AL GRANO-Strange-Stranger

2022 - AI generated (text-to-image) - digital panorama


Bio-issues, eco-art, ecologies, GM Corn, environments, AI text-to-image generator, living systems, food hacking, speculative creations, practice as research.

“AL GRANO-Strange-Stranger” is a digital mashup combining AI-generated 'paintings' stitched into a panorama with imaging software a collaboration with artificial intelligence where I have played curatorial and artistic roles in the selection and final compositing processes. The work traverses 20th Century Modernist Mexican Muralism (considered 'painted political manifestos'), 18th century Romantic landscape painting, and sci-fi gaming environments. I experimented with WOMBO Dream - a text-to-image model - to generate AI powered images matching my selection of an art style from the apps menu, in combination with my keyword prompts, such as: Corn transgenic avatar, Monsanto corn, Death by Corn, Maize god, Teosinte, etc. The app renders visual realms with whimsical aesthetics - a mixture of retro-futuristic, sci-fi, and mythical landscapes particular to the alternate universe of game design whose aim is to immerse the player and make them feel as if they inhabit the depicted world. Appearing like something first glimpsed in a dream, the AI generated landscapes, objects, and architectures are marked by spatial and stylistic incoherence. A horizon is inaccessible in scenes that are often seen from different angles, with misaligned components of visuality (e.g.: figure and ground) creating in the viewer a degree of cognitive dissonance, and that convey my value-laden perspectives on the subject. The sensitizing but desensitized deviation with the codes of representation proposed by the AI system is out of my control and predictive ability, a feature that I exploit to underscore the uncontainable disorder that plagues ongoing debates about maize agriculture where unevenly shaped opinions and meanings about the grain's genetic code whether 'pure' or genetically manipulated are formed in engagement with wider structures: alimentary, economic, technological, political, ethical, representational, and symbolic.

AL GRANO project was begun in 2010, born from my encounters with maize/corn agriculture while living in Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Throughout the years, Ive deployed several AL GRANO works that include an app for iOS and Android, an augmented reality work, and a split-screen film. During ISEA2011, I discussed the film as well as my essay titled 'A maze about maize: An Amerindian divinity and its transgenic avatars' concerning the maze of debates about genetically modified corn's ecological impact, specifically in Mexico, center of origin and domestication of the millenarian grain. The decades-long contradictions mutate and persist, even today in 2022 -- they shape and re-shape the AL GRANO project spawning the current work: 'AL GRANO: Strange-Stranger'. It metaphorically embodies the entangled deliberations, multiple viewpoints and discordant voices about issues that affect human and other-than-human ecologies.

AL GRANO-Strange-Stranger / All media and texts © Pat Badani, 2022.