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.