U·B·K

This is an extensive document about the UBK project and my vision on Generative Art + Artificial Intelligence, there are some similarities between the UBK narrative and the evolution of technology that artists and collectors experience with the explosion of new technologies.

Hope you enjoy.

Fernando Jerez.

Images in this document are screenshots taken on the development stage.

Introduction

Ultra: going beyond what is usual or ordinary.
Bionica: mechanical systems that function like living organisms or parts of living organisms.

What unfolds when a technologically evolving life form interweaves with distinct facets of its environment?

UltraBionika

With UBK (UltraBionika), I am actively pushing the boundaries of narrative exploration that I started in my previous project UMK.

Imagine a world where technology not only advances mechanically, but also adapts and changes in response to its environment.  

UltraMechanika

That was the premise that defined the context and narrative of my project UMK (Ultramechanika), a long form generative collection dropped in Artblocks on May 1st,2023.

UBK is strongly paired with UMK. Each output is built over an UMK piece. This synergy extends to the realm of lifeforms, ambient surroundings, and diverse biomes. As we peer into the horizon of evolution, a plausible progression emerges: envisioning the emergence of autonomous machines as precursors to the next evolutionary stride.

UMK was crafted entirely using Javascript code, without additional images or textures. Functioning as an long-form generative collection, UMK orchestrates multiple algorithms in unison to culminate in the final artwork.

Within UBK, the integration of A.I. image generation serves to fortify the storyline, enhance the ultimate visual output, and bestow upon the observer an opulent arrangement, inviting them to immerse themselves in the intricate nuances and unexpected contours, resulting in an experience of profound visual engagement.

Much like the progression of machines, UBK is conceived as an evolution of UMK. Here, AI technologies are integrated into the artwork, fortifying the narrative, deepening the context, and enriching the overall story.

Generative Art meets A.I.

Matching Gen-Art and AI

Since I started exploring the realms of the image generation with AI, one of my goals was to build a 500+ pieces collection around a story or a narrative to give the viewers something to think about.

After building many long form generative collections what I’m looking for is a set of pictures with coherence, diversity in compositions and rarities.

AI is good drawing objects but not as good building compositions, playing with simmetries, negative space, palettes, or other aspects of the artwork creation.

Here’s where the hand of the artist can help adding some input images that defines the overall structure and composition to help and guide the AI.

500+ pieces is big deal. Drawing a full set of input images is something that I’m not going to do manually, and here is where the generative art can help.

As a generative artist, I enjoy building algorithms that play with the layout, compositions, negative space and other aspects of the structure of an artwork. This allows me to create sets of images with the overall layout that I need.

My vision

Using generative art to explore the layout and structure for long form collections, then adding AI image generation to reinforce the narrative and drive the final outputs to the aesthetic style that fits better with the concept behind the artwork.

I am commited to take the best of the two technologies to build strong artwork and solid collections.

Generative art:

  • Coherence
  • Diversity in compositions
  • Rarities

AI Image generation

  • Narrative, context
  • Aesthetics unleashed
  • Concept reinforcement
  • Diversity in details

Both

  • Fast iteration
  • Surprising outputs
  • Creativity boost

Read more in this article

Matching Gen Art X A.I.

My thoughts on gennerative art + AI

Why UMK / UBK?

UMK is a collection of 762 pieces. It was a project built over almost a year of iterations and improvements. The strong part (to me) in UMK is the diversity in composition, the rarities and the surprising and unexpected shapes.

Links to: UMK writeup, and the project page on Artblocks

The scifi nerd in me always wanted to envision UMK as a high detailed render of a imaginary world. So I tried to feed the AI with UMK inputs adding some prompts to contextualice the artwork.

It definitely worked, some of the results blew my mind and I immediately started building a set based on the premises of long-form collections: Coherence, Diversity and rarities, exploring concepts and expanding the narrative with AI as co-pilot.

UMK comes as an extension of the Defrag Trilogy, where I talk about the relation that we have with the machines. Spoiler: It’s a toxic relationship.

UBK is presented as the logic evolution of UMK, both in the conceptual part of the artwork and the evolution in my creative process.

UBK presents an opportunity to further expand upon and potentially conclude the narrative surrounding our relinquishment of control to machines. It explores the journey where these machines learn to thrive independently, eventually forging a symbiotic relationship with the environment.

With this pairing between UMK (generative) and UBK (AI) , I want to bring generative art closer to AI collectors and vice versa.

Encourage generative artist to integrate AI into their creative processes, potentially contributing to the development of novel styles or collections that blend diverse technologies harmoniously in the pursuit of creativity and artistic expression.

Join communities. AI and Gen-art are actually different categories in digital art. This project is aimed at collectors who want to broaden their view on digital art and hopefully help them discover and understand what’s going on in AI/Gen-art scenes.

About the Collection

Initial Exploration

First steps are usually an exploration of different parameters, models, prompts. Surprising outputs that will help to define the overall shape of the collection.

Some pictures generated on first stage that will not be part of the collection:

Reinforcing the narrative

Next stage of development is to take care of the details. UBK talks about the evolution of machines in a symbiotic relationship with its environment. At this point, there was a lot of testing finding the best subtle details that helped to reinforce the concept.

Polishing prompts, tweaking parameters, adjusting some ‘magic’ numbers until everything looks like it should.

UBK also follows a maximalist approach. A lot happens in each image. Many details, surprising shapes. This approach encourages viewers to lose themselves in the nuances of each piece.

Major Styles

Each output of the original UMK collection feeds 9 different prompts to create 9 images. I’m manually hand-picking one of the final images for each one of the inputs.

