Paradise Now, Picturing the Genetic Revolution

Steve Miller - Paradise NowSteve Miller, a graduate of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, has been producing work in digital format since 1984 and has exhibited extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia and is included in numerous public and private collections. Miller recently exhibited his Neomort show at Universal Concepts Unlimited in New York. His work has been widely shown over the past ten years at venues such as: The Public Art Fund/Times Square Electronic Bill Board, the CAPC Musee Bordeaux, France, and the Centre National D’Art Contemporain de Grenoble, France.

In 1992, I began investigating the genre of portraiture by using new medical imaging technologies. I inspected the painted portrait, which had been marginalized by photography, by examining the organic interior of the human body. In these portraits, the sitter’s identity is no longer limited to outward appearance, but viewed through medical images, such as x-ray, MRI, sonogram, EKG, and CAT scans. Rather than being a depiction, these new portraits focused on identification using internal vistas and abstract symbols of medical nomenclature.

In 1993, the art collector Isabel Goldsmith approached me to paint her portrait. Working on portraits at the electron microscope level was a logical extension of my previous investigations using new technologies in traditional art categories. I proposed doing a genetic portrait, and took a blood sample from Ms. Goldsmith to the John Innes Center in Norwich, Engtand, for processing. The nuclei from her white blood cells were placed in a French bean culture, where her chromosomes went through mitosis for two weeks. The chromosomes were then photographed under an electron microscope, numbered and classified by size by the geneticist Pat Heslop-Harrison.

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