Genesis25 AI-generated beetles. Digital-C print in wooden display box
The title, Genesis, refers to the process of manually creating datasets for generative machine learning (ML) projects. ML requires large amounts of data which, in many cases, is hard to come by ethically. This is why we fall back to a few public repositories and, possibly, why research papers prove concepts by generating kittens or celebrity faces. We can also crowdsource datasets, but this comes with its own limitations and politics.
I sourced my own dataset at the Reanimation Library, a library of misfit books in Brooklyn. My beetles are based on "A Book of Beetles", published by Josef R. Winkler (author) and Vladimir Bohac (illustrator) in 1965. In a laborious process I scanned the book, transformed the data into a pix2pix training set, and used it to train the neural network.
The result, after many hours of work, is 25 bugs. My dataset is way too small for any serious application. Ultimately, the project is a reflection on where ML datasets come from and the politics inherent in their genesis.