John F. Simon, Jr. Mondrian Cube 1 @ foundation.app/@jfsjr
Entrepreneurs are making possible the evolution of Web3, a new version of the web made up of blockchain-based platforms and services fueled by cryptocurrencies. They are booming in popularity (although with downsides) and expanding the possibilities for a multitude of uses across all sectors of society. Even in this early stage of development, NFTs, the Metaverse and other Web3 technologies, are proving their potential for the arts and social and environmental causes to expand creativity, visibility and support.
Artists mark the history of their time and imagine what is to come, which is evident in both the popular imagery and fine art NFTs that are being sold today. As media theorist Marshall McLuhan wrote in Understanding Media, 1964, quoting poet Ezra Pound, artists “anticipate future social and technological developments by a generation and more."(1) Below are internationally known digital artists and early pioneers who had anticipated today's developments, all of whom continue to look further into the future, and have been presented by Streaming Museum in a range of programs.
NFT art—a sales mechanism or a medium? writes Christiane Paul, art historian and adjunct curator at the Whitney Museum in an article for The Art Newspaper. "The NFT gold rush has been investment-driven, with the art world following the economy rather than the other way around. To avoid the blockchain becoming digital art’s metaphorical ball and chain, the art world must acknowledge the art form’s rich history and its potential for creatively exploring the crypto space and decentralised distribution."
On the business side and future of Web3, Does 2022 = 2000? an article by Shelly Palmer, professor, author and top voice in technology, points out that "In 2000 almost $8 trillion of wealth vaporized when the dot-com bubble burst and fortunes from financially engineered ‘get rich quick” valuations were lost. But the value of the Internet itself survived and today everyone and everything is connected to it. The world cannot function without it. Similarly, the vast majority of the 19,000+ cryptocurrencies and blockchain-based companies are going to fail, but those who stay the course - the slow and steady - and understand the capabilities of these Web3 behavior-changing technologies, will remain for the long term." Palmer gives useful information on the decentralized ecosystem in Crypto & Web 3 Resources.
The 'aha' moment in 2004 for the concept of Streaming Museum resulted in its launch in 2008 at the cusp of a new wave of expansion of the Internet, mobile and screen culture. The initial goal was to use technology to showcase the interconnectedness of all cultures by circulating exhibitions of the arts and visionary ideas on screens in public spaces on 7 continents and its website, which reached millions in world cities to remote locations. Over the years Streaming Museum zoomed its focus into creating a range of programs, collaborations and publications on the arts and world affairs. Today, we're exploring how Web3 offers a new wave of opportunities for the arts -- the ultimate universal communicator of complex and visionary ideas.
The platforms evolving in Web3 propel popular culture, fine arts and social causes
In April 2021, the U.K.-based duo, Isobel Robson and Lenna Onto, featured in Forbes' 30 under 30 Europe 2022, brought their stop motion, clay animation to the Cardano blockchain—they love the ethos, sustainability element, and community of Cardano. Last fall, they launched their flagship NFT project Clay Nation, made up of 10,000 algorithmically-generated, clay-esque characters. They sold all 10,000 NFTs in just a few hours. Since then, they’ve partnered with the American band Good Charlotte, as well as Snoop Dogg, his son Champ and their team to build out Clay Nation into a virtual festival environment.
A partial map of Clay Nation's Metaverse, called Clayverse, that runs on the Cardano blockchain.
Marketing techniques are propelling the success of NFT characters and Metaverse projects by incorporating the presence of high profile personalities and giving NFT owners commercial rights to use the NFT characters in films, products and events. Owners of NFTs and Metaverse properties have special advantages such as ‘club’ and community participation status. Investing in Metaverse properties offers buyers the ability to use their 'real estate' for income producing purposes such as rentals, private or public events, and connecting virtual and real world events. High visibility profitable NFTs are proving to be fueling the appeal and marketing reach, such as Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks, and artists such as Beeple, whose NFT was the first sold by Christie's, and Pak, as Sotheby's first.
