Starting in June, there was a week long art festival with an event everyday showcasing a new cryptoart exhibition. The exhibitors included SuperRare, MakersPlace, KnownOrigin, Pixelchain, Mintbase, Josie Bellini, OpenSea, AsyncArt and Chain Guardians.
Majority of the events took place in SoHo plaza, a district that is located North East of the map just left of the massive cyberpunk district Aetheria.
All the galleries are located walking distance from each other, filled with NFTs from their website collections on the walls. It's a interesting experience to walk around the gallery instead of scrolling the website.
The artworks on the wall were interactive as well. Clicking on the cryptoart opened up a menu warning that you were about to open an external website. This is a safety precaution to verify you're going to the correct website and not a phishing scam. If you verify that the URL is correct, a nifty feature that Decentraland implemented is the ability to check a box to 'trust this domain'. Once checked, you can click any artwork on the wall and it will open up a link in a new browser tab for purchasing. After opening up a few links it started to feel like filling up a shopping cart.
Users got a free Proof-of-Attendance-Protocol (POAP) NFT for every event they attend. This basically means they showed up on time for the event. Collecting 10 of the POAPs gives all the collectors an exclusive NFT designed by Shibu, the art director of Decentraland, and a chance to win LAND in a prize draw.
The machines to claim a POAP were located around locations of the events. Since users are already logged in via their Ethereum wallet, all one needed to do was click the button and pay some gas for the transaction.
Now that the dust has settled, there were some good and bad things about Art Week worth mentioning.
Starting with the bad, it mostly came down to performance. During the launch of one of the galleries, we recorded <5 FPS at times. Wasn't the whole switch to Unity because of performance? Granted it's much better than how things were 1 year ago, but it's probably going to be a long time until DCL is ready for VR where any amount of lag can make a person quickly feel sick.
For the good, the galleries themselves looked fantastic. One of the nice traits about Decentraland is that it encourages people to design the facade of their virtual world. In many virtual worlds like VRChat, creators mostly concern themselves with only what's visible to the users like interior spaces since their world is isolated. In the case of Decentraland, worlds are connected to each other on the grid, so designing the outside of your building to be attractive for people to check out the inside is very important.
Hi Dan & Gauthier! What are the most significant data related to market growth? Any assets or actors standing out according to your NFT Yearly Report for 2019?
The volume of unique artworks traded on the blockchain is an evidence of the global growth of the Art segment: from 2,000 to 32,000 artworks in 2019. SuperRare is definitely the Art marketplace that drives most of the growth of the Art ecosystem, and is undeniably above the fray. The challengers are also strong, the art segment is fortunate to be supported by very mature actors.
Was there something that surprised you in the analysis results?
We suspected a lack of secondary market in the art segment, the report confirmed to us. It is one of the first times that we observe this reversal of trend in the purchase of NFTs. NFT Artworks are no longer bought for quick speculation, but more as a long-term investment.
You underlined that digital collectibles and NFT art have different trends, what do you foresee for the future of these assets? Right now, platforms like NiftyGetaway and also CryptoKitties invite established artists to create crypto collectibles, do you think such cross projects and collaborations are going to happen more often?
Absolutely. The growth of the NFT industry will be ensured by two main vectors: adoption of the technology by users, AND by creators. The phenomenon we are currently witnessing and which started a few months ago, announces in our opinion a new era of the NFT ecosystem. More and more creators (Collectibles, Art, Gaming, etc.) will be able to use NFTs as an expression Medium. Regarding art and collectibles trends, it is extremely tricky to predict the future of these segments, but everything suggests that Collectibles still have a bright future ahead of them, even if their market share is gradually declining. Art is gradually positioning itself as one of the potential main growth vectors for the entire NFT industry.
In the NFT panorama, crypto art still represents a small slice of the whole market. Can you tell us how the market is divided and why art seems more of a niche asset?
