Do we detect a new pattern here?

The summer of 2022 brought a sense of wonder over artificial intelligence jumping from a futuristic dream to a reality of a whole new kind. Streams of images and text made with AI assistance filled social media feeds and brought with them a sense of wonder and curiosity. Could an AI produce iterations of every and all kinds of hitherto artistic output, though limited, for now, to 2D?

The turning point, for us, was when a former student (in Iceland) and colleague, Ragnar Már Nikulásson, posted his AI creation where he prompted the AI with wordplay and the AI responded with a rather brilliant visual pun. It understands humour! we thought. Can that be? A little later an old friend and colleague, Torfi Frans Ólafsson, who is an insider in the mystical world of AI and other magical technology at Minecraft Microsoft, started posting fictional visual narratives, on Facebook and Instagram, that depicted a realistic, evidence based, past that never was. Stories whose characters were recognisable in a sequence of black and white pictures, and the setting was a real place, as it was decades ago. He rewrote and revisualised history with assistance from the AI.

Soon after, intelligent sounding AI assisted texts of many kinds started to flow on social media and such. These were a bit harder to assess, but in November a conversation about thinking and a zuccini took place between an artificial intelligence, a language model, and a certified philosopher and author, Haukur Már Helgason, in more or less real-time-publishing on Facebook, the social media platform most popular amongst the middle aged, who still remember not being permanently online and permanently connected. Haukur asked the AI to come up with an idea about a bizzare [and thus creative?] way to do something with a chicken breast and a zuccini. ‘Freeze the chicken breast and zuccini’, it said, ‘and use them as ice cubes in a glass of lemonade.’ This seemed unexpected and unusual to the delight of both philosopher and followers of the conversation. Nonetheless, the concensus, by Haukur's enlightened and established friends part taking in the conversation, was that the AI is still in its puberty, and has a ways to go before it can be trusted to sort fact from fiction. And that it must study and practice a good deal if it wants to become a proper poet or trustworthy and inspiring academic. (Haukur Már Helgason and friends, 2022).

At some point through following the developments above and in our conversations generated by them, we—the editors of Ymt (5) along with good colleagues and students—decided it was time to explore, learn about, and assess the emerging situation for our field, Visual communication. So, we decided to take the Ymt—the hints—flipped the class room, and asked bachelor students in year two to educate us, and themselves, about AI and see where it lead. KMD’s VisCom students shook hands with the unknown, as people in our field have so often done before, and decided to face it head on by questioning its possible effects on our field, their studies, and our professional future. Ymt 5 deals with the unknown, is made, in part, by the unknown, and hereby goes out into the unknown to take part in the unknown.

Ymt 5, online, – AR – and in print, is made, authored, and designed by 23 students who worked to inform their field, to explore unchartered territory, and map it roughly—for you dear reader, so that you have a better idea of what is in the works.

Dóra Ísleifsdóttir and Åse Huus,
Ymt editors.