Art and science have always had a close relationship. Throughout the Enlightenment period, great thinkers and explorers recorded their findings through text and detailed illustrations. Artists of the time utilized depth, perspective, shadow, and even the golden ratio to bring the images in their minds to life.
Though art and STEM fields may seem to resonate with different parts of the brain, for artists in the computer age, they converge. It is something deeply human that invites us, no matter our background, to play with tools as they become available to us. Is it any wonder that one of the first uses of the computer was to make art? Or that the early internet was filled with bugs, glitches, and slow download speeds that artists transformed into found objects worth enjoying?
The Dawn of the Digital
Victor Acevedo’s career evolved alongside the storied trajectory of PCs and the Graphic User Interface, or GUI period. But his interest in the mystical and the metaphysical nature of art began in his analog period. Having read books like “The Tao of Physics” by Fritjof Capra and Wassily Kandinsky’s book, “Concerning the Spiritual in Art,” he was immediately drawn to the metaphors in Eastern thought that explored the tension between things that can feel simultaneously full and empty.
“In the book, [Capra] discusses among many things, a metaphor found in Eastern mysticism called the ‘void plenum’ or the ‘void matrix,’” Acevedo told 79Au. “This can be described as a kind of omni-dimensional substrate of reality; a vast ocean of ‘isness’ that is paradoxically completely empty (void) and simultaneously full and brimming over (my words) with physical and metaphysical potentiality (the matrix or plenum).”
According to Acevedo, this concept spawned his graphic visualization of the so-called ‘void matrix’ as a structural field. Then he read R. Buckminster Fuller’s book “Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking.” There he found the field-like geometrical structures that became a wellspring of inspiration for many of his works. In pieces like “4-Fold Rotational Wasp” or “Penance Untitled with IVM (isotropic vector matrix) overlay,” we see the lines and angles at times penetrating the subjects, and at other times fading into obscure forms.
In 1983, Acevedo began exploring the digital realm, taking his appreciation for the concrete and the abstract with him. In pieces like “Huichol Ghost” and his video work “Proxima Nova,” a musical collaboration with Igor Amokian, one looks into a prism, experiencing the vastness that stems from looking at a familiar subject with new eyes.
“The use of the geometrical overlay is a way to metaphor the spatial and energetic structures that create a matrix or context for the figurative ‘happenings’,” he said. “It is an aesthetic choice to convey a particular graphic metaphor. For me, it’s more like the human subjects need the geometry.” In his piece “@_The Edge of the Metaverse v03” Acevedo explores the virtual/physical hybrid that has become modern life. “Now almost every human on the planet has their reality altered, enhanced, or impacted by digital technologies,” he writes in the artwork description.
“For me, it’s more like the human subjects need the geometry.”
Through geometrical overlay, Acevedo is able to represent the networks that connect all of our lives. Like lines connecting each of our devices, platforms, and versions of ourselves, the geometry reminds us of the invisible webs we weave throughout our lifetime. And with virtual and augmented reality, it is only going to get more convoluted.
Creativity in the Age of the Artificial
Erika Fujyama is a filmmaker whose freelance work led her to photography. But while looking through her many shots, she found herself more interested in the “bad” photos. “While curating still images, I would find that a few of them which don’t look technically good were interesting somehow. Then I started playing with them, using effects, overlays, filters,” and all of a sudden, what most would consider the scraps on the editing floor became the very materials of her digital art.
“What I like the most in this journey is that most of my digital artworks and NFTs are made of clips or photos that are ‘creatively reused’ or up-cycled raw materials converted into so-called artworks,” Fujyama told 79Au. “There’s something inside me that wants to transform the boring ordinary reality into something abstract, funny or provocative.”
While looking for webinars or communities that could help her learn how to use artificial intelligence in her work, she stumbled upon the world of web3. After finding AI, Fujyama’s eye, which was trained on film and photography, saw new ways of imagining the world around her.
In “THINKER,” she explored the idea of what artificial intelligence would consume if it were a living, breathing being that needed sustenance to survive. Using Midjourney, she tried different prompts along the lines of “if AI was a humanoid metallic sculpture, questioning his existence, reflecting if he could be considered an artwork.”
