ChatGPT4 to catalogue sociopolitical stickers?

I took a workshop yesterday at SLU where I work on generative AI and dove deep down the rabbit hole. I had gone into the workshop as a casual user of an early version of ChatGPT but came away really impressed with some possibilities for cataloguing sociopolitical stickers in the Street Art Graphics digital image collection. In the workshop, I used the library’s ChatGPT4 version to do a few test runs on stickers and other artworks in the SLU image collections, and here is what I learned.

  1. It’s important to use specific prompts when asking about something, i.e., the better the input, the better the output. It’s also helpful to identify your role and other parameters, such as formatting responses.
  2. ChatGPT4 can provide quite decent descriptions of stickers. I dragged an image file into the query box, identified my role, and added a text-based prompt. AI identified almost all of the visual and textual elements; identified organizations listed on stickers (and what the organizations did); translated texts from German, Russian, and Spanish to English; and made interpretive connections that were sophisticated and nuanced. Each response usually took a minute or two.
  3. By contrast, in some cases it would have taken me or a student 15-30 minutes per sticker doing similar sorts of research.
  4. ChatGPT4 used qualifying language in the descriptions that comes across as informative but not necessarily authoritative. Examples include: X “may suggest” Y; “This image appears to be…”; X “could evoke” Y; X “may symbolize” Y, etc.
  5. ChatGPT4 also provides quite decent Library of Congress subject headings. The lists may not be perfect, but even human-generated lists aren’t always “perfect.” After doing several tests, I asked AI not to use capital letters so that I could copy and paste responses directly into the Jstor Forum cataloguing platform that I use.
  6. I may add new cataloguing fields to some of the digital image collections I’m working on. I could see adding these: Generative AI Source/Date; Generative AI Prompt; Generative AI Description; Generative AI Library of Congress Subjects
  7. ChatGPT4 recognized damage on one of the artworks, “This particular painting seems to have sustained some damage, evident in the tearing and the areas where the pigment has faded or is missing.”
  8. MLA describes how to cite generative AI research here.

Prompt: I am a university professor. Describe the contents and meaning of this sticker.

ChatGPT4: This image appears to be a political sticker or poster. It prominently features the text “60 ANIVERSARIO PCE” which translates to “60th Anniversary of the PCE.” The PCE refers to the Partido Comunista de España, or the Communist Party of Spain. The dates “1920-1980” indicate the time span from the party’s founding to its sixtieth anniversary.

The design is graphic and stylized with a strong use of yellow and black, a color scheme often associated with caution, attention, and in some contexts, anarchy. The main visual is an arm raised and holding a flaming torch, which is a classic symbol of enlightenment, struggle, and liberty. The arm is transforming into a profile of a face looking forward, which may suggest vigilance, foresight, and the human element within the political movement.

The text “Nuestra historia de lucha, garantía de un futuro de democracia y socialismo” translates to “Our history of struggle, a guarantee of a future of democracy and socialism,” indicating a message of continuity and commitment to democratic socialist principles.

Overall, the sticker is a political commemorative item that celebrates the history of the Communist Party of Spain, its enduring struggle, and its vision for the future, using powerful symbolism and a bold graphic style to convey its message.

Prompt: Does the image include a section from Picasso’s painting Guernica?

ChatGPT4: Yes, the profile of the face within the design of the arm appears to be taken from Picasso’s painting “Guernica.” The original artwork by Picasso was created in response to the bombing of Guernica, a Basque Country village in northern Spain, by Nazi German and Italian fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War. “Guernica” has since become a powerful anti-war symbol and an embodiment of peace. The use of this imagery in the sticker serves to evoke the memory of resistance against fascism and the struggle for freedom, aligning with the values and history of the Communist Party of Spain.

Give me the Library of Congress subject headings for this sticker.

