From the “Mona Lisa” to the “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” some images linger in the mind long after others have faded. Ask an artist why, and you might hear some generally-accepted principles for making memorable art. Now there’s an easier way to learn: ask an artificial intelligence model to draw an example.
A new study using machine learning to generate images ranging from a memorable cheeseburger to a forgettable cup of coffee shows in close detail what makes a portrait or scene stand out. The images that human subjects in the study remembered best featured bright colors, simple backgrounds, and subjects that were centered prominently in the frame. Results were presented this week at the International Conference on Computer Vision.
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” says the study’s co-senior author Phillip Isola, the Bonnie and Marty (1964) Tenenbaum CD Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. “A lot has been written about memorability, but this method lets us actually visualize what memorability looks like. It gives us a visual definition for something that’s hard to put into words.”
The work builds on an earlier model, MemNet, which rates the memorability of an image and highlights the features in the picture influencing its decision. MemNet’s predictions are based on the results of an online study in which 60,000 images were shown to human subjects and ranked by how easily they were remembered.
Kim Martineau | MIT Quest for Intelligence