A product of a collaboration between a comics artist, Ilan Manouach and an AI engineer, Ioannis Siglidis, The Neural Yorker is an AI engine that posts synthetic cartoons on Twitter. It is based on a GAN-derived model, developed by Applied Memetic that has been trained on millions of data units whose collection occurs on a variety of different indexing regimes and systems of classification and labeling. The multitude of epistemic regimes is not only thematized here as a metaphor or a theoretical perspective on the increasingly aggregate nature of knowledge production in our computational age, but becomes an operational procedure in the construction of the very same synthetic cartoons.
Media accumulation is productive in its capacity to expand our relation to memory, to contribute to the awareness of different regimes of attention, to broaden our understanding on the environmental footprint of the artistic and publishing production and to rethink the performative aspects of information management as contingent to artistic sensibilities, in terms of what Paul Stephens calls “the poetics of information overload”. Additionally and as creative processes are increasingly shaped by technological affordances, the comics industry is already facing the complex nature of developments in artificial intelligence. The online abundance of digitised media content, available through third-party groups of comics fans, the increasing convenience of programming language frameworks and machine learning libraries, the secularisation of knowledge through e-learning and the plummeting prices in specialised hardware is contributing to reach a critical point where artificial intelligence will profoundly shape the ways we produce, consume, archive and distribute comics artefacts. A more wide adoption of synthetic media, generative processes and predictive algorithms will not only reconfigure existing readerships and markets, but will ultimately force a radical realignement for the practitioners’ artistic ethos and contribute to the formation of new reader sensibilities.