The NFT industry is still largely dominated by Gaming & Collectibles (about half of the ecosystem), Real Estate, Trading Card Games and Domain Names also represent massive use cases and an important part of the space. The golden age of NFT began with Cryptokitties and Decentraland, two Collectible and Real Estate projects, both of which gave birth to other projects exploring the same use cases. From a historical point of view, NFT Art is a recent use case, which still seems reserved for an elite.
You recently got a new investor at NonFungible, Polyient Labs, what are your plans for the year ahead?
We are extremely happy to count Polyient Labs as Key Partner for the continuation of our development! The gold mine of data that we have been collecting for more than two years now only needs to be exploited! Polyient will help us develop the tools and functionality that will allow any NFT project manager to monitor the performance of his project, but also to help players and traders to evolve more serenely in the ecosystem of NFTs, knowing precisely and in real time the exact value of assets.
Do you think the current global crisis or Ethereum's higher gas prices will affect the NFT market?
Yes and no. The NFT ecosystem survived the Global Ethereum Clogging caused by Cryptokitties craze in late 2017, early 2018. The projects that will last and that require heavy interaction have already implemented solutions as a result of the 2017 craze, other projects that fail to innovate will lag behind and fade out as we've already noticed
PS: The 2018-2019 NonFungible Art Report is available HERE
“Thato’s extraordinary works have been charming since the first day I came across the crypto art scene”
P: How do you define yourself in the crypto art scene?
T: I’m describing my experience of interfacing with ideologies and theories through minimalism and complexity.
P: Your creations have a sublime geometric balance. What do you call it?
T: I use balance to convey and evoke emotions, it gives order and serves as the narrator. I don’t have a name for it yet.
P: Patterns in your work are impossible to unsee, what about the process behind them?
T: The Turing patterns are based on the Gray-Scott model which can be simulated in Photoshop, Blender, C4D, Houdini, Max/msp, Rhino and many other programs. I’m currently exploring the patterns in Touchdesigner.
P: As a crypto artist with a design background, where do you see yourself fit in more, as “designer” or “artist”?
T: A bit of both, design often demands self-control while art gives more freedom. I use self-control to explore artistic freedom.
P: The simplicity and pureness of your work makes me wonder what it is like where you live. How is your real-world experience compared to your creations?
T: Johannesburg is beautiful, chaotic, noisy and wild. Art is my refuge, I can create order when I’ve lost control and complexity when things get too quiet.
Hi Matt! You designed the software you now use to create your artworks. Do you consider coding as an art form in itself?
My approach to coding is similar to making a representational drawing, going from the general to more specific. You initially block in your major forms - or in the case of coding, variables and functions. Then there's this back and forth between additive and reductive actions, comparing what you have to what you want. Just as a draftsman moves their attention between their subject matter and their sketchpad, a coder goes back and forth between a code's output and their coding editor. Both continually fine-tune until the outcome meets their intention. Often, there's still something that could be critiqued or improved. With experience and setting personal standards of excellence, the practitioner doesn't consider something complete until it rises to that level. And if you're lucky, there are Bob Ross 'happy accidents' along the way. On great occasion, we have to tear everything up and start over from scratch. So the process itself between art-making and code writing is very similar.
Code is little more than elegantly crafted instructions; shorthand which is interpretable. And it's the interpretation which carries so many aspects of performance and variability. Sometimes the result is deemed good. More often, it falls short of reaching the expectations of the creator or public. I say this tongue in cheek, but that sounds a lot like art.
We're still learning how to assess code as art. Is it elegance? Usability? The substance of the output? Does it even need to run or can it stand alone like a poem? I regard Sol Lewitt's wall drawing instruction pieces of the 1970s as some early examples of code art. Instead of utilizing a computer, he used human assistants on gallery walls. He proved early on that code doesn't require computers. Every artwork I make could be interpreted by computer, by plotter, by humans, by some technology that hasn't even been invented yet. Code and math are a future proof medium.
I think we can become very hung up on art as object - or consumer good. But for me, if something contains the ability to express - there's an opportunity for someone to regard it as art.
Is there some other esthetic you still wish to explore through your software?
