Thursday, March 10, 2016

Song of the Day #281 - Death Grips - Artificial death in the west

Artificial win in the east

A little while ago, I was talking pretty excitedly about AlphaGo, Google's neural network-based Go-playing algorithm. But man if I was excited then, now I'm all-out bursting: AlphaGo is currently involved in a five game match against Lee Sedol, one of the greatest living Go players, and is up 2-0. This is stunning. This is history. This is something that no one could have imagined just a year ago. Something that optimists were calling a decade away at least. I watched the first match, albeit with some bafflement, as even Hikaru No Go became difficult for me to follow around the insei arc, lol. But the awe expressed by those more knowledgeable is clear enough. They are witnessing the birth of a god. Maybe they assume they must be dreaming. Already it has made extremely unconventional moves that pro players will probably be studying for years to come. From such a simple game, there still exists these wondrous insights.

Similarly, when I listened to No Love Deep Web, I was awed on the final track by this dramatic shift from the Death Grips I knew to an entirely new aesthetic world, one of pyramids and astrology and prophecy, one that I had perhaps never seen before. Okay, this is a pretty strenuous link. I have a better one:

Caught up in this "neural network deep learning" frenzy, I have recently been dicking around with "Neural Style". And by "recently dicking around" I mean "spending a long time trying to make work, and then briefly actually using". It's actually pretty simple and if you're at all computer-minded (e.g. you know what a Linux is and how to use it) I recommend giving it a try, especially if you have a beefy computer. Mine was good when I bought it five years ago, and thus struggles a bit now, but with a bit of patience you can do some really cool stuff.

The first thing I did was apply the style of this (the album cover of Everything is Made in China's 4, a very cool album that I should talk about more on here sometime) to this (a random Kantoku image) to get this which I think looks very cool but is very tiny. Trying to make anything bigger didn't work cause I was just running it in a VM and it ran out of RAM, lol. So today I installed Linux on a new hard drive and ran it "legit". I was able to make a 500x500 image in about 2.5hrs, which isn't too bad, but still a pretty major investment of time. I felt anxious about what I should make... should I aim for stuff that's legitimately "cool" or "beautiful"? Or should I make some "dank memes"?

This, again, is a question that could relate to the entire meta-phenomenon of Death Grips + their related memes + their music. This is another pretty weak link but we're gonna run with it. The music of Death Grips is unique and enthralling and emotionally resonant, but it can't ever be fully divorced from the story around its creation which, luckily, is also unique and enthralling and emotionally resonant. But it also can't be divorced from the memetic legacy it leaves, which is OK because that's also largely hilarious. It can threaten to be reductive, though: the more we focus on the dick cover and the copypastas and such, the more we may be tempted to reduce our understanding of the music to an equally simple "meme" of, idk, le crazy man screaming or w/e. But this is easy enough to cure: just listen to this song! Listen to this song and find yourself in the depths of another world: a world that, if other bands had only seen the entrance, would maybe never have dared to enter.

Idk. Hard to talk about. Anyways. I ended up going for applying the style of this (a screencap from Madoka) to the No Love Deep Web cover art (NSFW of course) to get this masterpiece. Ah. Hmm. That's, uhh, that's what it is. I'll try some more tomorrow.

If there's two images you'd like me to COMBINE INTO ONE, just link them in a comment below. Be sure to mention which one you want as the style and which you want as the content.

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