The nine prompts define the major styles as a starting point to add features/traits to the collection.

These nine styles have been carefully designed to produce easily distinguishable families of outputs. These styles are related to different life forms, biomes, or characteristics of certain ecosystems.

Sample: One original UMK piece (top left) plus the nine outputs generated. The chosen one is a secret until drop day 😉

Creating 762 x 9 (6.858) hi resolution outputs is a very intensive process. Have been weeks running my computer 24/7 building a massive amount of hi resolution images

Also with the help of a small custom app made in PHP in a local web server for hand-picking the variations, the experience have been super fun, discovering lots of surprising outputs, checking small details, etc. I’m a bit sad because +6000 outputs will never see the light but this brute-force approach totally worth it.

Let’s see how the major styles looks:

Dark Squid

Glass Jungle

Octopink

Red Bugs

Shallow Reef

Orange insects

Desert

Wasp and bees

Antarctica

Evolutionary events

Sometimes evolution can lead you down strange paths.

In UBK some uncommon variations have been included to expand the main concept.

These are: Ascensions, Extinctions and Mutations.

Ascensions

Over time, the currents of evolution guide us toward elevated realms. Ascensions unfurl as captivating spectacles, wherein technology awakens, giving birth to a tableau brimming with organic contours, a stark departure from its nascent state.

Outputs from the development stage. (not part of the final collection)

Extinctions

The unyielding course of evolution can lead species to a point of no return, culminating in a somber and intense scene marked by decay and scattered fragments.

Samples from develpment stage (not part of the final collection)

Mutations

At times, within the trajectory of evolution, unexpected deviations emerge, presenting variations that seem to exist beyond the confines of conventional context.

Here are two examples from early exploration stage: Magic mushrooms and spaghetti with meatballs.

Development stage samples:

Compositional aspects

The outputs are classified according to compositional aspects and general color.

These features are inherited from the original UMK generative collection.

Symmetry

Some outputs are symmetric, some others not.

Density

Can be Low, Medium or High. This feature wasn’t on the original collection and has been added here for a better categorization of the artworks.

Coloring

Four coloring methods inherited from the original collection.

Colored, Night Shift

Full color render (colored) and the dark background version (night shift).

Sketchy, Dramatic

Ink on paper style (sketchy) and the dark background version (dramatic).

Development notes

Tools and Tech Stack

The project has been developed in my local computer.

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
  • RAM: 64GB
  • GPU: msi Nvidia 3060-8GB

Software / Tools

  • ComfyUI + WAS suite 
  • Model: MBBXL Ultimate V.0.1
  • Input images: 1600×2400 pixels
  • Raw outputs: 1600×2400 pixels

Also developed a custom web app to help in the process of curation and building the final collection, making easy to balance the features/traits to have more control of the distribution of major styles and the rarity on evolutionary events.

This web app was writen in PHP running in a local Apache Web Server + MySQL Database local server

Workflow

Brute force approach: Generating 9 outputs with the major styles for each input image then hand-picking the best one caring about the balance and distribution of the major styles.

In ComfyUI, a workflow like this will help to batch-build the outputs using a Main Prompt to define the common characteristics and a set of Secondary prompts for the different styles.

All the outputs generated are saven in folders with specific names related to the style

This workflow allows to run the computer 24/7 building the collection without human intervention.

I recommend installing the WAS suite which adds a lot of super useful modules, especially the one to process a folder of input images and the module to save the outputs with good customization options.

At the end, almost 7.000 images have been generated. Next step is hand-picking 762 for the final collection. (Note the collection is finally limited to 500 pieces but 762 final outputs were made)

Curatorial process

Goal: Pick the best version for each output keeping the balance of different styles.

Problem: Working with the Windows File Explorer and the Image viewer is a headache.

Solution: Coders gonna code so I build a custom web app that allows me to explore the outputs, saving the chosen ones in a separated folder and keeping track of the number and distribution of styles and features.

This picture shows how the app will let you navigate for all the sets of pictures generated, and some counters on how many images of each style (A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I) have been selected.

Clicking on a picture you can zoom it and decide if you want to include in the collection

A collection browser too have been included to have a final view of the whole collection allowing to filter by style and jump to the image selector in case that i want to change something.

This tool have been very useful for the curation stage. Specially for a fast hand-picking and for having a global view of the collection.

Final Thoughts

UBK marks my debut in the world of AI projects, and Ultrabionika becomes the backdrop against which my creative journey unfolds, a tale of self-evolving machines mirroring my own process.

Fuelled by a genuine fascination for cutting-edge technologies, particularly in the realms of computer graphics and programming, my explorations traverse various domains like robotics, 3D printing, and computer graphics, often straying from the conventional artistic path.

Generative art is where my heart finds solace. With the aid of AI tools, I intertwine my generative art projects with narratives, context, and fresh aesthetics, breathing new life into each creation.

Gazing at an Ultrabionika piece entails more than just witnessing AI’s output. The image’s very essence takes form through a careful choreography of algorithms that set the stage. Every element’s placement in these artworks is meticulously governed by a collective of algorithms working in harmony.

The fusion of Gen Art and AI emerges as an exciting combo, one that pushes the boundaries of creativity and introduces a trove of captivating, unexplored content to the digital art scene.

Last, I’m from Spain, english is not my native language and thanks to AI again for the help with the translation of this document. My apologies for any typo or grammar fails in this document 🙂

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I hope you have enjoyed this writing and that it is inspiring for you.

Have fun!

Fernando Jerez

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