Helena Sarin: Celebrating the original GANcomic

Editorial is open for submissions: [email protected]

by Sofia Garcia (founder of ARTXCODE)

I’ve been lucky enough to work with the talented Helena Sarin as both a curator and personal collaborator since 2019. As the lead curator of ARTXCODE, I held the honor of exhibiting her CycleGAN computational collage, *Heads in Heaven*, at our group show When the Computer Made Art. Presented as an edition of 5, the set sold out before the show even began. It was such celebratory moment, but little did we know… She would do it all again.

December 2020 will mark one year since Sarin independently published and sold all 75 editions of her hilarious, pun-filled, AI-generated art book: The Book of GANesis: Divine Comedy in Tangled Representations. The book is based on a popular series of artworks Sarin posted on Twitter as parody of AI research papers. She decided to coincide the launch of the book with NeurlPS, a major annual conference for the AI research community and it was an instant success. Janelle Shane, the author of bestseller You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder Place was quick to joke “The generated images in @glagolista’s book are stunning at print resolution; but why did nobody warn me the book is like 90% machine learning puns?? “

The Book of GANesis by Helena Sarin, page 11

In terms of composition, The Book of GANesis mirrors the design of a graphic novel and in turn introduced a new genre altogether: GANcomics. A GANcomic follows the idea of using AI-generated artwork to steer the narrative of a book and in place of traditional imagery. In this case, Sarin allows her AI models- trained on her own drawings, sketches, and photographs- to steer the narrative of The Book of GANesis. She credits her inclination “to find patterns and meaning in random information” to her role model Lynda Barry. As for a literary theme, the book decidedly parodies religious text, carrying a theological trope Sarin attributes to a well-known quote by Pamala McCorduck, “AI beGAN with the ancient wish to forge the Gods…”

The Book of GANesis by Helena Sarin, page 5

… and so begins The Book of GANesis.

To commemorate the success of Sarin’s Manga Opus, she has tokenized an assemblage of cutouts from soft proof copies of the book and has included a high-res PDF download of The Book of GANesis upon purchase. The book contains 30 pages of original AI artwork and is considered to be one of the first AI-generated art books.

The Book of GANesis, the First Ever AI Artist Book
Edition 1 of 1

This will be the first of three one-of-a-kind posters celebrating the anniversary of The Book of GANesis. You can purchase your poster with high-def PDF download here.

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