Phase Diagrams

2023, Video


Jennifer and Kevin McCoy explore the geologic compositions of constructed digital landscapes. In geology, the term phase diagram describes graphical representations of the physical states of a substance under conditions of temperature and pressure. In this series of works, the artists use StableDiffusion, a deep learning, text-to-image AI used to generate detailed images from text descriptions. They begin with creating forms that echo silhouettes of geological formations, and then proceed to activate distinct elements of each collage with image processing. The layers of images of rocks, mountains, water, and sky appear like striations across the screen, with each layer scanning through an image chosen from databases of AI-developed source images. Here, established media processes like photography and collage are juxtaposed with the swiftly developing technology of AI, and the landscapes reflect back this AI illustration of the natural world that exists in the uncanny valley of distant memory. In an interview, the McCoys explain, “We want to make a connection between the earlier aesthetic sensibilities and the new kind of image that is essentially a statistical image, an ‘averaged’ image created through mathematics.”

Exhibition History

4.5 BILLION YEARS, 2023, Brief Histories