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.