Saturday, July 18, 2015

And now for something completely different

Eye Dream of Genie
Eye Dream of Genie

I'll never look at my garden the same way again.  I've just spent the last two days wasting my time playing expanding my repertoire of blogging skills with Google Deep Dream and it brought out my long-dormant artistic side.  As soon as I saw what it did to a photo of my eye (see original below), I was hooked.

Eye (original)
Eye photo (original)

I have no idea what this process is doing, except that it's trying to match colors, shapes, and patterns in a new image to others it already knows about.  (For more information about Google Deep Dream, see links at the end of this blog post.)  I've been playing with a variety of photos, of my garden and of individual plants and flowers, with interesting (and sometimes alarming) results.  Be sure to click on the photo to go to the original in Flick, because they are best viewed at full size.

Garden (original)
Garden (2009)

Dream garden
Garden of my dreams (or nightmares)

One of the first websites to allow users to upload their own images and apply Deep Dream was Psychic VR Lab.  You can visit their Deep Dream page here to see thousands of images people have submitted (but note that some of them are quite definitely NSFW!).  This site takes several days to process images; I've been using Dreamscope, which produces results in a matter of seconds and has several options producing very different effects (I like "trippy" the best).

Dream garden
The hills are alive with... um... something

Results vary considerably, from very subtle to nearly unrecognizable or even nightmarish.  Certain patterns seem to emerge: Google Deep Dream finds lots of eyes, and lots of dogs.  Lots of dogs.  A lot of people are posting photos of themselves or other people, but I think far more interesting results come from some of the more ambiguous or abstract images, including images of gardens and flowers.  Green and leafy images seem to bring out more fish-bird hybrids.  But there's almost always a dog in there somewhere.

Passion dream
The Passion of the Dog

Lotus dreams
The Lotus Eaters

Dream anemone 2
Dreamy anemone

Landscapes and sunsets also produce fun results.  Here are a few more of my own that I think turned out the best (or weirdest).  You can see the originals of all the photos, as well as all my other experiments, in my Google Deep Dream album on Flickr.  You can find many, many more photos by using the hashtag #deepdream on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, or other social media.

Dream sculptures
Dream sculptures ("A Waltz in the Woods" sculpture, Morris Arboretum)

Dream fern
Planet of the Ferns

Cypress dream
Dreamy cypress knee

Dream Florida Sunset
Psychedelic sunset

Dream sunset
Psychedelic sunset (2)

Doggy hell nightmare
Nightmare of doggy hell

And then, finally, there are the cat photos.  But even cat photos seem to end up with dogs.

Dream Tigger
This used to be a cat

Tigger (original)
I wonder, what do cats dream of?

For more on Google Deep Dream:

Inceptionism: Going Deeper into Neural Networks
Now You Can Turn Your Photos Into Computerized Nightmares With 'Deep Dream'
Google Deep Dream Program: How It Works
Deep-Learning AI Is Taking Over Tech. What Is It?
Welcome to the AI Conspiracy: The ‘Canadian Mafia’ Behind Tech’s Latest Craze
Is Google's Deep Dream art?
Why Google's Deep Dream Is Future Kitsch


  1. "Planet of the Ferns" is great. (I mean, I like most of these, but that one in particular.)

  2. Love it! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Trippy is right. WoW, groovy!! Thanks for letting us know about it.

    1. Trippy, groovy, you run out of superlatives sooner or later...

  4. Wild and wonderful! I also particularly like Plant of the Ferns.

    1. Those shaggy emerging fiddleheads already had a certain animalistic quality to them.