This Website Changes Every Time You Blink

Artist Olesya Chernyavskaya is using new technologies to create strange art projects. Her medium is websites, her canvas is your screen.
July 26, 2021, 12:59pm
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Image: Olesya Chernyavskaya website

The only way to not miss it is to blink. realless.glitch.me is a website that warps every time you close your eyes. When it begins it looks like a Wikipedia entry about the use of generative adversarial networks (GAN) in art. Blink and the font, colors, and formatting of the site change. Blink again and the site warps further. The site takes many forms, but often it felt like the GAN magic undergirding the site warped it, converting it from modern web aesthetic to the hellish low res world of Geocities from 1998.

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realless.glitch.me is the work of Russian artist Olesya Chernyavskaya, one of a number of her websites that uses open-source APIs to create bizarre works of art. Many of them involve the site accessing your webcam, assessing something about you, and changing the website in reaction. “I have a tech and design background. I think a combination of these two opposite skills brought me to what I do today,” Chernyavskaya told Motherboard in an email. “I’m interested in art because it gives freedom of thought, it’s like you can do whatever you want. And I just love to create something new and unique.”

Forgotten Blinks slowly fades the text of the website if you don’t blink. “75% of the people who work on computers affected by Computer Vision Syndrome,” the site says. “It causes eye fatigue, dry eyes, burning eyes and other problems...solution: blink more frequently.”

According to Chernyavskaya, Mood-Ai reads the emotion on your face and alters the website depending on your expression. A neutral expression delivers the manifesto for the experiment on a white background. Smiling adds dialogue to the manifesto like “That’s so amazing isn’t it!” and “It will predict that you want tasty pizza faster than you understand it.” Put on a scowl and the website thinks you hate it. “These things just personalize suggesting content THAT U REALLY HATE.” It should be noted, however, that there's no good evidence that so-called "emotion recognition" systems work well.

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Olesya has a website that blurs when you slouch, a site that can only be viewed with your VPN on and your hands in front of your face, and a site that shrinks its texts as you get closer to the screen to try to dead it.

Chernyavskaya said she uses AI and websites because it helps her connect the digital to the physical. "Clicking, tapping and speaking are the only ways to interact with everyday tools such as computers and phones. Imagine if our off-screen actions would impact things in digital,” she said. “For example, your bad posture would blur the page, content on the page would change with every blink. Also, I love its randomness. Sometimes it can give unexpected results.”

When the site loads up it reads like a Wiki entry about the use of GAN to create art, a manifesto about what technology can do with the arts. But blink enough times and the message warps, often so fast you can miss it.

On my last blinking ride through the site, it turned red hued in by an ugly green border. “Ways To Stop Using Generative Adversarial Networks In Art,” it said. “Don’t Create Artworks. Don’t Generate Art. Don’t Make Artworks in Movies, Games And Animations.”

Chernyavskaya maintains a Glitch page where she shares the code for her art projects and encourages remixes and collaborations. “Now I want to experiment more with body recognition and explore more unconventional human-machine interactions,” she said. “I'm also learning new ways of using AI in art. I got into generative art and the next piece I'm working on uses neural networks to generate images. It's a big project for me and I'm going to publish it on my Twitter and Instagram soon."