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MGMT’s new video makes the AI art of style transfer look cool again

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It’s a testament to the speed with which culture moved in 2017 that “style transfer” already feels a little passé. This technique started life in the AI community as a way of applying the textures and tones from image onto another, but it soon made its way into apps like Prisma then big platforms like Facebook as a tool for sprucing up snaps and selfies. Now, MGMT have used it in the music video for their latest single, When You Die, and to the credit of the video’s creators, made style transfer look fresh once more.

The video stars actor Alex Karpovsky (of Girls fame) as a magician who seems to be trapped in some sort of Groundhog Day-style loop and floating through the astral plane. Whatever’s going on, it all fits very neatly with the aesthetics of style transfer, which give surfaces weird new hallucinogenic depth, shifting and mutating from one scene to the next. The visuals were produced with the help of some custom software named “Glooby,” and you can check out more of its weirdness on the creators’ Instagram account.