“My goal was to pick one good image of an AI being, and to make it process data as we humans process food,” she said. “Information and feeding have the same purpose and mechanism.” As Midjourney only generates still images, Fujyama then had to animate the piece. “I made a stop motion thing and gave some ‘life’ to it. Thinking is a never ending process that’s why it’s a loop.” Finally, Fujyama placed the artwork in front of the iconic New York Public Library on 5th Avenue.
“This world is made of vibrational patterns of thoughts, feelings, memories and experiences,” she writes in her artist statement. “Multiple layers of colors and dynamic shapes come around. I capture the potential of the outcomes and make them shine and coexist through art.” Placing a 3D sculpture in the middle of a busy building, where people may or may not see it, assuming they know it exists, captures this concept perfectly.
An AR rendition of “THINKER” placed in front of the NYPL, reproduced with permission from the artist
Existing In and Outside the Lines
As technology continues to expand far past what even the most far out science fiction creators can imagine, it will be artists who play, create, and ponder. In both Acevedo and Fujyama’s works, metaphor becomes the most precise means of communication. It’s difficult to grasp what is happening in today’s world, both because the technology changes so quickly, and because we may never truly know what lies behind the curtains.
Like with previous technologies, we see artists being the main users of both NFTs and artificial intelligence, and the exploration has only just begun.
In an age where digital creativity is flourishing, showing your work in progress has taken on a whole new meaning, especially in the realm of NFTs. These distinct digital footprints have created a thoughtful conversation for artists and collectors alike. But why should you be interested in sharing your work in progress, and how can this benefit both artists and collectors?
What is a Work in Progress?
Throughout the history of art, artists often shared their works in progress with close friends, patrons, or fellow artists to gather feedback or showcase their skills. Seeing an idea transform through multiple sketches has been a draw to art lovers for centuries, which is why exhibitions have sometimes featured an artist’s final works alongside the initial drafts.
With social media’s dawn, this process has become increasingly social, allowing artists to share their evolving pieces with a global audience of friends, patrons, and strangers alike. Platforms like Instagram and Twitter have created opportunities for visual artists to engage with their followers by showing incremental progress of their work. They can also talk through their concepts and provide context and inspiration that adds even more value to the final works.
The Role of the WIP in NFTs
In the NFT world, as in the traditional art world, most of our attention goes to the final artwork. The journey from concept to completion is often lost. However, a work in progress can often be just as powerful and meaningful as the completed piece.
And it is not always the end product that conveys the artist’s vision and creative process. Sometimes it is the steps taken along the way. “It’s a temporary oddity that the NFT world treats process like a secret formula while it’s a common discussion in contemporary arts,” Patrick Amadon, a painter and glitch artist wrote on Twitter. “Feel free to ask artists, it’s important information.”
With NFTs revolutionizing digital art, the work in progress has become even more relevant. We can’t see brushstrokes, layers of paint, and other discernible details of craft. It takes time and effort to understand the difficulties that digital, generative, and AI artists overcome in the process of making art.
The work in progress can help bridge this gap, giving us a better understanding of the creative process and bringing us the full story behind an NFT. It helps strengthen trust between collectors and artists, with both sides seeing how much thought, research, and skill went into each piece. Showing artworks in progress allows us to appreciate how an artwork has evolved, giving insight into what inspired it and why certain decisions were made.
The artist duo MABLAB also expressed on Twitter the importance of sharing “your work process and how the medium plays a role in delivering your message, the ideas and influences behind your work, some of the technical and intellectual aspects that construct the concept of your work,” as an important part of being an artist.
And for many digital art creators, the WIP serves as an opportunity to engage with their audience. Some artists use polls to ask their communities for input on which version of a work they should mint.
Sharing Value with Collectors
A WIP provides artists with an opportunity to not only monetize their creative journey but also to create a sense of closeness with collectors. They can watch the art evolve and feel that they’re a part of it. It makes the artwork and artist more memorable, creating a greater emotional attachment with the collector.
At the same time, collectors can feel that they are receiving something of value in return for their purchase. They get to be part of the creative process, sharing in its success or failure as it develops. This provides them with a sense of ownership and helps build trust between creator and collector.
