“How beautiful is youth that hourly runs away. Enjoy today, if ye want
Naught ye know about tomorrow.”
Lorenzo de’ Medici (from Triumph of Bacchus)
Not everyone wants to grow old and witness the irreparable decay of their body. Let’s face it, it’s not exactly that nice thing to see. Someone resorts to cosmetic remedies — often more mortifying than normal flaking —, someone else chooses instead not to care about it, continuing to act as an indomitable, eternal young spirit dictates.
When Norwegian designer Susanne Hæstad came across Midjourney — an independent research lab that produces a proprietary artificial intelligence program that creates images from textual descriptions — was a little upset. “In these days when there is so much talk about fake news,” she said, “such a program is scary, because you can produce images of people and events that never happened. As an avid newspaper reader who swears by paper and old school stuff, I see clear challenges for the digital media of the future when it comes to the use of artificial intelligence. Because, in the end, who can decide what is true and false?” — And perhaps, on balance, the same dilemma also applies when it comes to the eternity of the soul and the transience of the body?
Anyway, this sense of foreboding didn’t stop Susanne from experimenting Midjourney on her inner circle of friends. “We have a club called the ‘Get together and get it out on a trip and theatre’,” she said. “And then I sat there alone and fantasized at night, and thought: what will we look like when we get old?”.
So, once at home, she typed in a few selected keywords: AbFab, 80-year-old, tough, tattooed ladies at a New York nightclub. Based on that, the program produced a series of images that, maybe, today can make most people face old age optimistically.