There's more I've explored than I've shared. For instance, when I began this project six years ago, I was very interested in the concept of artificial intelligence. I wanted to encapsulate as much of my studio knowledge and life experience as I could into my software. At the time, machine learning and GANs hadn't advanced much and weren't used for art yet. So my notion of 'AI' was more along the lines of procedural instruction and complex algorithms than the neural networks we think of AI as today. In this vein, I broke down my studio scribble and cross-hatch drawing techniques into algorithms that functioned precisely how I work with a real-life pencil, as a human, observing a subject. I haven't utilized or shared much of that. And there's plenty of other experiments and projects which haven't seen the light of day yet.
Speaking of six years ago and how I chose to pursue the aesthetic I've become known for. I decided that making art with code was relatively accomplishable from the start. Especially abstract or geometric styled art. But to make art in my own representational style I'd already developed - that would be a worthwhile challenge. Something that might take years and at the time, I knew I had years to dedicate myself to something worthwhile. That was what I was interested in doing; to join two disparate chapters of my life into something cohesive, where I could thrive as the sum of my experience.
Is there an art piece or project you are particularly fond of? Why is it significant to you?
I'm fond of them all. I think my most recent piece, "Architects of the Future," is extra special. On a personal level, it brought a dark chapter in my life to a moment of self-actualization and perhaps closed that circle. I'm proud to share more things in common with Buckminster Fuller than I'd care to admit. Being able to share some of his wisdom and shine a light on him felt very appropriate and quite a kismet for how the quote I featured found its way into my life. On a broader scope, making the piece was just so much a labor of love for the people in this community. And it made me think about what messages belong to money and how we celebrate our heroes. I think this work might be one that influences further works.
You somehow “tune in” to color in your practice. Is there a piece of music or daily activity that helps you with that?
The tuning in to color might be a form of synesthesia, I'm not sure. It started very young in an effort to turn my family's black and white television into color. My working theory is that I created some neural pathways, doing that while my brain was still so pliable. It works best in the absence of color, but I've cultivated it to work over anything.
Tuning in to color doesn't require much for me. Sometimes I flip it on just to check it's still there. Like right now, my coffee cup is a melon yellow with a vibrating neon pink and orange outline, sitting on a radioactive green table with a pulsing dark purple diamond pattern. In truth, it's a bland white mug on a boring black table. My favorite thing to do is tune in to color while walking around art galleries or art museums. Some of the works explode and I get really excited seeing them this way. That's an aspect to what inspired some of my art historical master copies; just wanting to share that experience with others-- what the world looks like to me.
Tuning, as part of my art practice, doesn't work properly if I'm not in the proper mindset though. I have a rule never to force things. If I'm not in the mood to paint, I don't paint. If I'm not in the mood to write, I don't write. Same with anything where the quality of my performance is at stake. Mindset is very important. There's difficulty in switching between them because each mindset requires 100% of the stage. They don't play well with one another at any given time. So if I want to paint, I generally go to bed the night before with this intention for the morning. Or I'll go for a walk and then meditate twenty minutes. Setting mental intention and taking time to reset and prepare is everything.
Music doesn't hurt or help the tuning. The best I can do is have clarity and peace of mind - but maybe music helps me reach that flow-state where nothing requires any effort. About 10 years ago, the colors stopped for a while. It was probably equal parts of depression and not being particularly healthy at the time. Instead of colors, I saw patterns and varying degrees of dark and light - so I developed some art processes around that.
Your work references art history but also addresses current issues, calling us to build our own future. Do you think our choices in the (crypto) art world can affect other aspects of our reality?
Creatively, there's an opportunity to redefine what digital art is, what it means to own digital art; what that experience looks like for collector, artist, and public alike. This is the most obvious reality we affect. But beyond that, yes we can affect other aspects of reality. Because art has the innate ability to inspire and influence by connecting with people's hearts, the choices we make in the crypto art community can act as a gateway drug for inspiring other industries.
