Ever since Google revealed Deep Dream, a neural-network (you know, like the Terminator) visualization tool that takes normal images and turns them into recursive, creepy, cyber-Hironomous Bosch hellscapes, I’ve wanted to see how it would affect images of cars. And now I know. And I’m not sure if I’ll sleep again.

That’s not entirely true — the results are odd, but perhaps because there’s been so much creepier stuff out there, I didn’t find the car images too shocking. It’s actually been pretty difficult to find public servers running the Google software, and the ones that are are pretty bogged down — so I was only able to get three images done instead of the five to ten I’d hoped for.

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Still, it’s not a bad start, and until they make the Apple II build available, I probably won’t be able to set up a server of my own for more intense research. I suppose I can just take a few of those pills out of that discarded bag of expired medication I found under that partially-melted sex doll and stare at some pictures of cars to see what the differences are in the biological and digital minds, but that’ll have to wait.

So, let’s see what I got from these three car images. I picked images with mostly the car and a fairly featureless background so the system would just focus on the car, but I think that also makes for less insane images. But let’s see what we’ve got:

Volkswagen Beetle

Of course I’m going to try a Beetle, right? Part of me feels like I’ve seen weirder Beetles in person, but the more you look, the odder it gets. Like that spectral sea lion-thing that’s sniffing the left front tire there. And there looks to be a fish right above that.

Or the strange, slightly Thai-looking towers that have sprouted from the Beetle’s roof, and are populating the background, ghostily. Or that strange spacetime portal that’s opened up in the passenger’s door.

Let’s try another automotive icon, the Citroën DS:

What I find interesting here is how DeepDream couldn’t quite deal with the idea of a skirted rear wheel, so it went ahead and exposed the whole wheel back there. And then, for good measure, it seems to have caused a number of other little wheels and tires to sprout up all over the Citroën.

The DS also appears to be crowned with some sort of crystalline tiara, as befits a goddess, and there looks to be a whole crystal city in the background, with spires and crystalline minarets and towers. Exotic! Plus, the road surface has a lovely radial pattern now. I don’t see any odd animals here, just strange sky-bubbles and bursts and stick-figures plummeting.

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For the third one — and I’m glad this one actually managed to get processed from all the others that didn’t — we decided to go easy on the poor tripping computers and meet them halfway to insanity already with this Mitsuoka Orochi:

Here’s the thing about the Orochi: it looks totally at home here. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a Mitsuoka Orochi looking quite so comfortable and right in any environment. Like the others, the blank background has given way to a magical skyline, this one appearing to be composed of colossal circus-type tents and hybrids of pagodas and airport control towers — again, a sort of place I’d totally expect to see an Orochi.

One side mirror seems to have erupted into a bundle of biomorphic spheres, which, again, seems like a sensible acessory for an Orochi, and like the Citroën, many small wheels have popped up on the Mitsuoka’s edges. The already biomorphic hood vents have been joined by fish eyeballs and what may be a piranha face, and grazing in the lower right is what looks a bit like a half-emu, half-hedgehog beast.

I’m curious to know if anyone spots anything else, or, if you manage to find a server that’s not bogged down or have set up a Deep Dream server of your own, I’d love to see the results of your automotive machine-hallucinations.

What a glorious world we live in.


Contact the author at jason@jalopnik.com.

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