ChatGPT4: Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) are typically used to categorize items within library catalogs. For this political sticker, a librarian might use a combination of subject headings to accurately represent its content and context. Here’s an example of what the LCSH for this sticker might include:

  1. Communist Party of Spain — History — 20th century.
  2. Political posters, Spanish — 20th century.
  3. Spain — Politics and government — 1939-1975.
  4. Guernica (Picasso, Pablo) — Influence.
  5. Political parties — Spain — History.
  6. Socialism — Spain — History.
  7. Democracy — Spain — History.
  8. Anniversaries — Spain.
  9. Political art — Spain — History — 20th century.

These headings are designed to help library users find materials on specific subjects, providing a way to access similar items concerning Spanish political history, the impact of “Guernica,” or the anniversary celebrations of a political party.

Prompt: Give me the Library of Congress subject headings for this photograph.

ChatGPT4: Based on the visual content of the photograph, here are the potential Library of Congress Subject Headings that could be applied to this image:

  1. Demonstrations — [Country] — 21st century.
  2. Women’s rights — [Country] — Photographs.
  3. Protest movements — [Country] — Photographs.
  4. Street music — [Country] — Photographs.
  5. Political activists — [Country] — Photographs.
  6. Feminism — [Country] — Photographs.
  7. Women political activists — [Country] — Photographs.
  8. Women musicians — [Country] — Photographs.

Without specific information on the country or the context of the demonstration, “[Country]” would be replaced by the actual location where the photograph was taken. The headings would further specify the particular issues being demonstrated if that information were available, such as equal pay, gender equality, or violence against women. These headings help categorize and locate materials within a library or archival database, allowing researchers and patrons to find related materials about women’s rights, protests, and music as forms of political expression.

Prompt: The photograph was taken on March 8, 2023, in Madrid as part of the international women’s day march. Give me more Library of Congress subject headings with this additional information.

ChatGPT4: With the additional information provided, the Library of Congress Subject Headings for this photograph could be refined as follows:

  1. International Women’s Day — Spain — Madrid — Photographs — 2023.
  2. Women’s rights — Spain — Madrid — Demonstrations — Photographs.
  3. Demonstrations — Spain — Madrid — Photographs — 2023.
  4. Feminism — Spain — Madrid — Photographs.
  5. Protest movements — Spain — Madrid — Photographs — 2023.
  6. Street music — Spain — Madrid — Photographs — 2023.
  7. Women political activists — Spain — Madrid — Photographs — 2023.
  8. Women musicians — Spain — Madrid — Photographs — 2023.

These subject headings place the photograph within the context of International Women’s Day, the geographic location of the march, and the specific year it took place. They would enable users to locate this and related materials focused on women’s marches, rights, and related activism in Madrid for the year 2023.

Prompt: I am a university professor. Give me the Library of Congress subject headings for this photograph taken in Malaga, Spain, on January 1, 2024.

ChatGPT4: For this photograph, which depicts a demonstration in Malaga, Spain, on January 1, 2024, the Library of Congress Subject Headings could include:

  1. Demonstrations — Spain — Malaga — Photographs — 2024.
  2. Political activism — Spain — Malaga — Photographs — 2024.
  3. Gaza Strip — In mass media.
  4. Zionism — Political aspects — Spain — Malaga — Photographs — 2024.
  5. Human rights advocacy — Spain — Malaga — Photographs — 2024.
  6. Israel-Arab conflicts — Protest movements — Spain — Malaga — Photographs — 2024.
  7. Peace movements — Spain — Malaga — Photographs — 2024.

These headings aim to describe the subject matter of the photo, the geographic location, the date, and the political issues being addressed by the demonstrators.

Prompt: Describe the contents and meaning of that photograph.

ChatGPT4: The photograph depicts a street protest in Malaga, Spain. The protesters are carrying signs, with at least two visible banners reading “ALTO AL GENOCIDIO SIONISTA DE GAZA” which translates to “Stop the Zionist genocide in Gaza.” This slogan indicates the protest is focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, specifically condemning what the protesters see as excessive use of force by Israel in the Gaza Strip.