It Pays to do the Work
The life of an artist is one filled with challenges, achievements, and lots of work. When a collector acquires a final artwork, they are buying years, decades of trial and error, of experimentation, of mixing colors and pushing through the trenches. The WIP not only acknowledges this work, but also brings it to life in illuminating detail.
Many successful artists share their processes, whether in diaries or in social settings. It’s this self-reflection that helped them to become so successful. So don’t be afraid to share. Embrace it, post it, and find that sweet spot between working and sharing that pushes you to be the most inspired artist you can be.
Self-promotion and art have always gone hand in hand, but what happens when only a few billionaires like Musk and Zuckerberg control the means of promotion? In 2023, we’re a long way from the innocent early days of Myspace and Tumblr. These social media sites used to encourage creativity, customization (remember learning HTML?), and community, free from algorithms and constant advertising.
When Twitter launched in 2006, most people were using it to share status updates in the vein of “Eating a sandwich.” Meanwhile, artists used Tumblr to share their work in an open-ended and stylish blog format, and curators used it to compile their favorite art and memes on the web. It was a simpler time (and now Gen Z is pining for it too).
Today, most artists have to play the social media game, no matter how many times the algorithm or terms of service get changed. Would Yayoi Kusama be the household name she is today if not for her instinctive grasp of Instagram? Would Beeple have made that record $69 million sale if not for posting viral work on socials every day? As the digital art world and social media collide with blockchain technology in the form of NFTs, leveraging social media and cutting through the noise has only gotten more important. But many artists are tired of the status quo.
The Social Media Landscape in 2023
In June 2023, the social media landscape is a chaotic mess. After a series of jarring and sometimes head scratching moves by Elon Musk at Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg saw blood in the water and launched Threads on July 5. It reached over 100 million sign-ups within a week of launch, taking off like a rocket with its Instagram integration and a contingent of Musk haters ready to protest by switching to a different corporate overlord.
Just a few weeks later, it’s a very different story. Threads only has around 13 million daily active users (a 70% drop from its 44 million peak), and those users don’t have a reason to stay engaged, as they only spend an average of 4 minutes a day on the platform. Meanwhile, Twitter retains a core audience of around 200 million daily active users who spend an average of 30 minutes on the platform.
There’s clearly a hunger for something new in social media, so why has Threads dropped like Meta’s stock price in 2022? First off, Threads feels eerily similar to Twitter but lacks a lot of its competitor’s functionality. You still can’t browse your feed in chronological order (it’s coming soon), so the algorithm is bound to show you a lot of unwanted brand and celebrity content. And you can’t search topics (a huge piece of the Twitter experience) or even use the app on desktop.
Then in recent days, Musk followed through on his X obsession by changing the Twitter logo to a minimalistic X, which lines up with his ambitions to rebrand Twitter as a “super app” in the vein of WeChat in China. WeChat is like a Swiss Army knife of apps — you can chat, pay for things, hail a cab, book appointments, and more.
As Twitter/X CEO Linda Yaccarino tweeted, “X is the future state of unlimited interactivity – centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities.” Perhaps the X team can pull off the seemingly impossible and create a new “global town square” that combines social media and fiat/crypto payments in a transparent way that avoids WeChat’s privacy and censorship issues.
Can Crypto Solve This Problem?
Meanwhile in web3 land, the most visible social platform is Lens Protocol, which is still in beta and slowly rolling out access with a waitlist. Lens takes a decentralized approach to social — you own 100% of your data (including your posts, connections, and profile info) and can move it to another platform at any time. Creators can monetize their work with NFTs on other platforms and bring them into their Lens posts, token gate their content, and use the same handle across apps.
In a way, Lens is on a similarly ambitious mission as X, but with the web3 ethos and community at its core. Who knows if they can deliver on these ambitions (and if non-crypto natives will even be interested in their vision), but for now, it’s exciting to see their team putting it into motion.
So in this shifting and unpredictable landscape, where does that leave artists? For now, the promises from X, Meta, and Lens are largely unrealized, while other platforms like Bluesky and Mastodon face similar existential struggles as Threads, without the benefit of Meta’s massive reach.
Where are you supposed to direct your energies when web2 and web3 social are currently “Under Construction”? At the moment, it’s an open-ended question, with plenty of opinions and few answers. Only time will tell. One thing is for sure — artists are craving a new place to connect with their communities in a more direct way, away from the noise and sneaky game-playing that the algorithm requires.
