Hecate, Mother of Witches
In memory of the thousands of women burned alive by the Church.
Hecate is a goddess in ancient Greek religion and mythology. She is most often shown holding a pair of torches, a key and snakes. In later periods she is depicted as three-formed or triple-bodied. She is variously associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, night, light, magic, witchcraft, the Moon, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, graves, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery.
This illustration has been a hell of a ride to make. It’s been composed with hundreds of files generated in Midjourney, photography and digital painting. The original files were terribly messy since they were rendered in the beginnings of the algorithm (the very first version). I spent weeks overpainting them so I could work on this beast of almost 10GB in Photoshop.
Creating something Human with Artificial Intelligence
It has been a very challenging image. I’m proud at the discovery that artificial intelligence and “traditional” artistic means can coexist together in harmony. (as “traditional” as digital art can be considered, even still nowadays). This image by itself is obviously imposible to render by any artificial intelligence algorithm, and I wanted to create something very complex and intricate to see the possibilities of using AI generated files as a resource. Just as I would do by mixing photography, painting and 3D.
The debate is firing the Internet right now and is, of course, getting as polarized as it possibly could. But my opinion on the matter seems to be in the greys right now. I’m also concerned about the usage that can be given tothis technology. I don’t think you can call “art” to an image created after a text prompt. But as a tool, artificial intelligence can give you the means to build something out of it. There are people already claiming to be artists just because they engineered a text prompt, just to try to sell their “creations” as NFTs. This is terribly wrong from so many levels. But then, there are people trying to burn the algorithm alive. They are calling “heretics” to any user who approaches to the world of artificial intelligence. Remember: This is just a tool.
My goal is to use artificial intelligence as part of the process, not as an end in itself. I used to mix photos and 3D elements by fusing them using digital painting (what’s is know basically as “matte painting”, as I’ve been teaching for years in this workshop). Why can’t I add files that I myself generated in the mix? The amount of work is the same in the end, and I retain full creative control so I can create meaningful images, not just aesthetic ones just for the sake of it. And in case you are asking, the algorithm doesn’t take any chunks from other artists images.
Overcomplicating myself to make this worth it
For that reason, I proposed myself to create something very complex but iconic in design, to show the possibilities of the tool and how if used right, it can be a great addition to an artist’s workflow. “Hecate” took a couple of months to finish and served as a challenge and a starting point for what’s to come, at least for the time being. I’m curious to see where this leads, as afraid as I am at the same time.
Below you are going to find the finished artwork, which is actually 120 x 190 cm (47 x 75 inches). Monumental for a digital file, and as such statement and mythological figure should be. It almost killed my computer. Click on the galleries below to see the digital art from a closer view and to see some steps in the whole process. There’s is also a brief “making of” video accompanied by an animated version of the finished art. I hope you enjoy them!
Witches, heretics and wise women
I hope this Hecate I created can come and haunt the spirits (even if that’s a thing) of the bastards that burned women alive. From the most absurd of the reasons to cases on which they just were wise woman. The Dark Ages of the West burned everything in the name of God, and the black, dense smoke is still flying high over our heads. A new polarizing world is serving us new taylor-made heretics, and the perspective of it cannot be more frightening. Of course, the not so new heretics are formed mostly by women. Powerful women that won’t shut up, that won’t step back and that will fight for what they deserve, even if that means burning in the sacrificial pyre of Twitter.
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