What’s The Point of Expanding Album Covers with AI?

What’s The Point of Expanding Album Covers with AI?

The beauty of a good album cover is that it can perfectly encapsulate the mood of a dozen or so songs in a single image or illustration — and that’s a difficult feat when you only have a square-sized canvas to work with. In order to depict the world that an album takes place in, musicians and their designated team of photographers, stylists, and/or graphic designers spend weeks or even months pouring all of their blood, sweat and tears into designing the perfect album cover that will sit on your shelf or favourite streaming service.

However, leave it to the tech bros across the Internet to imply they know artists’ work better than those artists do. With Photoshop’s new generative fill tool — which uses artificial intelligence to generate an expanded section of a piece of work — pro-AI knuckledraggers across Twitter are revealing the ExPaNdEd EdItIoNs of some of music’s most iconic album covers. But why?

A typical album cover is usually a square-shaped vignette of the artist doing or creating something iconic enough to stick in a listener’s brain. Case in point: SZA’s SOS, which sees the titular R&B artist sitting on a diving board attached to a yacht in front of a deep, blue sea. It’s melancholy and isolating, paralleling the themes on the record, and that’s it. Expanding that album cover either gives you more blue ocean — which is already exemplified on the album cover — or, as demonstrated above, a completely different tone with SZA watching people splash around in the sea. What’s beyond the bounds of the square? Nothing, and that’s the point.

This trend of expanding album covers with AI is pointless, and exemplifies two things. One, it demonstrates music fans overstepping the boundaries of their favourite artists. In other words, fans are positioning themselves as making better/cooler/more interesting art with the album cover their favourite artists spent a ton of energy developing. Two, it shows just how bleak the AI revolution has really gotten — no one is really creating anything new, they’re just lazily expanding what already exists.

Donda becomes a black box

The Beatles becomes a white box

The other rooms in the R Plus Seven cover are empty…of course

Does it really matter that Michael Jackson is laying on a piano?

Weezer doesn’t even have feet

Abbey Road is a street…fascinating…

Just kidding, Abbey Road is actually the site of the apocalypse

No, actually, Abbey Road is actually in space now

The artist picked the album cover photo for a reason…I promise you they took a bunch during the photoshoot

A pattern of shapes turns into an even larger pattern of shapes

WOAH! Another black box!

Exactly as Metallica intended it


Frank Ocean in a shower on the cover of blond transforms into…Frank Ocean in a slightly larger shower

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