The Poetry Camera uses AI to make poems out of photographs and it's actually pretty cool

There are so many labor-hating corporations eager to make a quick buck off of AI-generated content right now that it can be difficult to remember that, oh yeah, it's actually possible to use computer-based technology to create some cool art sometimes. Enter: the Poetry Camera. Created by NY-based artists Kelin Carolyn Zhang and Ryan Mather, the Poetry Camera is an open source technology that lands halfway between a Polaroid camera and one of those buskers hocking poetry written in real-time on a typewriter in the park. Basically: you take a photograph with the camera, and then a small chip inside the camera uses the visual data from that picture to algorithmically generate a poem, based on that photo.

And again, I really, really don't want to give credit to any AI-generated bullshit. But this one's honestly pretty neat. Check this one out, via TikTok:

Replying to @Keiyona. here it is! #poetrycamera

♬ original sound – kelin

Or this one (also via TikTok):


Hitting the streets with poetry camera by @kelin and myself #streetphotography #streetinterview #streetportraits

♬ Stuck In The Middle – Tai Verdes

Here's a little more on the project from TechCrunch:

The story of the Poetry Camera began as a personal passion project for Zhang and Mather, who found themselves captivated by the idea of merging their love for technology with their appreciation for the arts. In the early stages of development, they spent countless hours tinkering with various components and experimenting with different AI models to bring their vision to life.

"The project's origin is when I got access to GPT-3. My first instinct was to play Dungeons & Dragons with it because I'm a nerd. I figured 'if this thing could play Dungeons & Dragons, that would be impressive.' And yeah, it did work for that. This was back when you had to do prompt engineering. So it took some elbow grease to get it to work. But I also had this idea of maybe making some camera as a project," says Mather. "What if you took a camera, but it was a reaction to Instagram culture? What if text comes out instead of a photo? … Everyone prefers the book version over the movie, so it's like that for capturing moments."

As they refined their prototype, Zhang and Mather began to share their creation with friends and family at social gatherings. The reactions they received were nothing short of astonishing. People were fascinated by the concept of a camera that could generate poetry based on what it saw. The device quickly became the center of attention, sparking lively discussions and igniting the imagination of all who encountered it.

I think the thing I like about Poetry Camera is that it's not making lofty claims about replacing creative labor so that a bunch of lazy bastards can some money off of NFTs or whatever. It's purely novel, and genuinely kind of delightful. And that's all it needs to be.

This camera trades pictures for AI poetry [Haje Jan Kamps / TechCrunch]

Previously: AI is either going to save us or kill us. Or both.