A silvery puddle spread across a rough concrete surface, reflecting dim light.

Still from Ezra Miller, Puddle 1, Scott Ave, 2023. Video and generative software.

Commissioned by Hyundai Artlab, © Ezra Miller

Using AI tools, Ezra Miller creates images and videos that are realer than real. Here, he speaks with writer and curator Elizaveta Shneyderman about his show at Nahmad Contemporary and his Artlab Digital Commission.

Ezra Miller is a New York-based artist who weaves together organic and digital processes to create vivid artworks that transform the mundane into entropic portals.

His signature moiré ripples and folds harness the textures of digital interfaces into compelling visual fields. For The Painter’s New Tools at Nahmad Contemporary, Miller’s digital work was core to the show’s exploration of painting without paint, by finding new ways of manipulating paint through use of software, CGI, code, and AI. He utilizes similarly compelling techniques in animations, video, and design.

In his Digital Commission work for Hyundai Artlab, Miller transforms an everyday experience–walking past a puddle in a gutter–into a sumptuous visual that pushes the boundary of reality.

We asked Miller about his process, the philosophical possibilities of technology, and the parallel structures between computational and biological systems.

An artwork depicts an abstract scene in a gridded frame.

Ezra Miller, lmago, Real-time generative software, custom built PC, 2022.

© Ezra Miller

We’d love to begin by having you walk us through your digital commission for Hyundai Artlab.

I have been captivated by the overlooked beauty of gutters and puddles in New York City for years, and I've explored this in my past work. For the commission, I decided to revisit it using new tools. I employed a custom-trained Stable Diffusion model to generate and manipulate two videos of puddles I filmed  near my studio. The approach to making the videos was new to me. I had never used this specific process before and found it to be extremely captivating. I ended up making an extraordinary number of variations before settling on the final two. I was surprised by the amount of possibilities generated by this new way of working, and how difficult it was to decipher between the original video and the generated one.

How has AI factored into your practice?

AI has become an integral part of my artistic practice. It augments my skill set in various software, and as the technology evolves, it allows me to express my ideas more fluently as I explore undiscovered ways of combining processes. I'm particularly excited by techniques that harness the power of diffusion models. These advancements open up new possibilities for artistic expression and challenge the traditional boundaries between the artist and their tools. I find beauty in the line between the AI’s “thoughts” and my own, often using these tools in an automatist way that guides my thinking and leads me to new directions, which can be a creative process in itself.

An artwork reflecting a natural landscape with sky, overlaid with multi-colored lines.

Ezra Miller, lmago, Real-time generative software, custom built PC, 2022.

© Ezra Miller

Can you speak about how you blend organic (natural world) and digital patterns in your work? What is the significance of this gesture to you? When did you first start noticing the parallels between these kinds of textures / networks?

I'm fascinated by how the same patterns and structures found in nature also emerge through computational methods, almost subconsciously. This phenomenon highlights the inherent connection between the natural world and the digital realm; they both share a common foundation. Just like any artist who attempts to recreate the natural world with the tools at their disposal, I strive to do the same through digital tools. I've noticed these parallels throughout my life, but I've been delving into them more intensely over the last decade while expanding my knowledge of both areas. My goal is to prompt the viewer to appreciate the intricate beauty woven into both natural and artificial systems, as well as forge my own digital methods of reproducing the world around me, in the same way a painter or sculptor would.

A bench positioned in the center of a brightly lit gallery, surrounded by various paintings on the walls.

The Painter’s New Tools at Nahmad Contemporary

Photography Tom Powell Imaging.

Can you speak about which aspect of Artlab’s own ecosystem came into play with this piece?

Artlab's perspective on technology and our living environment in particular, has been inspiring to me. Artlab emphasizes the convergence of art and technology to help us examine the present. Their focus on organically connecting digital and physical spaces creates a holistic art experience that encourages dialogues across different mediums. Technology plays an integral role in achieving the transformative effect of art, encouraging us to view our everyday environment with a fresh perspective. By merging the digital and natural worlds, I can create powerful visual experiences that invite viewers to engage with the beauty that surrounds us.

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