Home Edizioneed. 10 Midnight on Mars

Written by Luca De Nardo

In this new issue, we talk to you about Midnite on Mars, an incredible project from a brilliant mind realised and developed through an extreme mix of experiences, visions, concepts, tools. Behind it all is a man, but also a photographer and videographer based in Berlin: Glashier.
Everything seems to come about almost by chance. In reality it is not. But to the superficial eye it seems almost impossible. If only for the extremes that we find in the photographer’s left hand on the one hand and in the right hand of the Synographer on the other.

Yes, because that is what we are talking about today: Synography (computer graphic images, developed with Artificial Intelligence).
Although I am not a fan of syntography or digital image synthesis, I recognise that Glashier with his Midnite on Mars has something different.
It is a step ahead of the rest: it is a path, an idea, an uncommon vision, a multimedia project, complemented by playlists on Spotify and short stories.

Midnite on Mars is a Diary that flows through all the senses and impresses with its fluid linearity, seeking futuristic and sci-fi settings and a keen eye on the past.

Maniacal details to highlight situations, styles, genres, where multi-ethnicities and classes coexist and merge in a place (Mars) far away from all of us contemporaries, but belonging perhaps to a very near future with respect to human history.

The thing that amazed me about Glashier is his background, his experience.

Glashier is a Photographer who works mainly on film and becomes a Syntographer, abandoning his analogue working tool from one moment to the next and entering the synthetic realm supported by Artificial Intelligence.

The result? A true firework.

But what is even more surprising is how

Glashier has managed to combine science-fiction futures with elements of the past,

with elegance and nostalgia, where aesthetics and selective beauty find a fusion of chromatic nuances in the faded, sterile environment of a Martian surface.

It almost seems to take us back 40 years to the sets and settings created by the genius of Danilo Donati and John Graysmark in the film Flash Gordon directed by Mike Hodges. And yet… (as confirmed in another interview by Glashier himself): the distinctive elements of a 1950s Cuba, the aesthetic extravagance of ‘Burning Man’ are inevitable details of an all-embracing vision. In other words. A project where the experiential element of the Glashier Man and the professional experience of the Glashier Photographer is dominant and shapes the Midnite on Mars project as a whole.

QUESTION 1

Glashier, allow me a first fundamental question. Your shift from Analogue Photographer to Sintographer is incredible. There are many criticisms of the use of Artificial Intelligence to support this new era of Syntography. How would you convince sceptics to re-evaluate their opinions on this? Explain why this new tool to support creativity is acceptable, starting from the assumption that AI (at least for the moment) does nothing more than subtract and abstract already existing elements.

ANSWER 1

I understand the skepticism surrounding the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in supporting the new era of syntography. However, I would like to address these criticisms and provide reasons for skeptics to reconsider their opinions. 

Firstly, it is essential to acknowledge that art has always been influenced by derivatives and inspiration from different sources. Just like painters find inspiration in the beauty of landscapes or architects contribute to the evolution of design, the art of photography is a collaborative effort that incorporates various elements from different contributors. These elements, from the models to the lighting team, all play a part in shaping the final composition. 

In this context, a photograph is not solely the creation of the photographer. Instead, it represents a curated collection of existing elements arranged in a cohesive manner. It is the photographer’s skill in composition, timing, and capturing the essence of a moment that transforms these pre-existing elements into a captivating photograph.

The evolution of artistic practices over time has shaped the world around us, influencing the choices available to a photographer when capturing a scene. The photographer’s artistry lies in their ability to recognize and utilize these pre-existing elements, curating them within the frame to convey a particular mood, story, or emotion. 

The role of the artist is not to convince the audience whether something is art or not. Instead, it is up to the viewer to determine if the artwork effectively communicates and resonates with them. Art is subjective, and its impact varies from person to person. The audience decides whether the art resonates with them and conveys a meaningful message. 

In the context of AI-driven syntography, it is true that AI primarily operates by subtracting and abstracting existing elements. However, this should not be viewed as a limitation but rather as a starting point for artistic creation. AI becomes a collaborator, a tool that can help artists explore new possibilities, generate unexpected outcomes, and expand their creative horizons. 

By embracing AI as a tool for creativity, artists can access fresh perspectives and novel approaches to artistic expression. It allows for experimentation, pushing the boundaries of traditional artistic practices. The use of AI does not diminish the artist’s role as the author of the image. Instead, it becomes an additional means to manifest their creative vision and bring it to life. 

Furthermore, AI-driven syntography represents a new frontier for artistic exploration. It enables artists to challenge the norms, break away from conventional approaches, and forge new paths in visual storytelling. It offers exciting opportunities for self-expression, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in terms of imagination and creativity. 

Art is not a mere hat we put on in the afternoon. It is a reflection of our experiences, imagination, and beliefs. It engages deeply with our inner selves, evoking emotions and sparking meaningful connections with others. Art holds the power to transcend boundaries and leave a lasting impact. 

I worry about class disparities in the art world, particularly with the introduction of new technologies. There is a fear that people without formal education or privileged backgrounds may struggle to express themselves artistically. It is important to actively address this concern by creating a more inclusive and accessible environment. Embracing technology and providing resources can empower individuals from diverse backgrounds to unleash their creative potential and contribute to the art world. The goal is to bridge the gap and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to share their unique artistic voice.