The crowd appears to be diverse, with some women wearing hijabs, suggesting the participation of the Muslim community or individuals showing solidarity with Palestinians. The street is adorned with hanging festive lights, implying the event is around a holiday period, which contrasts with the serious tone of the demonstration.

The photograph captures a moment of civic engagement where individuals are using public demonstration to express their stance on an international issue, seeking to raise awareness and possibly influence public opinion or policy. It reflects the global nature of political activism, where events in one part of the world can provoke responses and solidarity actions across the globe.

Prompt: I am a university professor. Describe the contents and meaning of this image.

ChatGPT4: The image shows a segment of a barrier or wall that has been transformed into a canvas for murals and messages related to migration. On the left, a section is painted blue with white silhouettes of a diverse range of people and the hashtag “#TODOS SOMOS” above, which means “we are all” in Spanish, with the implication of unity or shared humanity. The central part of the image features vertical stripes in what appears to be rusting corrugated metal, painted in a flag-like motif of red and white. These stripes could evoke the American flag, perhaps pointing to issues surrounding the U.S. border. A single blue panel with white crosses may symbolize the tragic loss of life along the border, as crosses are often used to memorialize the deceased. The right section continues the blue theme and the message, concluding with “MIGRANTES,” completing the statement to “#TODOS SOMOS MIGRANTES,” which translates to “We are all migrants.”

The presence of a dried floral wreath against the blue panel with crosses could serve as a memorial tribute to those who have lost their lives in the pursuit of migration, a common and poignant theme in discussions of border crossings and the humanitarian crises that often accompany them.

Overall, the image appears to represent a powerful statement on immigration, shared humanity, and the often tragic realities of migrants’ journeys, situated on a physical barrier that may be part of a border structure, symbolizing the barriers migrants face.

Prompt: I am a university professor. Describe the contents and meaning of this image.

ChatGPT4: The image is a commemorative card or sticker, featuring iconography associated with the Francoist regime in Spain. The primary elements include:

  1. The “20-N” reference, which stands for November 20th, the date of the death of Francisco Franco in 1975, and also the date of the death of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Falange, in 1936. This date is significant in Francoist symbolism as a day of remembrance.
  2. The images of two men: One is Francisco Franco, the dictator of Spain from 1939 until his death in 1975, and the other likely José Antonio Primo de Rivera. Their inclusion signifies their importance to the ideals commemorated by this item.
  3. A large cross, which is the Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen), a monument commissioned by Franco, which serves as his final resting place as well as a memorial to those killed in the Spanish Civil War. The cross is a symbol of the Catholicism that was a key component of the Francoist regime.
  4. The colors of the Spanish flag (red and yellow) are prominently displayed, crossing the image diagonally, which adds to the nationalistic tone of the item.
  5. The text “X-ANIVERSARIO” and “II-ANIVERSARIO” likely refer to the tenth and second anniversaries of specific events, possibly Franco’s leadership or the death of Primo de Rivera, but without further context, the exact reference is unclear.

The meaning of the image is rooted in the commemoration of Francoist Spain and its leaders. It suggests a celebration or remembrance of the regime’s history and its figures, and the use of such imagery may indicate sympathy for or memorialization of that period and its ideologies. The piece serves as a historical artifact reflecting the political and cultural elements of that era in Spain.

Prompt: I am a university professor. Describe the contents and meaning of this image.

ChatGPT4: The image appears to be a collage with various elements overlaid on each other:

  1. At the top in bold red numerals is “31”, followed by the Russian word “число” which translates to “number” or “date” in English. This suggests that “31” may refer to a date, possibly the 31st day of a month.
  2. Below the date, “18:00” is prominently displayed, indicating a time of day, 6:00 PM.
  3. The largest text on the image reads “ГОСТИННЫЙ ДВОР”, which translates from Russian as “Gostiny Dvor.” Gostiny Dvor is a historic Russian term for an indoor market or trading arcade, and there are several famous buildings with this name in various cities in Russia, the most famous being in St. Petersburg.
  4. A statue of a horseback figure dominates the background of the image. This looks like a historical statue, possibly one of the many equestrian statues in Russia, which often commemorate tsars or military leaders.
  5. In the foreground is a cutout image of a woman’s face with an expression of distress or anguish. This juxtaposition is striking and could be interpreted in various ways.
  6. The small text on the statue’s base says “ETRO CATHARINA SECUNDA,” suggesting the statue is of Catherine the Great, known as “Catharina Secunda” in Latin, who was Empress of Russia.

