Digital images created with generative AI and edited in Lightroom, 2022.

A capriccio (“capriccio” in Italian) is a genre of European arts that begin to develop in the Renaissance and grew during the Baroque period. Such paintings and prints depicted architectural fantasies that mixed familiar and unfamiliar. Existing buildings were placed in fictional settings or imagined as worn with time or as ruins. Buildings from different places could be also juxtaposed together, and non-existing decorations and plants added. For instance, in one of his works Canaletto places St. Peter from Rome and The Doge’s Palace in Venice next to each other. Such paintings and arts could also include small human figures (“staffage”).

Generative AI models are trained on hundreds of millions or billions of web images. During image generation, patterns extracted from these images are used to form new compositions. Therefore, in a certain sense generative AI image making process as a whole is connected to capriccio genre. But in some of the series I exploit this idea more systematically by deliberately directing AI to create architecture fantasies. For example, my prompts used for this series specified the phrase “modern city designed for Siberia in 1965, painted on large wood panel by Hieronymus Bosch.” (In one prompt version I substituted “giant airport’ for the city.)