The traditions we begin, the tenor we treat one another, how we define art patronage, the ethos we bake into our contracts, the protocols we use - they all have the potential to stick around for a long time. Or at least have a heavy influence on what does stick around. Most of us grew up in the decline of the industrial revolution, inheriting traditions begun at least a hundred years before our time. Those systems became increasingly corrupt, favoring growth for the few over the well-being of the many. Reality has an opportunity to change globally; now more than ever.
For me, the most critical reality we can influence is opening a heart to the fact they are not alone. The world can feel very isolating and unfeeling at times because cold breeds cold and our warped systems have left quite a chilling legacy. But warmth can breed warmth just the same. I see that happening here in our crypto art community. What does it feel like to be a human being in a time of border-less, permission-less community that encourages rather than deflates? How can smart contracts circumvent the snail pace of corrupt legislation? Are there laws that don't need to be laws, but simply be accepted practice across our smart-contracts? In terms of solving the problem of artist royalties and creating a new era in art patronage, we are showing the world that the smart contract is mightier than senators, congressmen, and presidents. Where else can we prove that? How can what we're doing here influence other sectors to skirt the dirt of special interest dollars that have left so many behind? Right now on my website, I'm using NFT's to authenticate identity and grant collectors exclusive experiences related to the art they've collected. No passwords or usernames, just digital wallet diligence. How can that notion of NFT as identity inspire other industries? This community is a grand experiment with limitless potential to inspire and influence the outside world. The reality is that much of the world is sick right now and has been for some time; long before this virus. If we can show the world what a healthy and sustainable community looks like, it will go a long way toward mainstream adoption. People prefer to be healthy, want to be loved, want to be connected to inspiring people. We can be those people. We can become the model that makes the old model obsolete.
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.
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
“I’ve worked on a collaboration with Manards and haven’t had the chance to speak a lot with him. I love his work!”
F: What did you watch as a kid? Any cartoon? If so, which one?
M: Actually, cartoons have been a very important part of my upbringing, I believe I grew up in the golden age of Cartoon Network with cartoons like Dexters Laboratory Ed Edd n Eddy, Powerpuff Girls and many other classics. They definitely shaped my language and put a seed of imagination and a certain visual culture inside of me.
F: What' s your spirit animal? How do you relate to it?
M: I have never thought of it as a spirit animal, but dogs are and have been a very important part of my life. From the day I was born in my family we have had dogs in our household. I think I can have this certain observing calmness that dogs usually radiate and this skill often translates in art for me, for example, I am able to study a single object and learn through pure observation of it which helps a lot of if my goal is to recreate it and possibly play with the meaning of it.
F: An album and an artwork that speaks to you especially these days?
M: When working, almost always I'm listening to music. Lately, I have been listening to a lot of Yung Lean and my favorite album of his is Stranger. It is a nice mix of energetic/mysterious/nostalgic feelings that all are appreciated while I am working. I have been playing some Half-Life:Alyx in VR and I think I can call this game an artwork in some sense, it has been a great escape and fun, but also professionally looking at the enviourment of the game and the scenes and the level of detail has been very inspiring for me as a 3D artist.
F: Do you notice a certain repetitive theme or images in your dreams? How would you describe it?
M: Mostly, I have very deep sleep and don't dream a lot, but when I do it is something intense/surreal/horrifying that makes me wake up with cold sweat. I am not sure if there is a pattern of imagery, but I think it is like a month's worth of packed .zip containing anxiety and fears every now and then processed/released in a few intense minutes during a dream. I also don't often remember much of it, but there are bits and pieces which are bizarre enough to take them with me in the waking consciousness
F: How are you finding yourself in this period of confinement? Is the internet enough to escape reality?
M: I thought I am fine because I have never been really outgoing and I like to spend a lot of time inside with my pc, but in reality, this state has been around for a while already, and I feel that I am building some extra stress and worries because of this situation which also makes me more tired and maybe not so productive as usual. Also, the weather has been so nice in my region that I have picked up rollerblading in the evenings/nights when streets are completely empty and it kind of helps to kill the high anxiety levels that build up during the day.
What a pleasure to have a chat with you, Prometheus! You have been into crypto for a while now and you have recently collaborated with Ethereal Virtual Summit 2020, realizing seven portraits for a charity auction. Can you tell us more about this experience, how did this collaboration start?
