AI Art Adventures: Poltergeists

Users of Midjourney know every day brings a new theme word to play around with decided by the site’s creators. (I suspect it’s a way for the owners to iron out problems with the AI’s interpretation of that word.)  One recent word, for example, was generuk, which is a species of long-necked antelope renowned for standing on its hind legs to get at tree leaves. I doubt most users knew what a generuk was, but the AI did  and did a passable job with their prompts.

A few days before Halloween the word of the day of the day was poltergeist, which is German for “noisy ghost.” This word posed a problem as poltergeists are invisible.

So I decided to explore the theme by using the prompt “B&W vintage photo, poltergeist activity in a suburban home kitchen, 1950s, telephone flying, child screaming, housewife watching in fascination.” I should have published this before Halloween but, well, life.

1950s suburban poltergeist activity b&w vintage photo mom and child

From the first set. No poltergeist and no flying telephone (none of these pics had telephones) but a woman aghast with horror who has jumped up on the kitchen counter for safety, and a female child who is reacting in alarm to her but can’t see the horrible thing the woman can, which is off-camera.

The set was not bad in general but there’s a number of goofy things which point to the non-reality of it: The child’s shoes, the woman’s hands (as usual), that object on the counter that looks like a stereo receiver with stuff piled on top of it. Perhaps there were some 1950s homes which boasted stereo receivers in their kitchens, but not likely.

The kicker though is what’s in the cabinets in the back!

Oddly it’s not what is frightening the woman, as she’s not looking in that direction. As I said there’s a lot of goofiness in the pic, but the nice, realistic touch is the woman’s bra strap which has slipped and not been retrieved in her fright.

Another from that set.

Again not bad save for the woman and child’s wall-eyed expressions and the anatomical oddness of the child’s right arm. The kitchen is dreamlike, an alternate-universe idea of a 1950s kitchen, with those odd controls above the child’s head that look like an under the counter microwave, except there is no wave to micro — no place to put the food.

1950s suburban poltergeist activity b&w vintage photo

A variation on the best of the set, and the only pic that showed any semblance of a spirit. For some people here, the scary thing might be the little boy wearing a dress-up-play skirt. Which is something that parents today might be accepting of, but likely not back then. The kitchen itself is accurate for a 1950s kitchen but oddly miniaturized — there should be more floor space between the woman and the cabinets in the back for the perspective to work.

Another miniaturized kitchen with a young teen girl who has been pushed, pulled, or pinched by a poltergeist. If she stood straight, though, the cabinet would be at mid-thigh. Otherwise the pic is very good including the bric-a-brac on the cabinets and the posture of the younger girl in front, whose face we can’t see but could be huddled in fright.

An under-the-counter microwave transformed into a glass-fronted storage cabinet? Wonky arms and hands, but a hint of the horror above the woman’s head near the ceiling.

Well, ANOTHER 1950s microwave, with a pomegranate in front of it, yet! Not only that, but a bottle of Gorilla Glue above it, and another miniature kitchen in which the young teen girl is too large for. These pics all look real are on first glance, but the perspective betrays them.

Here’s a quartet from another set with the prompt “B&W vintage photo of poltergeist activity in a suburban home kitchen, 1950s, child screaming, housewife fainting, father afraid.” This time the prompt ignored the housewife and featured just the father and child. The figures turned out better but the kitchens are still tiny.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.