With each passing year, the cultural boundaries that used to separate different camps of interests become thinner and thinner. Through the all-encompassing nature of social media, everything is under the same roof, and its inevitable that once divergent topics end up sharing space together. This can be seen in an equally curious and comedic light in the presence of Beeple on The Tonight Show.
Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple, is a digital artist known for his irreverent mix of fantasy, pop culture, and the grotesque. A disquieting thread runs through his work that is very evidently fuelled by an anti-establishment political ethos, treading a jarring line of humorous and horrifying in a dystopian future. From Disney to Trump, Nintendo to the pandemic, nothing seems off-limits for the bizarre and detailed depictions of Beeple. This is not to say that his work doesn’t also hold beauty—especially in earlier years, Beeple has shown a knack for creating transportive landscapes of sci-fi and cyberpunk natures, as well as deeply satisfying textural and geometric experiences.
But to know that an artist such as Beeple, whose style is so intrinsically tied to internet culture, would be a featured guest on Jimmy Fallon’s talk show would have been shocking to hear of one or two decades ago. There is a very clear difference between the aesthetics of Beeple and that of The Tonight Show, and you can see the artist is clearly tickled by the fact in his recurrent laughs to himself throughout the course of the night.
Beeple was celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of his project Everydays, a daily practice of digital creation he has been churning out for the last decade and a half. To mark the occasion, Beeple chose to create that day’s piece during the show. Taking inspiration from both Fallon and the audience, the artist made his way backstage to put together something encompassing such themes as the moon, spring, cherry blossoms, and people falling asleep to The Tonight Show.
What ensued was not in the least bit surprising given Beeple’s own repertoire, but was certainly a sight to be seen for the average late-night show. A massive depiction of Fallon’s head rested on a grassy plain, the moon framed behind it, and a small gaggle of corpse-like sleepers laying all around. The piece has a deeply surreal energy to it and rings of early 00s digital grotesques one might find themselves in a rabbit hole of. It’s a detailed depiction of Fallon, which tends to be what gives Beeple’s work its disquieting essence amongst these artificial settings. The artist was clearly giddily aware of the oddity that he created but the host took it in stride and was appreciative of this incredibly unique televised event.
Having just sold a collage of his daily project in the form of Everydays: the First 5000 Days last year for the sum of $69,400,000, Beeple has clearly stepped in as a major player in the NFT market. His style certainly is in accordance with the current trends of the sector, so it is no surprise that he has found success within it. And with a large player in the NFT field now being a choice for mainstream late-night TV, are we finally seeing the digital phenomenon making its way into the everyday?