The collage style and the combination of elements suggest this image may be an announcement for an event, possibly a protest or political statement, given the intense expression on the woman’s face and the use of a historical figure known for significant power. The inclusion of a specific time and the name “Gostiny Dvor” could indicate that this is the location and time for the event. The historical statue might imply a relationship with Russian history or cultural identity, and the date could point to a recurring day of significance, possibly associated with a movement or regular event.

Without further context, it’s challenging to discern the exact intention behind the collage, but it seems to be a layered message with political undertones or a call to action that is connected to Russian history and contemporary issues.

Prompt: It is a political sticker from Russia.

ChatGPT4: Understanding that this is a political sticker from Russia adds additional layers to the interpretation:

  1. The Date “31”: In Russian activism, particularly associated with the strategy of repeated peaceful protest, the number “31” is symbolic. It references Article 31 of the Russian constitution, which guarantees the right to peaceful assembly. Regular protests on the 31st day of the month (in months that have them) have been a method of asserting this right.
  2. The Time “18:00”: This indicates the time when an event, possibly a protest or gathering, is scheduled to begin.
  3. “ГОСТИННЫЙ ДВОР”: As mentioned, Gostiny Dvor is a well-known location in Russia, often associated with commerce and public gatherings. The reference here probably designates the meeting spot for the event.
  4. The Equestrian Statue: If this is indeed an image of the statue of Catherine the Great, it may be used to invoke Russian history and authority or to create a contrast between past and present forms of governance and public dissent.
  5. The Distressed Woman’s Face: The inclusion of this image, particularly with the expression of anguish, could be a poignant representation of public sentiment about the political situation, a specific incident, or an emblematic figure in a movement.

The combination of these elements on a political sticker suggests a call to action or demonstration of dissent. It’s a mobilizing image intended to resonate with those familiar with the historical and current political climate in Russia. The distress portrayed on the woman’s face, juxtaposed with symbols of historical authority and the constitutional right to assembly, makes a powerful visual statement about the state of civil liberties and public sentiment.

*CT note: AI did not recognize the female figure in the foreground of this Russian sticker, nor did a Google Images search.

Prompt: I am a University professor. Describe the content and meaning of this watercolor painting by Reginald Marsh.

ChatGPT4: To assist you accurately, I would need an image or a detailed description of the specific watercolor painting by Reginald Marsh that you’re referring to. Reginald Marsh was known for his depictions of everyday life in New York City, often focusing on the bustling scenes of the city with rich detail and dynamic compositions. His works captured the vibrancy of urban life in the 1920s and 1930s, including scenes of Coney Island, the Bowery, vaudeville, and burlesque entertainers, as well as the throngs of people on the city streets and subway.

If you can provide an image of the painting or a detailed description, I can offer a more specific analysis of the content and the meaning behind it.

ChatGPT4: The watercolor painting presents a scene likely captured from urban life, reflecting Reginald Marsh’s characteristic focus on the social dynamics and the vivacity of New York City. It depicts a woman in the foreground, possibly a shopper or window-shopper, looking at a display of mannequin heads wearing wigs or hats. Her stance and the way she holds her purse close to her body suggest a moment of casual observation or a pause in a busy day. The woman is rendered with detailed attention to her attire and expression, which is typical of Marsh’s work.

The mannequin heads are depicted with a variety of hairstyles, representing perhaps the fashion or beauty standards of the time. The display case in which they are presented, along with the reflected light and shadows, adds depth to the scene and speaks to Marsh’s interest in the commercialization of beauty and the spectacle of consumerism.