The NFT space deserves something better. Now’s the time to dream big.
When governments talk about regulation, many people in the crypto industry get worried. While I think most of us want to see intelligent and thoughtful laws put into place to make the industry less susceptible to fraud, we also want to know that these laws are being written in good faith. When it comes to crypto — an industry whose intricacies are as exciting to those who understand them as they are enigmatic and contentious to those who don’t — regulation will not be easy.
Just last week, a judge concluded that XRP did not meet all of the criteria to be considered a security, giving the crypto market a much-needed confidence boost. Even so, this ruling does little to clear up the status of other crypto assets (PEPE coin anyone?). And with Alex Mashinsky’s arrest earlier this month, the memory of Celsius’ potentially fraudulent activity and SBF’s incredible flight from justice serve as painful reminders that the crypto industry needs to change.
Because the current state of government moves so slowly, blockchain has escaped any major regulation since Bitcoin was first launched in January of 2009, which has led to major innovations occurring in a relatively small amount of time. However, the lack of regulation has also resulted in major losses, namely widespread theft, scams, and fraud. Not only have businesses and individuals been hurt, but crypto’s bad press might lead to a possible slowing down of crypto adoption as fear, uncertainty, and doubt overshadow all of crypto’s potential.
The Future of Regulation
In general, wherever cryptocurrencies are legal, they are subject to anti-money laundering regulations and taxes. But in light of recent events, many regulators are beginning to take an even more aggressive approach to crypto.
This Monday, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) issued a report sharing its recommendations to provide a more cohesive and consistent regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies worldwide. They want to protect investors and individuals, promote responsible innovation, and perhaps most of all, safeguard the integrity of the financial systems that underpin our society.
In 2022, 3 Arrows Capital went bankrupt after Luna and Terra collapsed, Celsius went bankrupt after a possible pump and dump scheme initiated by rumors that Sam Bankman Fried would be buying out its assets, and the crash of FTX became one of the most eventful scandals in crypto history.
Then in 2023, we witnessed widespread bank failure, especially those associated with the crypto industry. With regulators picking through the rubble under the collapses of Signature, Silvergate, and Silicon Valley Bank, and UBS rescuing Credit Suisse, the ghost of the 2008 Great Financial Crisis is weighing heavily on many industry experts’ minds. While one cannot ascribe cause and effect to the events of 2022 and 2023, it is clear that the financial institutions of the world, both crypto and traditional, are intertwined.
Indeed, the legitimacy of the banking sector—and moreover, the legitimacy of crypto exchanges—is coming under fire, leading many to wonder what steps world governments will take to make the pain go away, both in the short and long term.
The Current Problems in Regulating Cryptocurrencies
Many crypto industry professionals have argued that not all digital assets fall under the definition of a security, and that the SEC should instead write new rules to tackle issues in the crypto sector. The biggest conflicts at present are, firstly, that there is no consensus on what to label these assets, and secondly, how existing regulation for securities, commodities, and property tries to force cryptocurrencies into a narrow definition that does not fully reflect the asset’s complexity.
Kelly LeValley Hunt, founder of Mint Gold Dust and investor in all things web3 since 2014, told me over the phone that tackling cryptocurrency regulation is an insurmountable task that looks at the situation from the wrong angle. “Each currency has its own flavor, so it’s difficult to put them all in the same group,” she said. “The different currencies are going to be used for different things, and they’ll be used differently in different parts of the world. We need to start to adjust to that.”
“We don’t need regulation for crypto, but for the people who handle crypto. The exchanges should be regulated not dissimilar to how we regulate banks.”
Kelly LeValley Hunt
The use cases of cryptocurrency are much more diverse than fiat, or traditional paper currency. Not only can it function as a store of value, a unit of account, or a medium of exchange—though these uses will likely come later as volatility lessens—but it can also represent membership in a group, enact voting rights, or unlock future airdrops of digital assets. And that doesn’t even begin to take into account the differences between fungible assets (like bitcoin and ETH) and non-fungible assets (like NFTs), the latter of which does function, at times, as digital property.
Furthermore, we already have examples of how countries regulate fiat currencies across borders, and that is through the exchanges. “We don’t need regulation for crypto,” LeValley Hunt added, “but for the people who handle crypto. The exchanges should be regulated not dissimilar to how we regulate banks.”
