The Internet has been having fun lately with the DALL-E Mini, recently renamed craiyon, an AI program that generates images in response to user suggestions. Enter a description of anything – even just the word “anything” – and the DALL-E Mini synthesizes multiple images of it. An open source software (inspired by the OpenAI technology DALL-E), it seems to work best, and most entertainingly, with imaginative but concrete prompts; recent examples highlighted on a Twitter feed dedicated to the topic include “the last supper of a strip club” and “dashcam footage of a hamster Godzilla wearing a giant sombrero hat attacking Tokyo.”
I thought it would be fun to test DALL-E Mini’s abilities as a book cover designer. Entered as prompt, abstrate literary titles proved to be a challenge for the program, but not an insurmountable one. “The Sound and the Fury,” for example, returned stylized images of rock musicians howling into microphones, which makes sense unless you are a human who has read the novel. Others demanded a little more “thought” on the part of DALL-E Mini.
When it can, the DALL-E Mini likes to take a literal approach. Above, it reduced the poetry in Lahiri’s title to “some doctors.” (Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections” generated similar, unimaginative prison-themed images.)
An American flag with stars that look like bullet holes in a street sign: It works for Adichie’s novel – and unfortunately for 21st century America in general. But the DALL-E Mini owes a debt here to the cover of Sly and the Family Stones “There’s a Riot Goin ‘On.”
The more figurative demands of Ward’s title inspired something like a rebus: a depiction of what appears to be a choir with a bone (?) Raised above it.
Planet Earth is being hit by a kind of celestial fireball – suggesting that any beauty will actually be short-lived.
The DALL-E Mini seems to wish Whitehead’s novel was about a Four Seasons-like vocal group rather than a cruel Jim Crow era reform school.
This hallucinogenic spin on an infinity symbol is, I think, a really clever interpretation of Wallace’s title. The blue-green and salmon color scheme, possibly borrowed from the Miami Dolphins, is less explicable.
Above an untidy Brooklyn-like street scene that really looks like it could use a mom.
This ragged band of what look like hockey players and terrorists does ample justice to the concept of a “goon team,” but perhaps not to Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The background suggests a high school high school – creepy!
Bruce Handy is most recently the author of “The Happiness of a Dog With a Ball in Its Mouth.”