[NSFW] Welcome to the Puppy Slug Orgy

This article contains adult content.

im1.jpgImages courtesy of the artist

The release of Google’s DeepDream caused quite a stir when it became apparent that its algorithmic pareidolia turned pretty much any image into “puppy slugs.” A recent video work, however, makes DeepDream imagery look more like a wet dream by combining it with some of the most ubiquitous content on the internet—pornography. Fuck is a video work by Berlin-based filmmaker Turk Lees, which seeks to reveal something about ourselves by giving the DeepDream treatment to video footage of an orgy. As Lees tells The Creators Project: “When Google released the software last year I was instantly hooked. I was drawn to it not just because of the wild images it produced, but that it was a thinking and learning program that actually interpreted images rather than just apply some effect to them. I immediately wanted to make a film using DeepDream software; I would essentially be collaborating with artificial intelligence on a project.”

Playing on ideas that were already getting tossed around the internet, Lees saw an opportunity to make a statement about how DeepDream changes the way we see ourselves. “The internet has produced some really crazy DeepDream art. Earlier this year I came across a Reddit page dedicated to DeepDream porn, most of them used the algorithm of animals and the results were so weird; porn stars with dog heads and dicks that turned into lobsters, I felt that this combination in particular actually said something. The internet shows sex in many different and weird ways, but showing it as a hungry and wild, animalistic act, I thought that was super interesting.”

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The task of making Fuck was tedious for Lees, who admits that he didn’t have the programing experience to expedite the process. As Lees explains, “my process was basically taking each and every frame from the source material and feeding it into the neural network one by one, and then taking these ‘dreamed’ images and pasting them back together in post.” After spending so much time working with DeepDream, Lees reflects on his own experience with hallucinogens: “I have tried DMT a handful of times and it had a profound effect on me, especially as an artist [...] DMT is a high definition psychedelic trip, in that the visuals are so detailed and complex that the experience can really be shocking. I would say that DeepDream imagery is as close to that as I have seen.”

Using DeepDream with pornographic imagery may have been done before, but the soundtrack Lees created for the video is a crucial part of the work. The combination of digitally processed guttural utterances mixed with typical sounds of nature, like chirping birds, seems to be a perfect counterpart to the imagery. The slowed-down motion of people engaged in sexual acts is transformed into a living jungle of shapes and patterns as myriad animal faces flash throughout the images. The DeepDream algorithm brings the animal instinct that contributes to the popularity of internet porn to the surface of these hallucinogenic images, pointing out that while the internet may be a tremendous technological achievement, a great deal of the time it’s simply used to watch other people have sex. Lees’ work reminds us that, although we may have crawled out of the primordial soup, it’s still where we came from.

To see more of Turk Lees’ video work be sure to take a look at his website.

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