Imitation Art

Andy Warhol Netflix doc uses deepfaked voice to recite artist’s diaries

The WarholBot narrates Netflix's trailer for an upcoming docuseries on the famous pop artist.

Bettmann/Bettmann/Getty Images

Netflix is set to release a new docuseries next month on the life of Andy Warhol, and the streaming company’s first trailer feels very on brand for the seminal art icon: The two-minute ad spot includes narration from an AI-generated voice imitation of Warhol reading entries from the artist’s diary.

Unlike a recent, extremely controversial decision to include similar technology within last year’s posthumous Anthony Bourdain documentary, Roadrunner, the faux-Warhol ‘bot was okayed in advance by the Andy Warhol Foundation. It’s also pretty easy to envision Warhol himself approving of such a decision — at the very least, we can imagine him finding it pretty fascinating. Check out the trailer below for a quick dive into the uncanny valley.

Warhol’s own words — Adapted from the book of the same name by Warhol’s diarist and close friend, Pat Hackett, The Andy Warhol Diaries covers the majority of the artist’s life, including his upbringing in Pittsburgh, role in founding the Pop Art movement, and his attempted murder by radical feminist, Valerie Solanas. Warhol himself barely survived the shooting, and was forced to wear a surgical corset for the remainder of his life.

One of the lesser controversial AI decisions — All in all, constructing an AI program to approximate Andy Warhol’s voice is honestly one of the few instances the technology actually making a certain degree of sense. Given the artist’s fascination with mass manufacturing, modern media consumption, and artificiality, having a computer to imitate Warhol’s signature voice feels like an art project in and of itself. We imagine both the Warhol Foundation and the docuseries’ creators felt the same way about the issue. We’re curious, if nothing else, and will definitely give the adaptation a try when The Andy Warhol Diaries premieres March 9 on Netflix.