Sure! That’s right, the world of cryptocurrencies attracted me in mid-2017, I got into cryptoart a little later.
As for my collaboration with the Ethereal Summit, it was an interesting experience no doubt. SuperRare was among the event sponsors, and the team wanted to organize a crypto auction to help Covid-19 charities by donating part of the raised sum. They were the ones who asked me if I was interested in taking part to the auction with my work and I gladly accepted.
What about the subjects of your portraits, how did the idea come about? Which portrait did you enjoy making the most?
So, the aim of the event was to actually create crypto collectibles rather than works of art. We decided to create the portraits of the main speakers, to sort of commemorate their participation in this year’s Ethereal Summit. I liked the idea of the classic collectible cards, so I played around with a style remindful of American baseball cards, almost in a vintage fashion.
The portrait that I liked making the most was Hudson Jameson’s, I’d say. He’s a fun look, and taking his twitter profile as a source of images and information, I enjoyed filling the card’s background with ice-creams and cats!
You present yourself as a father and tattoo artist, but your love for crypto has always been alive too. Can you tell us where your passion comes from and how did you approach the crypto art movement when it developed?
As I said, I started studying cryptocurrencies back in June 2017, more or less. I’ve always been one of those people constantly interrogating themselves and questioning things, sometimes raising even too many questions! While looking for answers, I’ve always had a “troubled relationship” with financial markets, sort of a love and hate thing… Sometimes I would dream about being a ruthless manager, other times I’d loved to be a hippie.
Eventually I understood the best thing one can be is themselves, and I started thinking of myself as someone between a ruthless manager and a hippie, in a way. Why should these figures be impossible to combine, after all? Cryptocurrencies helped me find the balance between the two.
All your works always have a rich system of references behind them, and your style kept very recognizable despite evolving over time. Does your creative process follow any pattern? Would you share some technical insights with us?
I believe that what identifies my work the most is that each piece tries to convey a concept or to stimulate deep reflection. This turns into a limitation to some extent because I hardly ever “take it easy” when I work. But if you take a good look around you might as well notice there’s not much to be carefree about, and what I produce can’t be detached from what surrounds us, from what I perceive.
I love observing the world in all its facets and think. I’m satisfied when I am able - or I try, at least, - to render an intricate reflection into a simple image, a graphically neat work – I don’t really like “special effects.”
What is it that really drives your art?
Well, that’s a good question. I think it is mainly three things: a fundamental one is that I find in art a voice to speak my mind, a way to share my opinion with very many people and possibly provide food for thought. Another, related to crypto art specifically, is the idea to be part of a captivating and innovative reality. And the last one is related to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, a discourse many of my works address, which will allow me to say in a few years “I was right,” and tell my daughters’ children that while a page of history was written I was there.
Where were we celebrating the great Bitcoin halvening of 2020? Staying home and exploring virtual worlds of course! During Consensus Distributed we teleported to the Crypto Valley Convention Center in Decentraland and picked up some sweet digital swag from DCG!
The entrance of the convention center greets guests with a story about the global events leading up to this years conference. From record breaking money printing to working from home, we are seeing a perfect storm playing out for both blockchain and virtual worlds.
"The very fabric of our financial system is being put to the ultimate stress test. Central banks are operating with the belief that there is "an infinite amount of cash." Is this true? Can central banks continue to prop up the system? What does this mean for the future of money? Will cryptocurrencies find their moment or will the future be ruled by central bank digital currencies like China's new digital yuan? Will we see a rise in decentralized governance solutions to fill the void left by waning confidence in major instituions?"
Inside there is a wide stage and giant screen playing the livestream from Consensus this year. A small crowd of avatars gathered together waiting for the DCL tour with DCLBlogger and Barry Silbert. Unfortunately technical issues got in the way. I guess streaming live demos in a fully digital conference requires extra blessings from the demo gods.
