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Observations on a New Life in Spain

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Jumping into the AI multiverse (using Midjourney illustrations)

26 March, 2023 (09:49) | Living in Europe | By: admin

I know it’s silly, but I hate reading peoples opinions about the impact of AI on culture and civilization. To me they all simply state the obvious. But I guess its to be expected. 

I remember going to the annual music conference in LA in  1983, the year MIDI was introduced. (for non musicians who are not familiar with MIDI, it was introduced in 1983 at NAMM convention (National Association of Music Merchants) it modernized music in an unique and useful way by creating a “universal synthesizer interface.” The word MIDI was being received with typical mix of reaction, some who embraced but many who resisted, or maybe simply didn’t understand. But it has proven to be one of the most brilliant advances in music. The whole music world reacted with all kinds of crazy opinions about this essentially simple technology which modernized the music industry overnight. After that it was samplers, sequencers, then auto tune…At the outset no one understood they are all  *tools* which when used with moderation and no fear, can result in a truly original sounds. To be clear, for awhile the “Cher Effect” (autotune) was used ad nauseam, making pop music more generic than ever. But that’s another discussion. And that’s not to mention the over saturation of both sampled sounds and autotune in the Hip Hop genre.
For this image I use the following prompt, no qualifiers to make it weird:
(prompt) /imagine a powerpoint presentation with a conservative moderator and colorful, casually dressed musician on a platform in front playing a Roland synthesizer.

As my limited experience with AI unfolds (I only started using AI this month), I immediately got great results on my first try. The only AI I’ve used in this post is Midjourney, though my next post will be a multi-media CHAT GPT4 scene I created to fun effect.

I am a novice to using (the apparently controversial) CHAT GPT4, as well as midjourney4 but I already understand it’s purpose, use and in short time already hit linguistic limitations, thus establishing the given parameters for creative collaboration. Again, its a tool.

What many people don’t know is that they’ve been using AI for years just by learning to use succinct and specific commands in the words they put into their search engines; this will get both the results they want plus some amusing related surprises sometimes.

In 2023 we have been given a new tool (AI). Any artist or wordsmith with clear ideas can cajole the results they want, with surprisingly delightful results.

With Midjourney, in my experience the key to unique images is to give it a prompt with succinct visual detail and specific adjectives to get those specific results. The important thing is to remember the “arguments” and have a link or a notepad with the exact words to use for desired effects so you can copy and paste them (the arguments) at the end of your prompt to ask for specific exaggerated effects.

I’ve found there are more limitations in Midjourney using your own photo as a source image, but once you get a feel for it you can put it to good use.

selfie with my dog, Zuma, taken in last month in Albi, France
Here’s a selfie I took of myself and my dog Zuma in France last month. I used the image as source material, asking Midjourney to take the woman (me) and dog and to make my dog into a robot assistant, and to put us at Ponte Vecchio in Florence, knowing it has a similar background to the original. I had to try several “arguments” to get my desired results.

This is the prompt I came up with to get the above mage:

hyper-realistic add a mechanical steam punk robot to this photo of a woman in front of Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy cinematic lighting ultra photoreal –ar 16:9 –v

And here’s a variation by slightly changing the prompt omitting the word dog.

This image was just a test, using the prompt:

hyper-realistic add a mechanical steam punk robot to this photo of a woman in front of Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy with cinematic lighting ultra photoreal –ar 16:9 –v 5

The above are experiments with “arguments”, or commands. I forgot to add the word “dog” in the above prompt, but I like the fun, unexpected result of the collaboration.

In Chat GPT4 I have found you have to feed it the exact right, succinct and visual words as possible to work from. My very first attempt bore surprising results when I came upon a persistent AI bias which tries to make all scenes or stories end with a happy ending or one of the people becoming a hero. Avoid using the word naked or suicide or anything with ambiguous meaning,These little walls make me laugh, and for a moment it becomes the familiar old game of “tricking the program into doing what you want”, which forces a writer show rather than tell the story they are collaborating on with AI. This is the part where once you like the skeleton you two have come up with, it becomes a tool where the writer simply goes in and rewrites the AI results in their own language, adding, deleting, replacing passages and you can give it whatever sinister or ambiguous ending you choose. It’s kind of fun.
I’ll be experimenting with mixed media AI in the next few blog posts, why not?

But, going back to Midjourney, here’s my first experiment “imagining” a female chamber orchestra conductor – using various Arguments. (arguments are html code instructions you can find on any Midjourney tutorial. You just need to keep them handy until you learn the logic and lingo).

I leave you with these fun images of a female conductor in different styles and ethnic origin heh heh.

May be a cartoon
These were all my first attempts at trying out different “arguments” and also different adjectives. I share these to give you an idea of how fun Midjourney4 is. In hindsight I should have specified only one baton, heh heh heh.

… meanwhile… update from mid December 2022

15 December, 2022 (04:15) | Living in Europe | By: admin

Alot has happened. We made it back to Spain in early May 2020 after four purgatorial months. We bought a car, got parking in the plaza below us, sold Gracia, bought a house in the protected mountain biosphere of Montseny (about 1 1/2 hours from our beach pad), my dog Quixote died and now I have a new canine companion named Zuma.

