This ‘World First’ Melbourne Pop-Up Is Turning Your Memories Into Masterpieces With Generative AI

5 min read

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The advent of AI image generators such as DALL-E, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion has shaken up the art world.

Suddenly, the ability to create striking visuals is no longer restricted to those with natural talent and/or years of artistic training. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on who you ask — but one thing that’s not up for debate is that Things Are Different Now.

The ability to create art today is at our fingertips — we’re all a prompt away from visual beauty. Show this technology to someone in the ‘90s and you would break their brain. Honestly, today in 2024, it breaks my brain.

While these tools offer a tantalising playground for the imagination, mastering the language of prompts — those carefully crafted text instructions that guide the AI — remains a barrier for many. Your end result is only as good as the prompt you feed The Machine.

Enter Enigma X, a Melbourne-based pop-up gallery pioneering the concept of Narrative Art. Here, your life stories — not an artist’s pre-existing vision — become the foundation of truly personalised artwork. Think of it as the ultimate in bespoke decor, where your most cherished memories and significant experiences translate into pieces gracing your walls.

Co-founders (and partners) Sebastian Hui and May Warburton created Enigma X with a mission to help every single person who walks through their doors bring out their inner masterpiece — no matter how good they are with a brush.


From conversation to canvas: the Enigma X process

The experience begins with a curation session — a blend of art consultation and guided introspection bordering on therapy. Basically, you sit down in the gallery, and an Enigma X artist guides you through conversations designed to get to know you and figure out what kind of story you want to tell with the artwork — even if you yourself don’t have a clue. 

We understand that not everyone speaks the language of art, explains Warburton. 

To ease this translation, Enigma X uses style books — curated collections of visuals spanning everything from classic oil painting techniques to vibrant pop art. It’s like offering a visual vocabulary, allowing you to say, ‘I want this feeling’ without needing the technical terms to describe it. Kind of like when you go to the hairdresser with a bunch of pics saved from Google Images on your phone.


​​Once you find a style that resonates, the artist crafts prompts inspired by your conversation and tailored to the strengths of different AI platforms. 

“You might find Midjourney is great at photorealism, But if you want some nudity you have to do something that’s open source like Stable Diffusion,” said Hui. “If you want something with words in it, DALL-E is terrible.”

The whole thing is a collaborative process; the AI generates initial concepts, and clients can offer feedback, guiding the artwork’s evolution. The finished piece is both tangible and digital. 

Clients receive a high-quality framed print and an NFT — a digital ownership certificate of the unique piece stored on the blockchain, a guarantee of uniqueness and a permanent link between the artwork and the personal narrative that gave it life.


The Enigma X artist: a hybrid of talent and tech

Enigma X’s artists have a unique challenge, acting as the go-between for client and machine.

In order to be able to draw out the desired result, they need to have a deep understanding of AI and a mastery of the intricate language that guides generative AI platforms. They also require a holistic understanding of artistic principles, and an intuition for reading human emotions and the nuances of human expression.

All these skills combine to help clients tease out the feelings, events and values they want embodied in their artwork.


The power of personalisation

Warburton and Hui see their work as an antidote to the sometimes alienating nature of contemporary art. Sebastian has a form of aphantasia that affects his ability to visualise. The first time he played around with image generation tools was a revelation. Warburton says Enigma X wants to open that creative door for everyone. 

This focus on the client’s role as the driving force of the art is what makes Enigma X an enticing branching-off point for the world of art, rather than a replacement of the traditional art gallery as we know it. Their artists use AI as a sophisticated tool, not a replacement for the human touch. 

And it’s through the meticulous conversation-led curation session that the essence of the client’s story remains at the core, not just the AI’s interpretation of a few words.


Narrative Art and the evolving landscape of creation

Enigma X sits at the cutting edge of an artistic movement enabled by AI. Its focus on Narrative Art raises intriguing questions about the future of creativity itself. As tools including DALL-E and Midjourney continue to evolve, AI-generated art will become more prevalent. Again, whether you like it or not, there is no stopping this without turning off The Machine.

The creation of art is now in the hands of the masses, which isn’t to say technical skill has become obsolete. Instead, Enigma X’s Narrative Art demonstrates a new era where the ability to articulate and refine an inner vision becomes paramount. AI tools transform into paintbrushes, wielded not just by the classically trained but by anyone with a story to tell.


This democratisation of art is exciting. It could empower individuals who never saw themselves as creators to express themselves in ways once unimaginable, and usher in a world where the walls of our homes are adorned with tangible, bespoke manifestations of our experiences and emotions.

Enigma X is a glimpse into a future where art becomes as unique as our individual fingerprints — even for people who struggle to draw stick figures — leaving behind a visual legacy that is deeply personal, authentic and enduring.

Enigma X is open Wednesday – Friday from 10:30am – 6pm, and 10 – 4pm on weekends. Find it at 447 High St, Prahran, where it will operate for the next four months.

All images have been supplied.