These evolving 'tools' can be used for the arts and for social and environmental causes to expand their visibility, and for exhibitions, events, art and ticket sales, and cross-reality experiences that take place in virtual and physical locations. Artists and musicians are pushing the potential of these tools to create generative and interactive work and to generate income as an alternative to grant writing. There are many examples of direct support for social causes as Forbes Magazine describes in Ukraine Demonstrates That Cryptocurrency Is A Potent Tool For Marshaling Grassroots Support, In the realm of climate change activism, the non-profit Art to Acres creates large-scale land conservation for the habitat of all species and is funded by art sales including NFTs, individuals, galleries, institutions and museums.
As Streaming Museum sees it, the popular culture and fine art worlds can co-exist in an NFT collection, and in the same Metaverse--just as they do in the real world.
Tobin Jones, an award-winning photographer based in Nairobi and London, has created the SuperGrannies of Korogocho collection of 12 NFTs. Sales will contribute to supporting their cause.
In the Nairobi slum of Korogocho, there exists a group of grandmothers skilled in the ancient art of Kung Fu. This secretive society of women, "Shoso Jikinge” or Swahili for "Grandmother, Protect Yourself!", was created by its members to help defend against gangs who prey on the older women within the slum at night. Learning how to punch, kick, stab, and scream the women have now turned themselves into a formidable foe few want to challenge.
SuperGrannies of Korogocho are being sold as a set of trading cards each minted as its own NFT and each depicting a separate member of the Shoso Jikinge self defense society. Each card connects to the original black and white film photograph taken by the iconic Rolleiflex camera, and colorized manually to create the image seen on the card. “By creating NFTs out of my photographs I’m transcending several eras of photography--the analog era of film, the digital era of computers, and what I see as the future era of photography and Web3.” Collectors also receive the trading card and an archive quality print. NFT sales benefit the Shoso Jikinge society of women. tobinjonesphotography.com.
Collect SuperGrannies of Korogocho at OpenSea
In a Dangerous Slum, She's Empowering 'Grandmothers' to Fight Back
Beatrice Nyariara lives in Korogocho, one of Nairobi’s most dangerous slums. She is helping women feel empowered to take back their community.
The NFTs below are created by digital artists who are influential, driving forces in the medium. Some have worked with digital media since the 1980s and 1990s before the market could support their work. They have, along with Tobin Jones, been featured by Streaming Museum in one or more programs including screens in public spaces, exhibitions in museums, cultural and commercial venues, streamingmuseum.org, and in publications such as Centerpoint Now, marking the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
Mark Amerika, a digital-art pioneer, predicted blockchain and crypto's potential 22 years ago. On January 1, 2000, the Wall Street Journal published Soft Money, a story about digital artist and author Mark Amerika's prediction that private Internet 'currencies' and other increasingly abstract forms of exchange may replace government notes. "Digicash paracurrencies" is how Amerika dubbed these emerging coins of the virtual realm. Companies and future celebrities could become the basis for tradable computerized value units backed by their fame and fortune -- like General Electric dollars or Michael Jordan dollars or Picasso dollars. "There are going to be all forms of currencies that coexist with each other, Mr. Amerika says."
Amerika, who was part of the utopian 1990s net art scene, writes in the article Mark Amerika 1990’s nettime and Today’s nfttime for 1st Dibs, that “Blockchain-based art doesn't materialize in an art historical vacuum.”
Mark Amerika is an American artist, theorist, novelist and professor of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado. A pioneer of networked literature he explores the possibilities of collaborating with artificial intelligence in two new books, one fiction and one non-fiction (Outland). Amerika's work has been exhibited at major national and international venues including the Whitney Biennial of American Art, the Denver Art Museum, the ICA in London and the National Museum of Contemporary Art (Athens, Greece). Read about his work, NFTs, and most recent book, My Life as an Artificial Creative Intelligence - a series of intellectual provocations that investigate the creative process across the human-nonhuman spectrum, at markamerika.com
Mark Amerika, Philter, handmade auto-hallucination for the crypto cognoscenti.