Regulation: Rules and Realities
There are several features of bank regulation that are attractive to the crypto industry, namely, community investment, insuring a certain amount of funds, and other consumer protections. However, some are antithetical to how blockchain works.
Blockchain is a revolutionary technology that has offered us a new way of conducting business and viewing the world. Bitcoin, the first and perhaps most well-known cryptocurrency, was launched right after the Great Financial Crisis, and its pseudonymous founder Satoshi Nakamoto clearly stated in the genesis block that Bitcoin was intended to be in direct opposition with traditional finance.
Not only would it require all transactions to be transparent, accessible, and immutable, it would also allow users to access the network trustlessly, or without disclosing any personal information. For this reason, any attempt to enforce KYC requirements, for example, could in effect stifle the progress of blockchain-based marketplaces, as people who value privacy will likely leave the marketplace entirely.
But another element of compliance would be for crypto exchanges to set up data centers that maintain all of the information of the network. “Right now, when you regulate a bank, the bank has to be up and running, their data center has to be up and running 5 9’s,” LeValley Hunt said. “That means, 99.999% of the time. This is what the regulators dictate in the United States.”
According to the C&C Technology Group, a data center will consume 1,000 kWh per square meter in order to maintain their servers. Multiply that by the area of a single data center, then consider the fact that most banks have at least two “hot,” or physical data centers (a primary and a backup), and one “cold” one on the cloud, and you can imagine the amount of energy needed to power just a single bank or exchange.
Which is not to say that this should not happen. In fact, blockchain technology has become a driving force in the adoption of green energy, as it is often cheaper and thus better for crypto industry players’ bottom line. It is entirely possible that this move could bear fruit for both regulating crypto exchanges and lowering harmful energy consumption.
Moving Crypto, and the World, Forward
Without meaningful and tailored regulation, the crypto industry will continue to be a breeding ground for bad actors, scams, and avoidable financial catastrophes. Privacy, sovereignty, mobility, and decentralization are the foundational tenets of blockchain technology.
Therefore, any actions made in the pursuit of regulating crypto must keep these ideals in mind if they are to succeed, because compromising these ideals could in fact lead to the destruction of the industry itself. It would leave us with a shallow imposter whose characteristics are all too similar to the traditional finance world that blockchain aims to leave behind.
Blockchain is not necessarily a panacea to the problems we are witnessing in the banking sector, but many of its features certainly lend themselves to improving how we secure our assets in a way that has never been seen before. Namely, transparency would allow for an open conversation about what assets exchanges are investing in and what activities they are engaging in.
“In 20 years, the exchanges will be our banks,” LeValley Hunt said. And if that is indeed the way forward, then more exchanges might have to take Coinbase’s lead and bite the bullet now, before it is too late to build the trust and consumer loyalty they need to survive.
In the world of NFTs, almost everything is cross-genre. Some pieces invoke the tension between the physical and the digital. Others combine multiple styles and mediums. Increasingly, more and more artists are using art as a portal, to bring together the visual, musical, literary, performance-based, technological, and beyond.
Artists have used NFTs to break down all kinds of philosophical and financial barriers. The artists in “Portal Realms” show multiple ways of straddling different worlds and disciplines. A coder can indeed take her seat at the artists’ table. And a DJ can build entire realities with the combined power of visual art and music.
The Transformative Nature of Immersive Experience
Iamnubio has felt the electricity of a crowd dancing and vibing in unison. He has created that electricity, using all the tools necessary to drop a participant in the middle of a memorable moment. As a DJ, he has always aimed to connect with the audience on a deeper level.
Working under the pseudonym of Iamnubio has helped him to explore different facets of sound. It has also allowed him to follow the spark of inspiration regardless of the medium. Furthermore, many of his artworks utilize original soundtracks, adding to the sensory experience of the work. “I’m exploring unique aesthetics, textures, and visual narratives,” he told 79Au. “These experiences have informed my music production, allowing me to experiment with different sounds, layering techniques, and musical elements to create a rich and immersive sonic experience.”
