In the end of 2020, I joined the cryptoart scene with a project linking the Flemish Renaissance & today's Digital Renaissance. I dived head-on in the rabbit hole of blockchains & crypto culture, and never came back.
The amount of knowledge, fractals of systems, interactions, ethical, philosophical and cultural depths in the general movement was so amazing I knew I would have to address shades of it through my work.
Welcome to the loose art series of what I came to call Blockchain Mythology, addressing the crypto zeitgeist, and more generally digital life.

       La Création de l'Algo reframes the religious content of Michelangelo's work for the Digital Renaissance by addressing the creation of algorithms and AI by humans, in a piece where everything from the visuals to the music was done as a collaboration between a human and algorithms.
     Here, a bold human creator evokes control and confidence over the algos (the tattoo says “my keys my choice” alluding to the self-sovereignty offered by self-custodial wallets on a blockchain, and the nipple censorship bandages saying “oh hai Suckerberg”, mocking Zuckerberg’s Meta obsession with censoring nipples through a meme from the disastrous movie “The Room”). Yet, her VR helmet brand is ReV (“rêve” means “dream” in French). Is it because of the many parallels to be drawn between human dreams and image generation through machine learning, the likeness of experiencing dreaming and virtual reality, or because this control over the AIs are just a dream?
     On the other side, obviously keeping the drapes in the shape of a brain as in Michelangelo’s original piece, stands the artificial mind. It visually features a lot of philosophical data about itself and its relationship to its creators - us. Tweets about the complex relationship of humans with algorithms on social media, poetic visualisation done by an AI of questions such as how does “the liberating power and magic feeling of new forms of creation with the help of technology” look? Neural networks? Blockchains? Algorithms?
     The binary chain linking the hands of both creator and creature says “slave / master”, the literal technical terms used in computer science used to precise which device sends data and commands, or receive data and execute.
     Then, getting deeper in this relationship, we zoom in, and access the AI’s reimagination of the scene, taking the creator’s chair, and imagining it’s creating humans. After all, it does rewire our brains, namely through social media and apps playing with dopamine cycles, among others. For a moment, it breaks the yin yang-esque balance of the human-made art sitting on algo-made art and facing algo-made art sitting on human-made art. For 3 seconds, it’s all algo face to face with all human.
     Translating the binary conundrum to sound, the melody is made with the most digital sounds and composed by a human, and the beat is composed by an AI using human sounds.
Who creates what? Who creates who? Where does this go?

"What Is Art?", 2022

Is AI-generated art, art?
Can a simple pixel be art?
Can a shapeless concept be art?
Can a single colour be art?
What is the relationship between art, ownership and copyright?
Is a remake, art?
What is art without an artist?
Are memes art?
Are rights to the art, part of the art?
What is the line between a piece of art and a collectible?
Is destroying culture art?
Can found objects be art?
Is code art?
Is this art?

        My first interactive piece focuses on the questions on the controversial nature of art in the age of digital and crypto art, through some pieces destined to scratch an itch. You can play with it here, and see the secondary market here.
Some hands are made of diamonds,
and some hands create diamonds.

