AI Technology Brings Andy Warhol Back to Life in New Netflix Documentary

andy warhol documentary

American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy has brought famed artist Andy Warhol back to life…sort of.

The showrunner has joined forces with director Andrew Rossi for The Andy Warhol Diaries, a six-part documentary that uses AI technology to recreate Warhol’s voice for the narration.

The process of bringing Warhol’s voice into the project saw actor Bill Irwin record the lines and then use a text-to-speech algorithm that incorporated Warhol’s Pittsburgh accent. The voices were then combined in an attempt to come as close as possible to the artist.

The series will trace Warhol’s journey as an artist as he moved between mediums and eras and as he experienced the highs of being adored and the lows of being deplored. Interviews with people who knew him such as John Waters and Rob Lowe are interspersed with footage of the pop-art icon and, of course, Warhol’s own musings as lifted from his posthumously-published diaries.

Amongst the ground covered in the series will be Warhol’s childhood in Pittsburgh, to his groundbreaking work, to his relationships with Jean-Michel Basquiat amongst others and the attempt on his life in 1968.

Per the show’s official description, While he was a larger-than-life figure, Warhol was intensely private regarding his personal life. This series truly reveals much about the very complex man through his own words – often in his own voice through the use of cutting-edge AI techniques – and those who worked, created and played alongside him from the subversive to the mainstream.”

Speaking to EW, Rossi explained part of the artist’s enduring legacy and appeal, saying; “Andy Warhol was famously guarded about his personal thoughts and opinions”.

“That’s one reason his Diaries are such a rare and fascinating window; he could be incredibly raw and emotional as he talked to his diarist over the phone. To fully appreciate the radical vulnerability that Andy shares in the Diaries, I felt that we needed to hear the words in Andy’s own voice.”

He continued, “I felt that the AI voice would honour two hallmarks of Andy’s life and artistic practice, stemming from his desire ‘to be a machine.’ Andy admired the fact that ‘machines have less problems,’ saying that, ‘I do have feelings, but I wish I didn’t.’ He even had himself made into a robot and a hologram during his lifetime, and he said, ‘the reason I’m painting this way is that I want to be a machine.'”

A luminary of the pop art scene and regular fixture of the New York party circuit, Warhol has remained a source of fascination and inspiration since his death from cardiac arrest in 1987. As one of the interviewees says in the trailer for the docuseries, “I don’t think you’ll ever figure Warhol out, and I hope no one ever does.”

The Andy Warhol Diaries premieres on March 9, 2022, on Netflix. Check out the trailer below.

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