Any elongated musical experience aims to tell a story. Whether it be an album or a live set, the artist curates a journey to share with their listeners. But there’s also something to be said about the visual experience of it all: the way the artist performs, the backdrop to the stage, the lights. This is the spatial, multi-sensory approach that Iamnubio brings to his works.
“These experiences have informed my music production, allowing me to experiment with different sounds, layering techniques, and musical elements to create a rich and immersive sonic experience.”
“I believe that music has the power to evoke emotions and enhance the impact of visual art,” he said. “When I add music to artwork, I approach the visual elements with the intention of synchronizing them with the emotional essence of the music. The visuals are crafted to resonate with the mood, rhythm, and energy of the accompanying music, creating a powerful and immersive experience for the viewer.”
Immersion is a prominent theme in Iamnubio’s works. In the piece “Inner Conquering,” we see someone viewing the world through the lens of a headset. The layers of color scheme, facial expressions, and body language hint at the subject’s perception of an alternate reality, one in which they are fully immersed. Though this piece does not feature music, it includes Iamnubio’s iconic dancing skeletons and invokes the energy of music.
For Iamnubio, as both an artist and as a DJ, immersion is the crux of the experience. “The concept of immersion allows individuals to transcend their physical surroundings and delve into alternative realities,” he said. “It opens up a realm of infinite possibilities, where boundaries between the real and the virtual blur, enabling new forms of expression and storytelling.” “Inner Conquering” highlights the power of technology to transport us to new dimensions, to provoke introspection, and to challenge our perceptions.
The (R)evolving World of Computer-Based Art
Trish Gianakis has been exploring the intersection of art and technology since the 1980s. A veteran of merging IRL art installations and emerging technologies, her work interrogates the very nature of our increasingly phygital experience.
Gianakis has created a large scope of works, from 3D sculpture to AR filters to glitch to something like digital watercolor. You can view them in the gallery she has built and curated herself. “I am enjoying using AI, creating worlds in Spatial,” she said. “I enjoy creating in VR with Gravity Sketch and then exporting it to other 3D programs such as Blender or Nomad. Mostly I enjoy exporting my art to AR to share with the world.”
“The abstract and freedom in creating in VR is reflected in this dreamlike space, no walls, or windows, but rather a free floating and playful environment.”
Having worked with AR for so many years, she has witnessed the changes in perception around the technology. However, a lot of people still don’t seem to understand the difference between AR and VR. This is part of why she continues to explore the medium, and to invite people to experience it.
With “Dreamscape,” she created a digital structure that could be experienced on its own or inside of a virtual world. “I wanted to create a space for people to be free and interact with my art,” she said. Using the mirror setting in TiltBrush, she created bug-like creatures that double as the architecture of the space. Depending on the angle you can see the insects, the structure, or both.
“The abstract and freedom in creating in VR is reflected in this dreamlike space, no walls, or windows, but rather a free floating and playful environment,” she said. In AR, the world can be enlarged and you can walk through it, or you can move it around. You can also view “Dreamscape” in Spatial where you can jump around as an avatar.
Gianakis has looked at her practice from many different angles. On one hand, she finds ways to incorporate technology into her physical sculptures. On the other hand, she finds ways to illuminate the physicality of her digital sculptures and AR objects. “AR is still a mystery to most people,” she said. It is a mystery that she does not intend to solve, but to explore.
Art lovers have often revered their favorite works as a portal into the artist’s soul. Artists transform a subject in the act of recreating it. But the viewer also changes as they absorb the artist’s vision. Yet another theme racing through the artworks in “Portal Realms” is the supernatural forces of change.
Anything can be a portal: a memory, a daydream, a movie, a threshold. It can be physical or intangible, real or imaginary. Almost more important than the portal itself is the version of ourselves that meets us on the other side.
Joyce Korotkin Looks Into the Light
Many of Joyce Korotkin’s artworks take root in the in-between places that populate our world. Some of her works live in a moment between the past and the future, a disquieted present. Others look at the world almost through a supernatural lens. “I’ve been fascinated by the lore of crystal balls since I first saw The Wizard of Oz as a young child,” Korotkin told 79 Au. “[Specifically] the scene where Dorothy gazed into the Witch’s ball at a world within the world.”
