Loab: The Halloween Series Continues

Our last ‘spooky tech’ blog was silly. A delightful haunted MacBook from the USA which ultimately ended up helping the family with rap battles and the hoovering.

Honestly, we thought it was a bit too silly. So we asked our writer to find something creepier.

Evidently peeved by our request, Heather (another Heather. We know, it’s confusing. We promise that people don’t have to be called Heather to work with us) our copywriter decided to give us exactly what we asked for, and came up with…this.

This genuinely needs a trigger warning. We’re not joking. This is properly creepy. Honestly, we’re a bit wary of going back on the internet after reading this, and nobody is more skilled in navigating the internet than we are.

Again, this is not a joke. If you are prone to nightmares, do not read on. 

If you’re not…we warned you!

Here’s the tale of Loab.

Who is Loab?

Let me take you back to April 2022. A distant time, a strange time, a time just over a year ago. Cast your mind back and try to recapture that febrile moment: pandemic restrictions slowly lifting, vaccination programmes in full swing, and AI having quite the moment as bored homeworkers played innocently with new AI art apps (forgive us, Loab! We knew not what we did!)

One such AI artist was Swedish musician ‘Supercomposite’. 

One dull April day, Supercomposite was playing around with “negative prompt weights” (i.e. forbidding AI from using certain keywords, hashtags, and subject areas when creating images). What she wanted to find out was what happened if an AI algorithm had no access to defined keywords, and had to make use of the ‘latent space’ between keywords. 

Is this the most Swedish musician thing that a Swedish musician has ever done? Yes. What were the results?


Trigger warning again.

Meet Loab:

The birth of Loab is a well-documented process that Supercomposite went into in detail, but basically it amounts to asking AI to generate the opposite of various images until it ran out of keywords to use and came up with this – a woman that Supercomposite named Loab.

Why is Loab the end result? Well, dear readers, she isn’t. Loab is the gatekeeper. She’s a warning. An omen. When you see Loab, you have gone too far and it’s time to turn back.

Let me explain:

Liminal spaces

As Wezzcountry people, we could have told Supercomposite that it’s never a good idea to mess around with liminal spaces. Traditionally, liminal spaces (the in-between places that are neither one thing nor another. Seashores, bogs, stairways, dimsey, dawn…) are where the Good Folk* lurk, waiting to drag you down into their own terrifying world.

Round these yurr parts, The Horseman waits in liminal spaces, waiting to lead you into the bogs or over the edge of a tor. Or it’s the Lords And Ladies**, who would like to add you to their repayment plan on the loan they owe to Hell.

On the internet, apparently, it’s Loab. Or, rather, Loab is the warning. She’s like the will o’the wisp that looks spooky as hell but is actually a very useful warning that there’s a dangerous bog ahead.

Supercomposite was taken aback when Loab popped up from the AI. Loab certainly has a distinctive appearance, after all. But Supercomposite, like all the best horror victims, was not unduly concerned. She did as she had been doing previously, and ordered the AI to generate the opposite of Loab.

What ensued was what Supercomposite would later describe as “Visions of hell”

Supercomposite has never shared the images that lie beyond Loab, but they were clearly violent, gory, and disturbing in the extreme. Even our stolid Swede was perturbed, and closed her phone, deeply troubled by what the theoretically ‘innocent’ AI had shown her.

So, was that an end to it? Did Supercomposite heed Loab’s warning?

Come on. When did anyone ever do the sensible thing in a horror story?


Supercomposite just couldn’t leave it alone. “Ok”, she thought, “rather than play with the latent space around Loab, why not engage with Loab herself?”

Supercomposite began combining Loab with other pictures. 

Now, in ordinary circumstances, these prompts should return images with varying degrees of Loab, but not actually OF Loab. Eventually, it should be possible to ‘evolve’ the images away from the original source image, and come up with something entirely Loab-free.

Do you think that happened in this case?

Of course it didn’t.

Whatever Supercomposite combined Loab with, and no matter how much distortion she added, Loab popped right back up, in all her original glory.

At this point, everyone from the Celtic Fringe was shrieking “STOP IT, SUPERCOMPOSITE! LEAVE THE LIMINAL SPACES ALONE!” But did she listen?

Supercomposite’s failure to listen

Supercomposite continued to chuck Loab at any and every algorithm she could find, consistently generating either Loab herself or the violent and gory images that Loab appears to gatekeep.

Frustrated, and increasingly troubled, Supercomposite turned to the internet. “What is going on, and why?” she asked.

Among the usual (and, for once, entirely reasonable) ‘Burn it with fire’ comments, there were some explanations. Unfortunately, none of them were particularly reassuring.

The most likely explanation is that Loab exists in a ‘vestibule’ of the internet isolated from any other region of the internet. And that this region of the internet contains exclusively violent imagery. By going deeper and deeper into negative, liminal, latent space, Supercomposite chanced upon this awful lobe of the digital realm – and could not then find her way out.

Comforting to have a rational explanation, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

Unfortunately, I did my MA in Old English Literature and – well, let’s take a look at the mythical geography of Anglo-Saxon Hell.

According to Germanic mythology, Hell is an isolated location contained within a ‘vestibule’ beneath the earth. It is possible for living people to reach it through the right ‘paths and incantations’, but they would be far better off not doing so.

If they do chance their luck and push forward on the road to hell, they shall encounter the Halirunnae – ancient sorcerers who warn them to turn back.

The Halirunnae have ‘soiled hair, red faces, and no eyes’.

Sweet dreams!

*Spoiler. They are not actually good.

**I may be a modern, scientific woman but I was brung up in Devon so there’s absolutely no way I’m even typing their true name. Work it out for yourself.