twelve x twelve collaborates with multimodal audio visual artist Portrait XO for the launch of her debut AI album WIRE
As we begin our journey with multimodal audio visual artist Portrait XO for the launch of her debut AI album WIRE which will be released as NFTs over the course of the next months, we invite you to read over her Prologue where the artist shares intimate thoughts and perspectives about her creation process.
Portrait XO’s debut AI album WIRE explores the emotive inspiration of writing with an ‘other self’
“ Firstly, thank you for being here and taking interest in my work and supporting my journey. My peculiar obsession with art and technology as a musician started from a place of need for creative problem-solving. I hit creative walls regularly like most creatives. What’s always helped me push through and stay inspired has been from discovering new tools that help me create differently. The role technology plays in my creative process is always there to serve as tools to enhance the way I create and/or challenge me to think differently. I’m constantly hunting for new ways to challenge myself to break through these hurdles because I never want to get stuck.
I feel extremely privileged to have collaborated with data scientists and mindblowing artists who continue to inspire and support me.
At the start of creating this album, I had no idea what to expect. I felt I needed a drastic change that would remove me from having any kind of expectation.
I wanted to be thrown into the deep end of something I’ve never experienced before (sonically) and allow the process of creating without knowing what the end result will be to guide the entire journey of creating. By creating this album this way has helped me reset my own mind and tap back into creating from a primitive emotive place. Music is and will always be the place I go to translate whatever I can’t through words or visuals. It’s the universal language of emotions and everything unexplainable but can only feel through sound.
Big thanks to CJ Carr, Zack Zukowski, Thomas Haferlach, and Birds on Mars for the creative AI support — pushing my creative limits to new heights. Special thanks to Sandira Blas, Kalam Ali, and Ahilleas Papantos for helping me stay sane and your fierce support for everything I do.
I invite you on this journey as I try my best to translate my favourite WTF moments that has manifested in the shape of my first ever AI audiovisual album.
The process of creating an album is always such an intense journey for me. There were already a lot of layers to my creative process before I got introduced to AI, and since the experiments that led to this album happened, my perspectives about myself as a singer, songwriter, and producer has changed a lot.
While I question whether AI will ever be sentient, I do think AI offers us an opportunity to become even more intimate with our work when we use our own works as datasets for training.
CJ first introduced me to the idea of training a dataset of audio in 2015. It took awhile for us to finally work together and we manifested our first experiment during our Factory Berlin x Sonar+D artist residency in 2019. I was especially inspired after his collaboration with Reeps One who used his beatboxing recordings as a dataset and used the AI-generated output to challenge himself. After providing CJ 1 hour recording of my vocals from unreleased music, he trained it with his custom SampleRNN model for 2 1⁄2 days and sent me 10 hours of AI-generated audio.
Fun fact: I wrote over 200 songs between 2018–2019 and I liked maybe 5–10% of it.
The 1 hour recording of my vocals I provided as the dataset for training involved me picking the songs I was happy with based on vocal texture, dynamics, and range.
During the initial stage of songwriting and producing this album, I had no idea how I’d create music with all these strange AI-generated glitches of sounds from a machine trying to learn how to sing like me. Strange feelings from words that sounded like words (but mostly not), and short clips of interesting melodies, I questioned if I can create something I can feel excited about.
Expressing myself with music is so complex, I didn’t feel completely satisfied for years with what I was creating. I was desperate to evolve and break free from form.
Trying to translate complex emotions into sounds is such a strange journey, but necessary for me to do as an act of catharsis. I’ve accepted that I need to create music as a form of some kind of therapy while accepting that although music provides relief and joy for most of us music lovers, it’s a strange reality that the creation of music can sometimes feel so challenging.
While finishing pieces of music are acts of joy, the process of making music isn’t always joyful. Sometimes, a song is a complex journey of transmuting difficult emotions. The more complex the emotions I feel, the deeper my need for sounds I’ve never heard before to match the complexities I feel. Sometimes this journey is so challenging because it involves playing with sounds and textures over long periods of time until I feel sounds match the emotions I want to convey. For that reason, I don’t release music so often.
Being human is so weird.
Listening to a machine try to sing like a human and that human being me is even weirder — in the best possible way. This album is my stamp in time reflecting on different states of reality.
While I constantly question what it means to be human in a data-driven society, I’m constantly trying to strike a balance of how much time I spend with different types of technology.
As the lines continue to blur, I’ve surrendered to my constant state of confusion and have leaned into it by playing with confusion through acts of curiosity. Playing with AI models has opened up so many rabbit holes leading to more questions than answers. I become excited about the unknown in unexpected ways. Especially during lockdown, the unpredictable nature of AI was (and continues to be) the one kind of unpredictability that allowed me to have fun while it felt like everything else was falling apart.
I don’t think AI is necessary to be a better musician or creator. It’s an interesting time to witness and be part of such an interesting movement of AI art. Only recently have we humans been able to play with creative AI tools to lift the hood and start to create tangible experiences from the ‘invisible’ boxes of machine learning.
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