"Portraits of Imaginary People" debuted at Ars Electronica in 2017 with three portraits starting off the series; HawaiianAnn, Jaclyn_Donahue_ and maksimkovalev15. In August of 2021 Mike Tyka will be releasing these same portraits as 1/1 edition NFTs on Hic et Nunc.
Read interview: AI-Art Pioneer Mike Tyka and His Green NFT Debut
The series, titled "Portraits of Imaginary People" explores the latent space of human faces by training a neural network to imagine and then depict portraits of people who don’t exist. To do so, many thousands of photographs of faces taken from Flickr are fed to a type of machine-learning program called a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN). GANs work by using two neural networks that play an adversarial game: one (the "Generator") tries to generate increasingly convincing output, while a second (the "Discriminator") tries to learn to distinguish real photos from the artificially generated ones.
At first, both networks are poor at their respective tasks. But as the Discriminator network starts to learn to predict fake from real, it keeps the Generator on its toes, pushing it to generate harder and more convincing examples. In order to keep up, the Generator gets better and better, and the Discriminator correspondingly has to improve its response. With time, the images generated become increasingly realistic, as both adversaries try to outwit each other. The images you see here are thus a result of the rules and internal correlations the neural networks learned from the training images.