Artist uses AI to design terrifying, faceless, Bosch-style tarot cards. You okay, hun?

Some strange AI art generated from the Rider Tarot
(Image credit: Supercomposite)

Welcome to the uncanny valley, where artificial intelligences like Looking Glass take snippets of what we know of this world, and turn them into forms almost recognisable, but with just enough absurdity to make you feel weird inside.

With the help of ai_curio's Looking Glass AI, Swedish musician Supercomposite has been compiling a Twitter thread brimming with surreal tarot card designs, straight from the depraved corners of my nightmares. Like many AI art projects before it, this one continues to enrich the artistic landscape with biomorphic strangeness.

As a concept, tarot already skirts the strange occult periphery of our understanding of the world, but somehow it just got stranger (via Futurism). With artists like Supercomposite working with the image-compositing AI to dredge up such gloriously hellish designs as these, it's a wonder there are any horror artists left today.

In this instance, it's taken the well-loved Rider Waite tarot deck, and morphed it into something terrifying; it's as if Heironymous Bosch and Dali themselves approached the AI inside whatever metaphysical non-space this it inhabits to form some kind of surrealistic art cabal.

"I generated 500 of these and I’m not stopping," says Supercomposite, the morbid curiosity evidently having got the better of her.

The list features cards dubbed things like 'Object Permanence,' which depicts a red-scarfed silhouette lady about to get pickpocketed by some faceless, robed humanoid knelt behind her; 'Length' which is just a super long tree person surrounded by skyscraper size twigs, and my favourite: 'The Panty Flasher'. The latter is exactly that, only there is no top half to the lady whose dress is being wafted up, just some matchstick-like spokes and an off-center skeletal figure with hardly a discernable feature.

Supercomposite told us "I named them, except the ones that are gibberish that I tried to transcribe from the funky text on the bottom of the card." Some of it does almost look like words, but it's like trying to discern hell-speak by playing a song backwards.

"It took a lot of tuning to get it to make the Rider Waite style while being creative enough to make cards that weren't exact copies," Supercomposite confided in us. "I also learned that the AI is obsessed with wands and puts them everywhere no matter what I do. It generated a bunch of wands cards that were just different numbers of wands sticking out of the ground, basically indistinguishable from real cards. And then after I improved it some more it started combining the idea of wands with people to make really really elongated people."

Race on

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The long boys are great, but otherwise I'm pretty weirded out by these esoteric distortions of reality.

I feel like these cards would have even stranger meanings than usual if you pulled one out during a reading, and the artist's next step is potentially to "turn this into a Twitter bot that generates text readings from the cards." 

Although that does sound quite terrifying, I'm willing to give it a go. Just imagine what this AI could do to the likes of Gwent, or Hearthstone cards. Face Collector ain't got nothin' on these AI horrors, I tell you that.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.