Rather than trying to do too much recapping, I will post the videos and the dailogues from some of our travels (in Catalunya as well as France) because they highlight the best of what we’ve done.

This was our first Ninja Nomad Dialogue

We also put out several road trip videos of Catalunya. The first ones are specifically of Baix Empordá wanderings:

Castillo de Morella

Also in Baix Emporda

Then there’s this – quite the trek and gnarlier than expected, but we lived to tell:

We were able to take advantage of Covid lockdowns to stay at this nearly deserted 5 star hotel for our 2021 anniversary.

And in fact, the February (2020) before this, during strict lockdown, we were able to “escape” to another 5 star hotel, one that is visible from our beach pad:
So, as you can see, by buying the car we’ve been able to bend a few (quarantine) rules and still have some fun.

Meanwhile, we let go or our rehearsal space sold Gracia, and succeeded in buying the house in the mountains. While waiting for escrow to go through we did a wander through France to visit Bob and Tracey Mann.

Ok – Here’s one more well documented highlight.

There has been plenty of conflict as well as fun over that last 3 years, but I am now posting on December of 2022. I remain Covid free and 4 times vaxxed, Mark got Covid after 3 inoculations, and is slowly recuperating in the mountains.

The mountains… so much catching up to do!

Spring 2020 – expat blues in the time of Covid 19 quarantine lockdowns – written from L.A. winter 2020.

15 December, 2022 (03:27) | Living in Europe | By: admin

17 fly here to L.A.
22 = go to writers club
5:00 date with Marcus to meet a young curator and dinner later
25 lydia lunch
26 – Marcus gender reveal performance
31 – Mark goes to visit Heather (his mom) for 5 days
5th – Art opening at the Broad
6-  Marley exhibit with Ivy
8 Mark visit Poppo Frank for 5 days
12 – Dinner with Nancye
16 -23 Hilo/my birthday, reunion with Surf Punk Drew and also sculptor Laszlo, both of whom had lost everything in the big volcano.
29 – leap year bbq
Go see a horse sculpture in L.A. located in the garage of Laszlo’s sister’s house.
3rd Mark thinks he has Covid, but its just a 3 day cold
8 – Joshua Tree, where we shoot 2 Guarro Martinez videos, the music recorded at Earthstar Studios, recorded, engineered and produced by John X Volaitis.
12 – After naming the horse sculpture by Laszlo I bought Pegasus, it is delivered to my 2nd floor terrace in Korea Town in L.A.
13 – cancel dinner with Zoos, 15 – cancel dinner with Lauren
18 – our flights home to Barcelona have been cancelled,

<b>- Lockdown -</b>

If you are reading this you are in lockdown. You are the lucky who have survived. You have entered
a 5th dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. 2020, the year humanity’s worst fears came to fruition.

Its name, Covid 19. Its origin, we are told, is it sprang into existence from a wet market in Wuhan China, from a bat soup or some such meal. This original animal to human bacteria became a virus more virulent than anything like it in over 100 years. From China the virus jumped to South Korea and then Italy, which is credited with contaminating the rest of Europe. Suddenly all countries are infected many are dying and the world has a burgeoning pandemic. No country is spared.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, Mark and I are in quarantine in Los Angeles indefinitely. Our house sitter in Spain, Ricardo, is quarantined at our beach pad and girlfriend Cristina, who only planned to stay at our place for 3 days, is quarantined in our studio/apartent in Gracia, about 3 kilometers from our beach pad.

As I write this the whole world is in lockdown.


It all began… mid January we came out for an intended 2 month trip to L.A. We had a good itinerary:

AS I write this I am grieving, not just the loss of 2 dear friends this month, but of my life in Barcelona. Mark and I came to L.A. for an intended 2 month visit, to reconnect with family and old friends. Our first month was splendid, with a trip to Hawaii and a road trip to Joshua Tree. It was right around Joshua Tree that the Corona Virus started hitting the news big time. We all know the story – like a weird game of musical chairs, the world locked down and all countries went under quarantine. Many people found themselves trapped in countries where they were only meant to stay temporarily. Our flights back to Spain was cancelled. We are not allowed to leave this land of the free. We have been living in Barcelona for 15 years now and have to places. The funny part is that we have 2 friends in Barcelona, one was house-sitting for us, the other was meant to stay at our studio in Gracia for 3 days. They are both in lock-down at our places, which in a way is good for us in that no one will try to break in or squat at our places, but is really unfortunate for the friend in Gracia who had big plans that were totally aborted by the lock-down.
Everyone knows the story, how it started in Wuhan and spread to South Korea, Italy, Spain and then the USA, which reacted slowly and as a result the whole country went into crisis. STAY AT HOME, WASH YOUR HANDS became the new normal.

And now I grieve for our lost life, our happy, simple life full of doable goals and fun loving plans. I miss swimming and I miss all my lovely neighbors.

But let me digress and tell the story of the first part of our journey here in L.A., before Corona Virus was the only topic of conversation. We were so happy, Mark visited his parents up north, we had an awesome BBQ jam on Leap year, and an interesting trip to Hilo, Hawaii.

Part 1