Digital Dreams

Dreams can be inspirational
Dreams can be aspirational
Dreams can be revealing
and dreams can be clarifying.

All of the above statements could also be said about the creative process. Trying to create something from nothing often begins with a tabula rasa, and ends with something that is beyond anything you could’ve ever originally imagined. Often, our dreams (whether they are tangible goals or sparks of insight into our subconscious) play a role in our creative process.

As artists, we are always searching for inspiration and dreaming of what could be. And as young adults in an ever-progressing world of innovation and technology, we are reasonably well-equipped with tools to assist us with our creativity - whether they are paintbrushes, pens, or a publishing platform like Wordpress, Tumblr, or Wattpad.

The line between art and technology is, now more than ever, becoming blurred. Our dreams not only influence our art, but can be manifested visually on digitized screens and sent out into the world wide web.

Companies like Dreame - which invites users to tell their stories, fantasies, and dreams and partner with artists to depict their visions - are leveraging the culture of co-creation that has been fostered by the rise of online communities, and producing beautiful artwork inspired by dreamers all over the world.

Even Google has recently been trying to infiltrate the dream world - Google Deep Dream and Google Image search tools have been written up all over the place recently. For the lowdown check out this article that explains how “Google’s artificial neural networks (ANNs) are stacked layers of artificial neurons (run on computers) used to process Google Images.” Over time, by cataloguing millions of images, Google’s ANNs learn what various objects look like.

TL;DR: Google’s team ultimately realized that the process used for discerning photos on Google Images could also be used to generate new images. If the computer understands what something looks like, it can draw it.

    “When started with white noise, the network would produce images purely of its own design. They call these images the neural network's "dreams," completely original representations of a computer's mind, derived from real world objects.”

Google continues to research Google Deep Dream and its ramifications, and online communities have naturally been talking up a storm about it - on Reddit, Popular Science, and elsewhere. Beyond how awesome these psychedelic images are, however, Google Deep Dream could have larger implications for artists.

As explained in the Google Research Blog UK: “The us understand and visualize how neural networks are able to carry out difficult classification tasks, improve network architecture, and check what the network has learned during training. It also makes us wonder whether neural networks could become a tool for artists—a new way to remix visual concepts—or perhaps even shed a little light on the roots of the creative process in general.”

Google is just one of many technology companies investigating the dreamworld. Research is conducted constantly to explore how dreamers can better understand their nightly visions and make their subconscious thoughts into tangible inspiration for their conscious lives. As the world of computers and digital design advances daily, artists must continue to educate themselves about the tools available to them that can help make their dreams a reality.