VCA Curatorial Picks – Week 14th March, 2022

We are back with our VerticalCrypto Art Curatorial Picks. 

After a short break we are back with our series discussing crypto art and digital art from the VCA community and beyond. 

Today, we glance through the lens of four artists who share a fascination with Artificial Intelligence [AI]- Gene Kogan, Claire Silver, Ivona Tau and Sarah Meyohas

United in their pioneering embrace of new technology and their challenge of pre-existing structures in the traditional art sector, each of these artists brings a unique perspective to the relationship between human and machine through their creative practices. 

Let’s take a closer look…

Artist #1- Gene Kogan, ‘Abraham’

Abraham Creations (https://abraham.ai/creations)

As much an educator on the potential and latest innovations in machine learning as he is an artist and curator, Kogan’s background in computer science comes to the fore in his ambitious projects. 

We are making particular note of his ongoing ‘Abraham’ project as, whilst he claims ‘I am no Utopian’, there is a commitment to principles of decentralisation in his approach, which drives a collective force in the creation of original work. This drive is clearly evident in this project, which ultimately aims to create an autonomous artificial artist, generated by crowd sourcing and AI. 

Curators participate by submitting text and depositing ‘Manna’ (tokens), via Creation Markets. A subsequent miracle occurs every Sunday, when an NFT is created on Ethereum. Abraham’s creations to date possess a surrealist, dream-like quality and are accompanied by amusingly literal titles, including ‘eiffel tower Kanye Robot’ and ‘Female cyborg with metallic boobs and laser eyes’.

Kogan is a cofounder of BrainDrops, a platform and community space for AI art on the blockchain, which supports individuals at different stages of experimentation with technology in their work.

Artist #2- Claire Silver- ‘Blood in the Streets, Late to the Ball’

“blood in the streets, late to the ball”, Claire Silver

‘Taste is the new skill’ declares the artist and curator on her website and it would appear taste is moving in her favour, as her work continues to rise in prominence and attract critical approval.

Having only started creating NFTs in 2021, Silver is the co-founder of Cryptovoxels.com, a metaverse designed to host galleries and curate collections and another member of the BrainDrops cohort. 

She describes her methodology as a collaboration between herself and AI and we have selected her ‘Blood in the Streets: Late to the Ball’ to consider, as it demonstrates the strong visuals possible whilst exploring the boundaries of tools, such as ProsePainter, which converts text to image. 

Both a physical item and NFT, the composition and drama of this work recalls the grandeur of old masters, whilst the soft colouring and hazy illumination directly calls to mind the work of Klimt (one of the artists she directly acknowledges as part of its cultural lineage). 

With a background in art history and marketing, Silver has been quoted describing new technology as an opportunity for a democratising force in the art world, a world previously weighted with barriers. This may underestimate her clear talent and ability to take risks however, as evidenced in her early adoption of Crypto Punks.

Artist #3 Ivona Tau- VISIONS: reflected

Visions: Reflected by Ivona Tau

One of the mentors in our VCA Residency Program, Ivona Tau is a Lithuanian artist who creates her distinctive photographic images using GAN (Generative adversarial network), where she relishes the interplay between ‘accident and control’. 

The striking results are well played out in ‘VISIONS:reflected’, a work created for ‘Sotheby’s X Boundless Space…The Possibilities of Burning Man’ charity sale event [2021] and selected for this week’s picks for the balance it strikes between photographic record and the fragmented nature of experience.

The dreamlike quality of the scene strips down spaces you would typically expect to see bustling with civilisation. A ‘strangeness’ is brought to the everyday- a trait which runs through other of her recent projects, including ‘Synthetic Still life’, where the everyday again takes on a stillness and proximity, and avoids any ‘pop art’ style celebration.

Her innovation in terms of working with AI was acknowledged in her winning of the Digital Ars 2020 award, for two of her previous projects: ‘These humans did not feel’ and ‘Unseen Warsaw.’ A recognised NFT creator, she has also featured in the top 50 artists selling on Hic Et Nunc and has spoken out on the challenges of being a female artist in a largely male-dominated [NFT] space.

Artist #4- Sarah Meyohas- Cloud of Petals’

CLOUD OF PETALS: 3291 PRESSED PETALS

An early protagonist and pioneer in the exploration of NFTs, Meyohas is perhaps best known for her ‘Bitchcoin’- one of the first projects linking digital tokens with physical art, which was instigated in 2015, notably predating Ethereum. Each ‘coin’ came with an adjoining physical relic of an original project, which could be redeemed on the basis that the digital coin be ‘burned’. 

We’ve selected ‘Cloud of Petals’ for our pick as the project continues to evolve since the start of its journey in 2016, when 16 male workers preparing and taking photos of 100,000 flowers in the former Bell Labs, photos which, in turn, were turned into a dataset and formed the basis of a new set of algorithms. 

The resulting virtual reality installation and short film created a delicate clash or joining of the biological, botanical, and mechanical (indeed, she writes of the ‘pulse’ of data through wires). There is also a concern with the relationship between randomness and order, which runs through from the presentation of organic petals within rigid grids, to the use of GAN to throw out ‘unknowns’ from organised data.

With physical ‘relics’ of the original project kept and attached to a batch of ‘Bitchcoins’ sold by Phillips auction house last year, the project continues to nurture its alternation between the physical and digital. 

That’s a Wrap! Thank you once again for tuning into our Curatorial Picks. We hope you enjoyed the selection.

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