QUESTION 2
You spoke of artistic and creative democraticity, (dialectical and semantic, I might add) granted by Artificial Intelligence in favour of new Imaginaries (you mentioned ‘the rise of the Imaginaries‘). I take it you are referring to a new class (generation) of artists capable of ‘creating’ without necessarily having media skills and manual dexterity in artistic instruments. I find this concept stimulating. But a consideration and a question arise spontaneously. Quoting Jean-Paul Sartre in his book “The Imaginary”, if it is true that “imagination is not a perception” but arises in our minds as a synthesis (and evolution cfr) of our knowledge and intentions, passing through the individual’s capacity to perceive and grow through an experiential process, it is clear that this is not for everyone, but is the prerogative of a few Potential Artists capable of being able to look beyond reality. 

The question then is: are we sure that AI will really be the instrument through which the process of Artistic Democratization will find new life and really enable the ‘Rise of the Imaginaries’? Or will it once again be for the excellent chosen ones?

ANSWER 2

Certainly, the concept of a new class or generation of artists emerging through the democratizing potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a stimulating one. While Jean-Paul Sartre’s insights on imagination as a synthesis of knowledge and intentions are valid, it is crucial to understand that the capacity for imaginative thinking is not limited to a select few.

Imagination is a fundamental human attribute that exists in varying degrees within each individual. It is the ability to perceive and transcend reality, envisioning possibilities beyond what is immediately apparent. While some individuals may have a natural inclination towards imaginative thinking, it is a quality that can be nurtured and developed through exposure to different experiences and cultural influences.

AI, as a tool, can amplify and extend our imaginative capacities. It serves as a medium through which ideas can be manifested and shared, allowing individuals to express their unique perspectives and communicate their visions. AI does not replace human imagination but rather augments it, providing new avenues for creative exploration.

The democratization of art through AI is not about diminishing the importance of traditional artistic skills and craftsmanship. Instead, it represents a broadening of the definition of art and embraces a more inclusive approach. It allows individuals who may not have formal training or access to traditional artistic instruments to engage in creative expression. AI becomes a vehicle for unleashing the potential of imagination and democratizing artistic possibilities.

However, it is essential to recognize that AI alone does not possess agency or creative intent. It is driven solely by the imagination and creative direction of the artist. The artist’s role remains pivotal in shaping and guiding the output generated by AI. The tool itself does not possess the ability to transcend reality or envision beyond what the artist imbues it with.

One of the most exciting aspects of this progress is the democratization of artistic representation. People from all walks of life can now witness how their ideas, visions, and experiences can be shared and represented. It is no longer limited to those who have access to expensive training or exclusive educational institutions. This marks a moment of true democracy in the art world.

In many ways, I see this as a new renaissance, a transformative era that will revolutionize every art form. It challenges the dominance of gatekeepers who often use “artspeak” to uphold a certain narrative and exclude voices that don’t conform to traditional norms. With AI, we have the power to break free from these limitations and allow diverse perspectives to be heard.

The potential impact of AI on the art world is immense. It has the power to redefine artistic practices, challenge established norms, and create new genres of art. We are witnessing a shift towards a more inclusive and accessible landscape that allows for a true diversity of voices and expressions to flourish.

In essence, the current state of AI in art is not just about technology. It is about empowering individuals and communities, giving them a platform to share their stories and contribute to the cultural fabric of our society. It is a remarkable time that holds the promise of a more vibrant and inclusive artistic future.

In my practice, I use AI-driven syntography in a way that mirrors my approach to street photography. Just as I walk the streets with a camera, seeking specific subjects and moments, I navigate virtual spaces, altering and exploring prompts to find the image that resonates with my artistic vision. AI becomes a tool that expands the possibilities of my creative expression, offering fresh perspectives and unexpected outcomes. Syntography is an extension of my artistic voice, allowing me to push the boundaries of storytelling and visual communication.

QUESTION 3
I am very curious about the developments of Midnite on Mars. You recently came out with a book that I am going to buy later today. But what else is in the drawer? What does Midnite on Mars have in store for the future? I imagine an Illustrated Tale (combining your writings and images), a Film, an Interactive Multimedia Exhibition…

Amaze us, tell us, give us some spoilers.

ANSWER 3
Developments of Midnite on Mars! Along with the recent book release, there are indeed exciting plans for the future.

One of the upcoming projects is an Illustrated Tale that combines written narratives with captivating visuals, creating a unique and immersive storytelling experience. 

Midnite on Mars imagines the creation of a new colony on Mars, inspired by visionaries like Musk and Bezos. It explores the possibilities and challenges that would arise if influential figures established a town on the red planet. Through various artistic expressions, it delves into the societal dynamics and narratives of this extraterrestrial community.

In September, there will be an exciting group art exhibition in Denmark focused on AI art. The exhibition will showcase a diverse range of artworks created using Artificial Intelligence as a creative tool. It will provide a platform for artists to explore the intersections of technology and artistic expression, offering thought-provoking insights into the capabilities and impact of AI in the art world.

In addition to these projects, Midnite on Mars is expanding its reach through a weekly radio show on Twitch, starting in August. This show will offer a platform to delve into the narrative and themes presented in Midnite on Mars, providing a deeper understanding and connection to the world of the project.

These are just a few of the exciting prospects in development for Midnite on Mars. The project is constantly evolving and exploring new avenues for artistic expression. Stay tuned for more updates and surprises in the future!

Thank you Gleisher. Thank you for your time for us and thank you for your fantasy world, for inventing the city of Midnite and thank you for amazing us with your incredible synographic creations.

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