Australian artist and designer Jonathan Zawada has used AI assisted generative imagery to create the cover artwork for music producer Mark Pritchard’s new project, MP Productions EP 1. Released on Warp, the cover art is distorted and deformed to surreal effect.
The concept was born from the ambition to transcend any singular style or approach, Zawada explains, instead conveying multiple identities – fitting for a producer who has previously released work under myriad aliases and has tapped into an amalgam of genres for this EP alone.
The EP cover art was created with a GAN (generative adversarial network, a type of machine learning framework) using image inputs that include a feather boa, toilet tissue, a mask, bubbles, a comic book, a vase, a TV, perfume, a telephone, a football helmet, lipstick and a moving van.
The resulting artwork is a bizarre collage of incongruous shapes and textures that combine to form a head and torso, albeit with the appearance of having been melted. Viewed in the context of tracks like One Way Mirror, which comes as a cynical commentary on Big Tech, the artwork casts a wry glance at the very technologies that created it. The track ends with a series of mock adverts created by Pritchard, complete with robotic voiceovers and lines like “we believe that algorithms don’t feel, and humans do”, which inspired Zawada’s approach for the cover art: “I wanted to match the clinical, weird and slightly sinister and almost hysterical tone of the adverts that Mark had made for that track.”
Zawada adopted different techniques when it came to the artwork for the EP’s two singles, ranging from 3D rendering to hand-drawn illustrations to manipulating classic artworks. Whereas the cover makes use of a GAN, the artwork for the track Be Like Water is a still lifted from a 3D simulation of liquid, which has been recreated with thousands of modelled drawing pins.
Meanwhile the artwork for In My Heart leans into the fine art space. “I ended up getting lost in several archives of high-resolution scans of paintings in various museum collections that have been released under Creative Commons,” Zawada says. The aim then became “aggregating the sentiment and feeling” behind different yet harmonious pieces of art and transforming them into some kind of “super-painting”. He created many iterations of these, working with Pritchard to decide which would best match the “unusual tone of the song which seemed to be both ethereal and structured”.
The two are long-time collaborators, with Zawada having created everything from previous cover art to VR experiences to a spate of 3D head scans for the music producer over the years. Zawada’s work across the new EP adds to a growing archive of visuals that paint no clearer a picture of Pritchard as a music artist – and it seems that’s exactly what he wanted.