Many of Korotkin’s earliest memories involve her getting lost in a world of color. As a young girl, she drew a line with chalk along the bricks of her childhood home. “I stared at it as closely as my eyes could get, transfixed, for what seemed like hours,” she added. Then in Kindergarten, she dipped a brush into a pot of deep pink paint. “I couldn’t get enough of staring at it; I wanted to devour it,” she added.
Ever since, she has been fascinated by the power of the gaze. Or rather, how one can be transported into an alternate universe by the act of gazing.
In her work “The Occurrence: The Child #1,” she shows a child looking over a scene of destruction. Here, she taps into another recurring theme of her work, “that out of the blue of an otherwise perfectly ordinary day, something happens that transforms the world forever.”
“Digital art and the emergence of NFTs felt like the same quantum leap from the past into something completely new and disconnected. Here was an intangible art comprised of nothing but light.”
Even the evolution of Korotkin’s project shows the ways in which technology can change the world in an instant. The child featured in the artwork in the “Portal Realms” exhibition is the protagonist of “The Occurrence” series on Mint Gold Dust. The artwork was created using AI, procreate and animation. However, Korotkin created the other works in the series before she ever heard of AI art tools. “Suddenly, it’s here, and everything has changed.”
The overnight success of AI feels similar to the recent NFT bull market, though on a smaller scale. Each technology helped us recognize the hurrying pace of the future. “Digital art and the emergence of NFTs felt like the same quantum leap from the past into something completely new and disconnected,” Korotkin said. “Here was an intangible art comprised of nothing but light.”
“Light has always been the province of painters,” she pointed out. It is one of the main things everyone writes about when discussing a specific work. “Vermeer’s Light, Rembrandt’s light, Caravaggio’s light, Impressionist light. And here was a new art, distilled to art’s essence: Light itself.”
Matt Menendez Explores Interstitial Space
Menendez’s piece “Beyond the Threshold: The Portal” features a figure edging closer to a gateway. The terrain flashes with seas of blue and white light. This work, like many others by Menendez, leans into themes of fantasy and science fiction. The ambiguity around the setting as well as the subject allow for the viewer to fill in the details.
“What excites me the most is that [fantasy and sci-fi] allow for unlimited possibilities of imagination and invention,” Menendez told 79 Au. “It’s their sense of wonder and escapism that always draws me in.”
Indeed, the portal taps into both the escapist nature of fiction and the shift from one reality to the next. Like in life, the future that will greet the subject in the artwork is still unknown. And it is that very quality of uncertainty that makes gazing into the flashing blue so exciting.
Menendez has a long career in architecture and design, which one can see readily in his work in “Portal Realms.” With an acute awareness of space, Menendez aimed to explore the idea of the in between. “Interstitial space is a common conversation in the architectural world,” he said. “But in the context of the metaverse it holds a different meaning.”
When we think of portals in metaverse spaces, we typically think of doorways to different worlds or spaces within a world. “You don’t really get to experience them,” he said. “They are more just a ‘quick’ teleportation to a different space.” It was this area of intrigue that inspired “Beyond the Threshold: The Portal.” What might the inner workings of a portal in virtual space look like if we took the time to look?
“Interstitial space is a common conversation in the architectural world. But in the context of the metaverse it holds a different meaning.”
“I wanted to explore this interstitial space as an atmospheric experience that spans x amount of time rather than a quick transition,” he said. “The notion that one can experience the space from one side of the portal to the other is fascinating to me, and I would hope for others too,” he added.
A Virtual Butterfly Effect
Both artists we spoke to this week were fascinated by the unlimited possibilities that exist in making even a single piece of art. When using AI art tools, word choice alters the output. When choosing colors, even a slight shift of shade could change the mood.
“What I use as a prompt for portals in Midjourney isn’t the same as, say, Kaiber, which is what I used to create ‘Beyond the Threshold,’” Menendez said. “I like to think of these different prompt syntaxes of language and how we look at different architectural styles.”
And for Korotkin, her love of color spills over into a perfectionist’s dilemma. “Just about every digital piece I make has several iterations, mostly based on different colors,” she said. “And sometimes I just mint them all and let collectors decide for themselves. ‘The Secret Life of Flowers’ is one such series.”
No matter the medium or style, each choice the artist makes affects the next. And it is in these strange and unsettling moments between start and finish where art truly thrives.