Can an AI photograph the past? 


Artists across the planet have fallen in love with OpenAI’s new project DALL·E 2, designed to render visual masterpieces from strings of text. Beyond predicting potential futures, perhaps artificial intelligence is most fascinating in how it can help us (re)imagine our past. Artists Luke Somasundram and Nico Tangara explored that path with their new work, ‘AI Portraits of History,’ in which they envision historical figures in the style of pop culture photographers.

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Vincent van Gogh in the style of Terry Richardson



Specifically, Somasundram and Tangara used DALL·E 2 to recreate portraits of iconic figures, like Marie Antoinette, Shakespeare, and van Gogh, through the lens of Yousuf Karsh, Terry Richardson, and Steven Klein — among others.


Besides illustrating a photographic style, the artists also generated the images to reflect the characters’ historical context and traits. For example, ancient figures like Artistotle are rendered in black and white, while van Gogh is depicted in a color and texture composition echoing his unique painting technique. 

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Aristotle, in the style of Yousuf Karsh

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Shakespeare, in the style of Yousuf Karsh

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Marie Antoinette, in the style of Rankin

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Girl With Pearl Earring, in the style of Steven Klein




project info:


name: AI Portraits of History

artists: Luke Somasundram and Nico Tangara
system: DALL-E 2 (OpenAI) 



designboom has received this project from our DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lea zeitoun | designboom