The mirror reflection in the display window creates a duplicity of the scene, with the woman’s reflection positioned between the mannequins, possibly commenting on the blurred lines between reality and the artificiality that window displays present. It may also hint at themes of self-image and societal expectations of beauty.

There’s a sense of immediacy in Marsh’s watercolor technique, capturing the movement and energy of the moment, which is a hallmark of his work. The date “44” alongside Reginald Marsh’s signature suggests that the painting was done in 1944, a time when America was still feeling the effects of the Great Depression and dealing with the realities of World War II. This context can bring additional layers of meaning to the work, as it could be reflecting on societal norms, consumer culture, and the role of women during this period.

Marsh’s art often contained elements of critique about the disparities and eccentricities of urban life, so this painting might also reflect his commentary on the nature of appearance versus reality in the bustling environment of the city.

Prompt: I am a University professor. Describe the contents and meaning of this watercolor painting by Akwesasne artist Dave Fadden called “At The Sing.”

ChatGPT4: To provide you with an accurate description and interpretation, I would need to view the watercolor painting by Dave Fadden titled “At The Sing.” Since you’ve mentioned that the artist is Akwesasne, it suggests that Dave Fadden is likely of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) descent. His works often explore themes of Indigenous culture, tradition, and identity.

If you provide an image of the painting, I can give you a detailed analysis of its content and the possible meanings behind it. The title “At The Sing” implies that the painting could depict a scene from a traditional Indigenous singing ceremony or gathering, which may include elements such as dancers, musicians, and community members participating in a cultural celebration or spiritual event.

ChatGPT4: This image is a colorful and intricate painting composed of a multitude of shapes and symbols that coalesce into the figures of two individuals facing each other. The style is reminiscent of mosaic art, where each piece contributes to the overall image.

In the painting, the figures are detailed with vibrant hues and varied patterns, suggesting a lively and dynamic interaction. The figures seem to be engaged in a communicative or cultural exchange, which might be reinforced by the title “At The Sing.” This could imply that the individuals are involved in a singing event or ceremony, an activity that is often central to many Indigenous cultures for storytelling, the transmission of traditions, and communal gatherings.

The use of patterns and colors is also significant, as these might represent elements of Akwesasne or Haudenosaunee iconography, reflecting the cultural identity and artistic heritage of the artist. The artwork may encapsulate themes of continuity, connection, and the importance of cultural practices like singing as a living and vibrant part of the community’s fabric.

The forms and shapes that make up the figures and the background are varied and abstract, suggesting a diversity of voices, stories, and experiences that come together in harmony. The sense of movement created by the flow of patterns could also represent the rhythm and flow of music and dance that accompanies traditional songs.

Overall, the piece speaks to the richness of Indigenous cultural practices, the community bonds they reinforce, and the enduring strength of these traditions. It’s a visual celebration of cultural vitality and resilience.

Prompt: I am a university professor. Tell me about this artwork by Willem de Kooning done in 1972.

ChatGPT4: The artwork you’ve provided appears to be a mixed media piece by Willem de Kooning, a renowned artist associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement. De Kooning’s work often blurred the lines between painting and drawing, incorporating elements of both in a dynamic interplay of form and color.

In this piece, the bold swathes of yellow and green paint create a sense of movement and raw emotion, characteristic of de Kooning’s style. The inclusion of newspaper clippings as part of the canvas surface is an example of his explorations into collage, merging painted elements with printed text to create a layered effect. The clippings themselves, with visible headlines and fragments of articles, add a temporal dimension, rooting the artwork in the socio-political context of the early 1970s.

The use of newspaper may also suggest a commentary on the transitory nature of current events and the media, contrasting with the enduring quality of fine art. The fragmented text, such as “For the reader hungry for a novel, here…” might play with the idea of narrative, offering pieces of stories that the viewer’s mind could seek to complete, much like de Kooning’s often fragmented human figures that invite viewers to engage with the pieces in an act of visual and cognitive completion.