Next there was an after party event on the roof of the convention center. An elevator outside took you up to the rooftop lounge area where a spinning consensus logo can be seen above the bar where other avatars gathered.
Although the experience looked visually interesting, the interaction with other players only through a public text chat felt very limited. VOIP support to talk, spatial audio, and ability to chat privately seem like key ingredients for those serendipitous hallway experiences to naturally occur.
Right after the DCL event was a social money art walk through Cryptovoxels, hosted by Roll and Coindesk. The timing was tight so we missed it, but the art walk can still be explored. Follow the arrow signs by moving around with your mouse and WASD after visiting this url: https://www.cryptovoxels.com/play?coords=W@317E,67S
Conferences that take a full year of planning have been forced to translate that into a fully digital experience within a matter of months. Although video conferencing has exploded as a result of working from home, they still fall short of the ability to walk into the hallway and have a chat with someone. Luckily, this is the type of scenario that avatar embodied communication platforms can deliver. The year 2020 marks the beginning of a great experiment.
Humans are social creatures, but are unable to gather in large groups due to the pandemic. Now that WHO is saying that we may have to live with this virus forever, virtual worlds are being taken very seriously as the future of socializing and work (see: virtual studios). As we learn to live and work online we hope that people who migrate to these digital spaces will desire ownership or a stake in its future by becoming collectors of nifties.
In the meantime, CoinDesk has partnered with Gitcoin, The Giving Block, and Ethereal Summit to raise money for a handful of nonprofits to provide relief to communities that need it most. Some accept cryptocurrency payments, visit here if you want to help: https://www.coindesk.com/consensus-2020/NYBWGIVES
Eleonora, coming from the contemporary art scene, how was it to approach curation in VR? What advantages and downsides does Cryptovoxels have in comparison to traditional art venues?
Honestly, my approach to curation was the same as for the contemporary art scene. I always want to treat art the same way, regardless of whether it has a digital or physical form.
The opening night is maybe the most important moment for an art show, the time when the space really comes to life. A downside of Cryptovoxels is the lack of energy during the opening. While in a real space you would meet, laugh and exchange ideas, in VR you can’t. I got ready for real, though! I showered, dressed up, put make-up on, even if no one could see me, of course (well actually yes, on the videoconference for ETH Turin).
As an advantage, Cryptovoxels allows you to invite half the world through a link, and people can actually participate, I loved it! You can send as many invitations as you like for an event in the real world, but it’s unthinkable that everyone will show up. That is possible online: virtual spaces can really cancel space-time barriers.
The exhibited artists were chosen through an open call and you mentioned how interesting it was to find out about their artistic identity. Can you describe each one of them with one word?
Did the space influence the artwork selection or was it the other way around? For instance, I am thinking about the room devoted to KaySha's works.
As for a real venue, there is a continuous dialogue between art and space. I selected the artworks looking at content and the number of pieces to be shown based on the amount of production in the author’s artistic career. In the meantime, Hackatao built the gallery and placed in it the works I had chosen.
For KaySha's production, the room came first, and the work was chosen for it. Hackatao wanted a space in which people would feel trapped, and the sisters’ duo were the only ones who could create panic!
Anyway, every time you exhibit art, whether in virtual or physical space, the work and its surroundings have an interrelation. That was also true when I worked in Ai Weiwei’s studio, he would always look at the space first, either to fill it with the most fitting pieces or to possibly produce a new piece inspired by it. In CR(Y)PTALY too there was a site-specific work: the 3D figure designed for the hall by KaySha, sculpted directly in VR.
Do you have a favorite piece or room in the gallery?
Yes, there’s a place where I would go even before the opening, just to spend time with the works in it. It really comforts me. I’m talking about Undeadlu’s Cyber Prayer and the room where it’s displayed. The work to me shows a forgiving mother, between human and machine, in the act of praying. Together with two other pieces by the same artist, again showing feminine figures, it creates a sense of shared nostalgia and yet resilience, powerfully speaking about current times.
At the ETH Turin conference, you said there are no common factors in the themes and topics of Italian crypto artworks, but you noticed they share a stronger “physical presence.” Can you expand on that?
