VCA Curatorial Picks – Week 25th April, 2022

Welcome to this fortnight’s Vertical Crypto Art Curatorial Picks- our latest selection of creative innovators to watch out for in the crypto art space.

A fascination with comparisons between blockchain and biological processes brings the work of these practitioners together, alongside an interest in positioning crypto art amid wider art historical discourse.

So, let’s take a look at Harm van den Dorpel, terra0, Rhea Meyers, Mitchell F Chan.

Artist #1- Harm van den Dorpel, Mutant Garden Autobreeder, 2021. 

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The Berlin-based artist Harm van den Dorpel is a founding member of the artist-run left gallery, which specialises in ‘downloadable objects’.

Describing his dedication to ‘emergent aesthetics by composing software and language’, on his website, the links Dorpel draws between genetics and the blockchain are evident in our selected work, ‘Mutant Garden Autobreeder’, which is taken from his wider series ‘Mutant Garden series’.

A generative animated artwork, the piece is silent, runs infinitely and ‘breeds’ on the blockchain. The series is generated by an algorithm described as ‘Cartesian genetic programming’, a form of programming which uses graphs to represent a computer program as a 2D grid and can generate an unbounded set of media, language and structures (including 3 dimensional ones).

This interplay between the order of the blockchain and the boundless chaos of nature, (specifically neural networks)  is extended in his selection of the term ‘Autobreeder’, an anthropomorphic phrase which prompts a consideration of the man-machine dynamic, and also evokes ideas of cell renewal and mutation.

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Artist #2- terra0, Seed Capital, 2022. 

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Terra0 are a collective of ‘developers, artists and researchers exploring the creation of hybrid ecosystems in the technosphere’, based in Berlin and Amsterdam.

Like van den Dorpel, terra0’s work is packed with biological references. The group describe ‘Seed Capital’ as a ‘sculpture that suggests ways to rethink the economic and ecological relationships between artworks, viewers and institutions.’ 

The installation was created for this year’s Art Dubai fair, after they were approached by the collective curators, Fingerprints DAO. A plant stands in a public space, linked up to a series of cables and displays, which show regular and timed readings of the soil in a predetermined range which, in turn, are used to mint NFTs.

NFTs are announced on Twitter and described as ‘data packets’, recalling the real-life seed packets they emulate and arriving with soil moisture and temperature information, in an adjoining ‘Certificate of Growth’. That the term ‘data packets’ simultaneously leans into an alternative description of Blockchain technology, adds to the neat comparison between nature and technology.

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Artist #3-Rhea Meyers, pay previous path, 2019, Ethereum DApp. 

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Rhea Meyers is an ‘artist, hacker and writer originally from the UK now based in British Columbia, Canada.

Somewhat of a pioneer in this field, having created blockchain art and code since 2014, Meyer has exhibited widely and also writes essays on blockchain art theory and its relationship to the canon of traditional art history and theory. 

We have selected ‘pay previous path’ as it continues this fortnight’s interest in art history’s relationship with blockchain art-here through the use of line and its implied resemblance to early 20th century works by art history masters (Picasso or Miro perhaps?). 

In reality, it is created by anyone who can ‘create a vector drawing encoded in a similar style to the SVG path line-art format on the Ethereum blockchain in return for paying a small fee to the previous person who did so.’

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Artist #4Mitchell F Chan, Digital Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility, 2017.

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First minted in 2017, Mitchell F Chan’s ‘Digital Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility’ is an early NFT, which dives straight into core questions around the nature of conceptual art and its relationship with commodity.

Using Yves Klein’s 1959 conceptual piece  ‘Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility’ (which took the form of a receipt for a non-existent artwork) as its starting point, the work investigates how NFTs could ‘advance the conceptualist project of separating the commodity form of an artwork from the experienced form.’  

Chan’s discourse around the blockchain and what it means for the art canon and ownership of culture is further explored in his Blue Paper, which clarifies his thinking around the series. Central to his approach is his statement of the work existing as an idea and a broader consideration as to how digital spaces exist in a comparable immaterial space.

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