Venus of Miami
oil on canvas, 108" x 60"
This large painting references Botticelli's classic "The Birth Of Venus". Instead of a demure Simonetta arriving on the placid shores of Cyprus on a scallop shell, the Miamian Venus is in a fraught landscape remixed by A.I. The shell has morphed into a beached carcass and she is surrounded by lesser gods distorted by technology, the way the swollen Bay of Biscayne is distorted by the Miami Beach skyline in the distance. The multi-ethnic Venus is engaging the viewer directly, as if inquiring their position in the tensions between humanity and the artificial, nature and the manufactured.
"Botticelli's Venus Standing On A Beach” oil on canvas, 36in x 36in
I've been intrigued and unnerved by the AI imagery that's lately flooding our feeds.
Some artists are worried these computer dreams will replace us, in some cases they will through simple saturation as they add to the field of visual products and enable anyone the thrill of willing into the world new images through something that resembles a slot machine more than creativity. It's too early to tell what reach this will have but likely huge.
Artists were already remixing and pastiching the past, which is what AI is doing, mining the vast reference library of existing imagery to bring forth new combinations. At this stage of prompt-to-image technology, there’s a liminal moment where its generative faculties produce startling images, yet with an unknown disturbing quality, especially when it comes to human anatomy. This hurdle is being cleared as we speak, and I imagine the strangeness will dissipate (unfortunately) as the AI "perfects" its mimicry of this strange notion that is beauty with all its cultural baggage.
I set out to produce a series of images based on a well known reference and standard of beauty, the Birth of Venus by Botticelli, suspecting the AI would stumble and produce something closer to alien and uncanny.
The results felt strangely related to the motifs I’ve been working on for the past years with my neo-romantic landscapes.
(the title comes from the prompt: "Botticelli's Venus standing on a beached Goyaesqe creature on the stormy evening shore, cinematic, dramatic, low angle, a dramatic matte painting, trending on artstation, vivid and vibrant and warm, 1:1")
Selecting one of these grotesque Venuses, and recreating it in an oil painting as if the AI image were a study, I complete a circuit that began with speaking to a machine, bringing the result back from the electronic world into something tangible. In choosing not to alter the image beyond the natural changes that come from the medium and the paint handling, there’s a degree of separation that happens with the AI interceding in the creative process that I find fascinating, portraying an unknown landscape that only exists through an incantation.
"Botticelli's Venus Wading” oil on canvas, 36in x 36in