     The Diamond Artist seen above, is a visualisation of the cryptoartist creating works that even the most investor-minded collectors will not sell no matter the price, having what the crypto lingo deems as "diamond hands". If some collectors have diamond hands, then the creators of the Digital Renaissance can surely be seen as imagination-powered diamond factories.
It is also a literally iconic portrait and celebration of the artist, or creator, within the crypto zeitgeist.
     Async Art is a platform and cryptoart gallery like no other: they empower artists with no-code solutions to make programmable/asynchronous/interactive art pieces easily. They have been the crucible of many genre-defining works and new ways of making art and music, the most iconic being the first Async piece, a collaborative classic entitled "The Last Supper".
     The original tool allows your work to be separated into layers, each having several variants the collector can choose from, all choices then reflecting in the Master - the sum of all layers, or final piece. An interesting point is that each layer and the Master can belong to different collectors, who would then have to collaborate if they want the Master to have a specific combination.
     "Cryptoforce" is one of my first pieces, reflecting on the first cryptoart era that landed when blockchains were almost exclusively used for money matters, and in which putting cryptocurrency logos was not yet tacky, but celebrating the foundational and pioneering heroes coins were, going against severe crashes, bans, governmental and finance/banking pressure. Here, the variants come in 3 flavours: Bitcoin, the original revolution and pillar of a whole new ethos, Ethereum, the first Turing-complete blockchain that made blockchains evolve beyond money and became the proper cradle of cryptoart and NFTs, and the tongue-in-cheek hate pet Ripple, a blockchain that became a joke subject, rife with controversy.
     The mood of the piece evokes something else: the woman, changing skin colour depending on the variant, is here to remind us blockchains are (should be?) for everyone, the hip side of it shows the revenge of the tech nerds and introvert artists now being the cool cats, and the title is an echo to "force tranquille" (quiet strength), the strength, patience and laid-back approach required to navigate crypto and not losing sanity.
     "0xdEaD" (full title above) and "The X-Device" are two collaborative works I made in the same storytelling wave, addressing the most fascinating element a blockchain mythology can have: the Burn Address. On Ethereum, there are several dead-end wallets known as burn addresses, places on the blockchain where you send ("burn") fungible and non-fungible tokens alike to die, as no one can retrieve anything from them. 0x0[...]000 is the Null Address, serving both as a burn adress and the ex nihilo point from which all Ethereum entities are born. If the Null Address is a white hole, 0x000[...]dEaD AKA the Burn Address is a supermassive black hole - you can see everything that's inside like looking at the event horizon (billions and billions of dollars in coins, art pieces forever locked away, stillborn programs, lost entities, ruins of failed transactions) - yet you can never touch them. And like a black hole, nothing can get out of it.
     Or can it? The first bridge between the Burn Address and us Etherean mortals is the work above, made with GŁOWA. At first, I created a yet-to-be populated City Of The Etherean dEaD you can see below, made of unstable elements, and sent it to the Burn Address after minting it, as a foundation on which to build. It was never meant to be owned - just burnt. The final work above was minted twice to be both outside and inside the Burn Address, thus linking both sides of Ethereum through art and storytelling. I composed the arpeggio with notes from Beethoven's 7th symphony to give it a truly epic vibe wrapped in a short, somehow distant space. GŁOWA took on to show us via the eyes & the hand, never able to touch anything from the ultimate dead end, and all that's inside the keyhole-shaped 0xdEaD is made from actual pieces you can find there, including a character from Atlaude aptly named "the Burnt", and what will be useful for the second episode, the X-Device. Full story and details here.
     The X-Device you can see below was the answer to "Can we ever interact with what's inside the Burn Address? Inside the black hole?" This is something I wanted to do, but not being a coder - and doubting coders could even do something - I scratched my head for a while, trying to find a way in (and out).
     I eventually had that "Eureka!" moment: do you remember Async Art, which I mentioned above? A simple solution could be provided by their mechanics, not even requiring me to find a code wizard. I first needed to acknowledge a simple truth: NFTs sent to the Burn Address are not really dead, just inaccessible. What happens when you send the Master (final rendered piece) to the Burn Address, but keep layers that define it for collectors? The layers still change the result of the Master inside the black hole, while staying in our Ethereans' hands. A two-way communication was found! The icing on the cake was Async Art agreeing to override hiding burnt NFTs for the X-Device, so it can still be enjoyed there.
     I made the Device with my 0xdEaD artist crew GŁOWA & Atlaude, each giving their flavour to it. Atlaude also made a piece where the Burnt, tries to escape the Burn Addres with the help of the X-Device he found in the City Of The Etherean dEaD.
     Full circle. Unless...
You're carving a shadow, anon.
You're shaping a story with the finds
of your diamond nose.

     This piece is another literal icon of the blockchain mythology, and an answer to the Diamond Artist: the mythical figure known as the anon collector. As one can imagine, wallets on blockchains being anonymous by default, there are a few collectors out there that never reveal anything from them, not even going pseudonymous, and the only thing their wallet can tell is what they have collected. Their aesthetic and artistic taste then becomes the sole glimpse we can ever have of them, the nose symbolising the flair and taste, the eyes the vision behind their collection, and their hollow, shadow puppet nature the visual metapher to express the mystery they present. The ruff collar is of course a nod to the old Renaissance, and a link to today's Digital Renaissance.

It is currently being reworked as an interactive piece in a large collaboration with artists and collectors.

The Anon Collector on Time Square

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