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KnownOrigin is a crypto art platform and online marketplace for authentication and trade of original, limited-edition digital creations through the Ethereum blockchain. After being accepted into the gallery artist network, creators are free to set their profile and issue up to 25 multiples of each work they wish to present to the public. Once uploaded to the platform, artworks are tokenized to validate provenance and rarity and can be browsed by collectors according to their subject or technique.

All digital works show a set price in Ether and are bought and sold through Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency. As for commissions, the platform receives 15% of the sale price on all purchases.

KnownOrigin is a project built by BlockRocket. It was launched in Manchester on April 5th, 2018 with a pop-up gallery where the art world and the crypto community could meet and buy both physical and digital artworks in Ether. David Moore, James Morgan and Andy Gray are the three co-founders of the platform and are all based in Manchester, UK.

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Martin Lukas Ostachowski On His Creative Process

Hi Martin! Your art usually combines coding, traditional techniques, and a special attention to clouds and what they can signify. Would you share some insights on your creative process with us, accompanying us to the discovery of one of your works?

The foundation of my work lies in continuous practice. I make an effort to work on my art regardless of where I am every day and maintain sketch- and concept books. In my concept books, I develop new ideas for artworks and algorithms in a structured process. As an example, how could I explore a particular topic visually? In contrast, my sketchbooks serve as a casual playground; I practice drawing and experiment spontaneously. Each book seems to address one half of the brain, so maintaining a balance is vital to stay engaged over the years. Matisse said something along the lines that inspiration only finds you working, and I notice that daily practice makes me much more receptive.

Artbymlo

Daily practice is essential for the development of my work.

Most of the concepts I develop from the idea stage further align with my current body of work of promoting and educating about Blockchain technology. I believe that blockchain will change our world far beyond its currency aspects and that a basic understanding becomes critical for inclusion. Imagine an art exhibition that takes people by the hand, guides them through the maze of buzzwords and technical complexity and leaves them empowered to learn more; that's what I am working towards. Last year, I held a solo exhibition with the first batch of mostly physical artworks. I learned a lot in conversations with visitors, which pointed me in several directions on where to elaborate to make the story more understandable.

Transaction Sender

Transaction Sender & Transaction Recipient (diptych)
Acrylics and woven, hand- and laser-cut paper
2019


Most of the pieces I create can take weeks, months, some even years. So, software became crucial in visualizing my concepts before I start these lengthy creations. Using graphic design software for more than 20 years, it comes easily to me to build mockups and validate ideas. A few years ago, these digital concepts were relatively detailed and elaborate, but I began working much more iteratively over time. Often this results in additional studies, happy accidents and new directions.

It was only in spring 2018 when I started exploring generative art, encouraged by joining the platforms SuperRare and KnownOrigin. While I do not consider myself a coder, my self-taught base of web-based programming helps me to tackle increasingly challenging projects. A process that works well for me is breaking overall algorithms into small manageable pieces and building it up. Let's take my recent animated artwork, "Ephemeral Thoughts on Digital Wallets," as an example. In this piece, I went through dozens of iterations, tweaking the algorithm continuously towards the initial concept for several weeks or even months.

Interations

Iterations towards the animation Ephemeral Thoughts on Digital Wallets
2018-2020


My released artworks are sometimes several steps further than the initial idea. The moment I find myself in the final stretch of solving an issue or completing an algorithm, I am already focused on the next iterations, which usually add more complexity. If I find a way to communicate an idea better, I can become pretty stubborn and not afraid of hard nuts to crack. This approach extends the creation process and allows me to learn and grow with every artwork.

Ephemeral Thoughts on Digital Wallets
2018-2020

Developing most pieces iteratively, I keep working on several pieces at the same time. For some of these artworks, it can take a long time to gather the necessary material, i.e. aerial videos. I am working on several pieces for which I already recorded cloud videos on passenger flights over two or more years. Others keep evolving, such as my woven and cut-out pieces. This series started as painted artworks back in high school in 2002. With my new animation experience, I aim to digitize and enhance some of them later this year.

THANKS!

Art

NIFTIES Interviews Mattia Cuttini

Hi Mattia, it’s great to have a chat with one of the first and most active members of the crypto community. You are always ready to introduce and help out beginners in the space, would you like to start by sharing with us how you got into the crypto art scene yourself?

At the end of 2018, hex6c pushed me a lot: basically every now and then he would tell me "tokenize this, tokenize that." I had a small amount of cryptocurrencies and I've used them to tokenize my first pieces on KnownOrigin, and after some days on SuperRare. These are my main platforms right now, they both have done a lot for me so I'm faithful to them. And just because people helped me a ton, I do the same with others, that's simple. Oh, and I've done a collaborative piece on Async.art, right, that too was great.


You also witnessed the evolution of both galleries and community, with the rise of collaborations, bid wars, and VR shows, just to name a few things. How was your experience of that? What do you foresee in the future?

Yeah, you're right. It’s really good to evolve, even with ups and downs. Now I feel that we are still evolving, things are changing at the speed of light. What I can say is that experimentation and new features, like Async.art’s idea of programmable art, for example, will be the real game-changers.


Is there any figure or project in the crypto scene – or beyond – that particularly inspires you right now?

As I said, innovation is important but we also need some kind of "limits." Pixelchain.art, a pixel art tokenization platform of tiny 32x32-pixels canvases, is a good example of this "creative limitation" currently inspiring me. Limits make people do the best they can with a small set of possibilities, and with amazing results. I know that it seems impossible sometimes to have innovation with limitations, but there are a lot of good projects and examples. This reminds me of the simplicity of LEGO bricks and, considering my music background, the OP-1, an innovative synthesizer somewhat limited but also versatile, something you can use in infinite ways.
mattia-cuttini

Your artistic production is usually an interplay between the material and virtual realms, between analog and digital technology. During the lockdown you produced a beautiful paper catalog of some of your generative artwork, can you tell us more about the whole project?

As I've also written in my last digital output, Generated #30 Second Iteration - Animated on SuperRare, these works are the result of the Covid-19 lockdown. Once again, what is interesting about them is how the limitation of possibilities created such a result. I'm working on the second booklet now, that will be in full color, printed somewhere else than home - but I'll try to put some artisanal effort into it too. I think there will be a third booklet, to conclude the series with the last iterations. And maybe something to keep them all together, or some reprints.
Oh, I'm also in the process of printing some of these artworks as silkscreens - you know, this speed-of-light-change thing is true for my production too.


You proved to engage in endless experimentation while creating. Any hints on the future developments of your art practice?

Physical and digital means will clash more and more. I want to create some artworks with NFC tags - with Near Field Communication, the tech behind contactless cards. I'm also designing a physical "glitch machine" that might become an actual installation. Oh, and I've also to restart the "SpoXify Dreams" project - I've 2 pieces on KnownOrigin about this that was temporarily halted by the lockdown. So, stay tuned.
And thank you for the interview, Chiara!


Interview by art editor and curator Chiara Braidotti
Cover photo: image curtesy Irene Beltrame