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AI orchids
when 3000 years of Chinese calligraphy finds a new form through gen-AI


“Ceci n’est pas une orchidée”

In my experience, the most exciting art or business projects are often those you unexpectedly stumble upon. Three weeks ago, I walked into an orchid project that does not need watering or any form of gardening.

No, my collaborator in this project is a computer. Or better, an artificial intelligence. And while I am not too sure about what is technically happening on the AI side, I find myself creating Chinese calligraphy with an orchid-generating genAI system.

The brains behind this project Dr. Michael Whittle and Atticus Sims are equally uncertain about the outcomes of our collaborative efforts. I secretly suspect that “not knowing” is precisely what excites them about this journey. They speak of “a lot of system noise, but not totally random”, “latent space” or “the space of all possible images”.

That comment hit a chord! When I first saw the genAI orchids, I was mesmerized. The beauty, detail, and colors, based on the genome data base of Kew Gardens, are magical. The thought of orchid species that could have existed, but never came to life sparked deeper philosophical questions. It touches upon the Buddhist concept of the possibility of all “the ten thousand things”, while everything is possible, not everything comes into existence.

We are now combining these AI generated orchids with my calligraphy work which is routed in 3000 years of Chinese calligraphy, to create new forms through AI.

During our last conversation, Michael’s remarked “it must feel strange, playing aesthetic tennis with an AI”. I am not yet sure how I feel about that ! But we will keep you posted on our orchid collection very soon!

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“It is easy to paint ghosts and devils. The most difficult are dogs, horses and other things. Why? Because people are familiar with dogs and horses, but no one has ever seen a ghost or devil”.

(Han Fei, 280-233BC)

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One family. One philosophy. One passion.

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