Sure! First of all, I was happy not to find stereotypes or precise replicas among the works of Italian crypto artists, they all explored different topics and approaches!
What I mean by “physical presence” is that many artists come from physical art: some are transitioning, some explore generative possibilities, some combine the two languages, seeking a balance between digital and material art.
To me, Hackatao’s work is just art. Coming from matter, consistent in style, rich in themes and references, you cannot draw a line between digital means and physical materials in it: it’s the perfect intersection of the two. An artist as Mattia Cuttini instead continuously changes mediums and methods. Still, paper is where he comes from and where he often goes back to - just consider the crypto art catalog he recently printed.
Materials are crucial to White Dada, who before compressing words on digital canvasses prints them in enamel on real ones, and Van Gango, a trained painter. Arctic too told me she has always been drawing in her life, but after realizing that there were too many rules encoded in drawings, she turned to generative art, where code is openly part of the creative process. And finally, someone like Fabiello found anything he’s ever looked for in crypto art, where he could combine his two big passions: drawing and technology. Maybe, the most natively digital of all are KaySha, with their young age and their VR sculpture.
What is your opinion on the role of curation in the context of crypto art and VR? Did this experience change your views?
Curation is great in many contexts, I find it necessary and beautiful. I curated an auction of digital art on the blockchain and more recently spoke at the Async auction of Cypher::Prophet, so I had the chance to talk about the pieces and the stories behind them in the digital scene. People are happy to get insights, they thank you for explaining things. We all need to hear what a work has to say at first glance, art has to speak directly first, but then you need to learn and understand more about it. People must tell stories about art and artists!
Also, for artists themselves curation can be great. They need to hear someone else’s words on their pieces. In CR(Y)PTALY some artists were new to curation and really appreciated it.
Any other projects you are involved in or looking forward to?
Yes! I want to keep curating digital and crypto art, to create a bridge between “nerdland,” the virtual space, and contemporary art in the established world. We need an old, more widely understood language with super new content in art right now, to reach everyone.
I’m trying to do this that with Breezy Art, my gallery. I want it to be online and distributed, with a physical presence, a wall that people can see in real venues too, as I already have in the New York design showroom “Italian Green Design.” Traditional galleries are over: they are fully alive only at the opening night, it’s unsustainable to have them truly full just a few days a year. But of course, digital art needs a physical component to attract traditional collectors, so a native digital piece could be enhanced by a Meural canvas, an opaque screen framed in wood, and coming with a museum look.
As for future projects, I’m setting up a physical exhibition with digital content in Rome, showing crypto artists together with established ones, like Ai Weiwei. It was supposed to open on May 16th, in the amazing location of San Salvatore in Lauro, a beautiful church with cloister and garden, already hosting a museum. This is the perfect setting, a sacred space that Italian people can understand, that helps them to tune in to an aesthetic that’s new to them - if it will happen in Berlin, we could set it up in a bunker instead. Because of the global emergency, it’s currently postponed to September, with the new title of “Renaissance 2020.” The artists are working to provide an answer, a vaccine for souls, to prompt a new renaissance.
As part of this year's CoinDesk Consensus: Distributedconference, several Cryptovoxels art galleries will be featured during the Social Money Art Walk hosted by Roll. Come join Connie Digital, Matt Kane and several artists on Monday, May 11th beginning at 3:30PM EDT. The event will take place inside of Cryptovoxels until 4:00PM EDT with the following schedule:
Additionally, you can check out more of Connie’s artwork on display in VR during the Bitcoin Halvening (also happening around May 11-12). In celebration of this rare event that only happens every 4 years, there will be a Countdown Party going on inside the Bitcoin Citadel world of VRChat! You do not need a VR headset to join the party, but you will need Windows. To learn more about the event details, be sure to follow @AlienTreeHouse on Twitter for the latest.
Connie also recently made a guest appearance on the popular Cent Podcast where he discussed many happenings in the crypto world, including: NFTs, social money, decentralized virtual worlds, NFT.NYC and more. You can listen to that episode here.