The New Golden Age of “Happy Little Accidents”

by | May 6, 2023 | Architecture, Featured

I’m not quite sure how this happened (not at all sure, actually), but I’ve managed to create a rather fascinating series of architecture/fashion hybrids. Take a look and then I’ll guide you through the process…

These slightly disturbing images are the result of generating an architectural visualisation and then using it as an image prompt with associated seed in v5.1.

I was intending to introduce some rain staining and general dilapidation to simulate the passage of time, so added the following prompt terms:

grimey, streaked with dirt, rain splashback, dirty

The thing is, nowhere does it mention anything about people, humans, figures or faces. I started out with a simple image of a building. You don’t believe me? Take a look.

I can’t for the life of me work out how the above very safe and rather boring image of a coloured shop, with nothing more than a few faceless pedestrians wandering around, can suddenly turn into intense, close-up portraiture with the addition of some key words that are nothing to do with people.

If anyone can explain this, please let me know.

Several of the images show people with their eyes shut or downcast, and their hands at their collarbones, as though they are semi-conscious.

Look at the image on the left there. The man is absolutely shredded, yes, but look closer – that’s not his skin. He’s completely wrapped in a wet fabric like cotton, which sticks to his skin and almost seems like skin that is sloughing off in places. Look at his left forearm, how the bulging veins show through the wet fabric, yet the fabric also has creases in it so it’s not clear if we’re looking at skin and veins or wet fabric. He’s a fabric man in a world of melting plastic architecture. It’s all rather peculiar.

Look again at the first two images from this article. See how intently these people are staring out at us?

What was a building has been transformed into something akin to a jellyfish, yet it is also a background to the piece.

The outfit is brown, like the fabric skin of the man above, but here it’s unambiguously a garment. What at first seem to be toggles or cords are actually strands of something emerging from the headdress, which seems as though it ought to fall under its own weight, yet doesn’t, as though it were weightless.

It’s tempting to create my own version of this outfit using some kind of plastic, filled with just enough helium as to be self-supporting.


You’re probably wondering the same thing I am. Perhaps this is some bizarre quirk of V5.1, which came out recently?

To put that to the test, let’s try rerunning the experiment using V5…

What’s interesting here is that although we’re clearly getting a similar result, it has a character that’s distinct from those generated in 5.1.

To my eye, these are far more “straightforward”. There’s less darkness or expression of emotion in the characters (although who knows what’s going on with Hidden Guy), and the posing and detail are less –it’s hard to pin down– “gritty”, perhaps? It’s just a person standing looking at us. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that these images don’t suggest there’s anything “going on” in the scene. By contrast, the storytelling, the suggestion of events leading up to this moment in 5.1, is a step on.

The second thing I notice is that the figure is very separate from the background. The scene is simply something they’re standing in front of, whereas the images from 5.1 have a melding and merging going on whereby the character is immersed in, even immured in, their context. A fascinating difference.

And if you’re wondering, I have now identified part (but not all) of the cause of these figures. I would not have guessed, but the word “grimey” makes a difference. I don’t know why.

Run the prompt again, exactly the same except without “grimey”, and instead we get the following:


There’s someone there, but at the same time not there.

This is strange all in its own way. The man appears as though painted, like a piece of graffitti, and disappearing into the wall of the building, which thins or pulls apart for him. I can’t tell whether it’s behaving more like a curtain or like smoke. I can’t tell what the “bits” in it are either. Are they projections? They seem to be lumps sticking through a fine, falling layer, like a Dark Souls fog gate, because they are casting shadows downwards across what appears to be yellow smoke.

Is the smoke contained by a series of glass panels, or are those rectangular outlines a frame that is supporting the fluid facade?

Is the man really there? The light on him is consistent with the light on the projecting elements, yet he appears as a chalk and charcoal drawing, or spraypaint. If he is a drawing, what is he drawn on, and why does the facade appear to be parting to let him through?

I’m afraid I don’t have the answers. All I do know is we’ve entered a new golden age of what Bob Ross called “happy little accidents”.