The way the paint interacts with the printed media, sometimes covering it, other times seeming to emerge from it, could be seen as a statement on the relationship between media and art, and how the latter can both overshadow and be informed by the former. The splashes of color and the energetic brushwork create a vibrant contrast to the static printed words, bringing a sense of the artist’s presence and the act of creation to the fore.

Willem de Kooning’s works from the 1970s often showed a shift towards more vivid colors and an exploration of new materials and methods. This piece may be reflective of that phase in his career, demonstrating his ongoing experimentation and his commitment to pushing the boundaries of abstract painting.

Prompt: I am a university professor. Tell me about this Jain painting called Jambudvīpa.

ChatGPT4: This Jain painting represents Jambudvīpa, which, in Jain cosmology, is the realm where human beings reside. It is a detailed and symbolic representation of the world as envisioned in Jainist tradition. Jain cosmological paintings are richly detailed and often use a bird’s-eye view to map out the complex cosmography.

Jambudvīpa is the central continent of the Middle World (Madhyaloka) in Jain cosmology and is depicted as being circular and consisting of various concentric circles divided into lands and oceans. These are often detailed with remarkable precision and intricacy. The land is traditionally shown as nested crescent-shaped segments, with a central bullseye-like division that represents the Mount Meru, known as Sumeru, which is considered the center of the world.

The outer circles usually represent oceans and mountains that encircle the central continent. The entire cosmological map is symbolic and not meant to be a literal geographical representation. It reflects Jain beliefs about the structure of the universe, spiritual geography, and soteriology, with each part of the diagram having specific religious and philosophical significance.

The paintings are usually filled with various symbols and scriptural text, which provide information about the Jain understanding of the universe, including the concept of karma, the cycle of rebirth, and the path to liberation. The use of color, iconography, and text in Jambudvīpa paintings is highly codified, with each element carefully chosen to convey specific meanings.

This particular painting seems to have sustained some damage, evident in the tearing and the areas where the pigment has faded or is missing. However, it remains a rich historical and religious artifact, and such pieces are often treasured in Jain communities and among scholars for their spiritual, cultural, and artistic significance.

Prompt: I am a university professor cataloguing German political stickers. What are the contents and meaning of this image?

ChatGPT4: The image shows a sticker with a stark black-and-white photograph of two individuals, likely demonstrators, one holding a banner. The text in German above and below the image relates to political and social themes. The top line of text critiques the coercion into a certain model of motherhood and mentions §218, which is likely a reference to the German Penal Code section dealing with the criminalization of abortion. The bottom text translates to “Human genetics is selection and extermination,” a phrase that critically addresses the topic of eugenics. The sticker seems to be a protest against enforced norms regarding motherhood and the potential dangers of applying genetic selection to humans. It evokes themes of bodily autonomy, women’s rights, and the historical legacy of eugenics, particularly within the German context.

Prompt: What would be the Library of Congress subject headings for this sticker? Please do not use capital letters and also separate the terms with semi-colons.

abortion — law and legislation — germany; human reproductive technology — moral and ethical aspects; eugenics — history — germany; protest movements — germany; women’s rights — germany; bodily autonomy — social aspects — germany; political participation — germany; social action — germany; stickers — political aspects — germany; reproductive rights – Germany

Prompt (a few hours later): Do you remember the German sticker I asked about earlier today?

Yes, I do remember the German sticker you asked about earlier today. It was a black and white image with text addressing themes of reproductive rights and critiquing eugenics. If you need more information or assistance with that topic, feel free to let me know!

You had given me Library of Congress subject headings. I had asked that you not use capital letters, but I need a capital G on Germany. Can you revise?

Certainly, here are the revised Library of Congress subject headings with ‘Germany’ capitalized:

abortion — law and legislation — Germany; human reproductive technology — moral and ethical aspects; eugenics — history — Germany; protest movements — Germany; women’s rights — Germany; bodily autonomy — social aspects — Germany; political participation — Germany; social action — Germany; stickers — political aspects — Germany; reproductive rights — Germany