Panopticom video created by Vnderworld.
This video was created by Stephen Grzanowski AKA Vnderworld as part of the Peter Gabriel / Stability AI #DiffuseTogether competition that launched in April 2023. The winners were announced in June, with this video winning 2nd prize.
Self-proclaimed AI Alchemist and Stable Diffusion Purist, Vnderworld has been mastering Stable Diffusion since September 2022 and Deforum since November 2022. His work has been exhibited in NY, Paris, Miami, Tokyo, Spain, on a Metaverse Yacht and soon, Korea.
Of Vnderworld’s work on the video Peter says:
‘We are glad you found this medium because it seems like you were born to do it, it’s extraordinary work.’ – pg
Vnderworld gives some more insight into the making of the video:
I was thrilled with the opportunity to create visuals for ‘Panopticom’ and at the possibility of creating a music video for Peter Gabriel. I created this video in 1 week with the use of Stable Diffusion Deforum via the open-source WebUI, Automatic1111, after months of deep-dive learning and creating 2D and 3D motion parameters within the tool.
From its very inception, the video presents a profound allegory of modern existence, skillfully embodied by the imagery of sunflowers—unyielding in their devotion to the Sun, analogous to our own subservient connection to a higher power, or perhaps a technological regime. Throughout the narrative, the omnipresence of eyeballs and security cameras serves as an allusion to the ever-watchful gaze of surveillance, inviting contemplation on the concept of the panopticon, where the line between observer and observed blurs into an unsettling symmetry.
The segue into the post-WWII Berlin, a historical reference to the aftermath of conflict and societal restructuring, is a masterstroke that merges the video’s thematic essence with visual ingenuity. The psychedelic interlude, accompanied by lyrics that allude to drowning sorrows in “medicine,” metamorphoses into an aquatic dreamscape. This transition underscores the notion of escape through self-induced numbness while highlighting the entangling grip of distractions.
The aquatic metaphor then expands into a profound introspection on human insignificance, as the fish tank frames the perspective of existence as a transient journey within an expansive, indifferent cosmos. Yet, the fish tank soon transforms into a chilling prison, where individuals metamorphose from prisoners to mere observers, confined within the walls of their own living rooms, serving as captives to the very technology that shapes their reality.
The juxtaposition of historical and futuristic scenes deepens the thematic currents, as the dismantling of Berlin’s wall evokes a liberation of the mind, tearing down the confinements of conventional thought. The progression to aliens and cosmic vistas elevates the inquiry into the nature of existence, expanding the horizon of possibilities beyond human comprehension.
In a crescendo of imagery, the video navigates a spectrum of symbolic transformations, from skeletons to sunflowers, embracing a journey of awakening. The scene of a liberated figure soaring above a dystopian cityscape of surveillance cameras, is an epitome of liberation and the pursuit of truth. The visceral imagery of mushroom clouds from nuclear bombs and literal mushrooms adds a layer of poignant subtext, reminding viewers of the dualities of creation and destruction, and the cyclical nature of life itself. The closing tableau of an oak tree, symbolic of reincarnation, encapsulates a profound meditation on the afterlife and the quest for transcendence.
This artful creation accompanying Peter Gabriel’s ‘Panopticom’, pays homage to the boundless possibilities that emerge from the fusion of human creativity and AI. The conscious decision to present the unaltered output of AI-generated imagery, free from post-production embellishments, is a bold choice that underscores the raw energy of creative exploration. In capturing the essence of the song’s thematic depth, this video encapsulates the very essence of artistic expression—an embodiment of the artist’s journey into self-discovery and a resonating challenge to question the fabric of our reality. By resonating deeply with the song’s intricate themes, the video becomes a testament to the essence of artistic expression—a visual voyage mirroring the artist’s own journey of self-discovery. It’s a compelling invitation to question the very nature of our perceived reality, which aligns strikingly with the essence of ‘Panopticon’.
Video created with Stable Diffusion by Steve Grzanowski AKA Vnderworld // Vnderworld.com