Collect at objkt
Mark Amerika, Hypertextual Consciousness [Beta-Version], 1995
website, multiple digital files. Amerika's first major work of net art, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors. htc was eventually enfolded into Grammatron, a seminal work of net art included in the Whitney Biennial of American Art. Available at PostmastersBLOCKCHAIN.
Carla Gannis is an American transmedia artist who produces works that consider the uncanny complications between grounded and virtual reality, nature and artifice, science and science fiction in contemporary culture. Fascinated by digital semiotics, Gannis takes a horror vacui approach to her artistic practice, culling inspiration from networked communication, art and feminist histories, emerging technologies and speculative design.
Gannis’s work has appeared in exhibitions, screenings and internet projects across the globe. Recent projects include Portraits in Landscape, Midnight Moment, Times Square Arts, NY and Sunrise/Sunset, Whitney Museum of American Art, Artport. Gannis is a regular lecturer on digital art and extended reality and has been featured in publications, Wired, FastCo, Hyperallergic, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, El PaÍs and The LA Times, among others. She is Industry Professor at New York University, Integrated Design and Media Program, Department of Technology, Culture and Society, Tandon School of Engineering. carlagannis.com.
Carla Gannis, Flight, from the Yonder series. MP4 Digital Video + Archival Digital C-Print. Edition 1/1. Her NFT Yonder series addresses the entangled crises of our contemporary tangible and virtual selves. Gannis represents her thoughts on selfhood as it is expressed within the radical phenomenology provided by the advent of mixed reality. Read more about this work and place a bid at 1st Dibs.
Refik Anadol is a Turkish-American new media artist and designer, director, and pioneer in the aesthetics of machine intelligence. Refik Anadol Studio and RAS LAB are centered around discovering and developing trailblazing approaches to data narratives and artificial intelligence. Anadol’s body of work addresses the challenges, and the possibilities, that ubiquitous computing has imposed on humanity, and what it means to be a human in the age of AI. He explores how the perception and experience of time and space are radically changing now that machines dominate our everyday lives. Anadol is intrigued by the ways in which the digital age and machine intelligence allow for a new aesthetic technique to create enriched immersive environments that offer a dynamic perception of space.
Refik Anadol’s global projects have received a number of awards and prizes. His site-specific audio/visual performances have been featured at iconic landmarks, museums and festivals worldwide. A pioneer in his field, and the first to use artificial intelligence in a public immersive artwork, Anadol has partnered with teams at Microsoft, Google, Nvidia, Intel, IBM, Panasonic, JPL/NASA, Siemens, Epson, MIT, Harvard, UCLA, Stanford University, and UCSF, to apply the latest, cutting-edge science, research and technologies to his body of work. More details in Anadol's biography. refikanadol.com View the full collection of Anadol's NFTs
Refik Anadol, Unsupervised — Data Universe — MoMA is a global AI data painting that simulates a latent walk among the museum’s digitized collection.
Read more and collect at Feral File.
A discussion with Refik Anadol, MoMA curators. Paola Antonelli and Michelle Kuo and Casey Reas, the artist-founder of Feral File. Watch it here.
Refik Anadol, Machine Hallucinations: Nature Dreams - Last Memory. Created to support Open Earth. Commemorates the beauty of this land we share, and a future left only with the memories of Nature.
The machine learned 46,474,696 million images of nature. Anadol used gan algorithms developed by artificial intelligence to shape this dataset.
John F. Simon, Jr, an American artist who is one of the best-known technology artists and innovator in software art since the 1990s, says that digital art’s scant early market directly impacted his aesthetic. “To generate income, my work got more and more sculptural because that was the side that aligned best with the art world,” he says, referring to how his “art appliances” — sculptural wall hangings with LCD screens — eventually became sculptural wall objects without screens.
Simon remade his early sculpture Complex City, 2000, as HD Traffic for Streaming Museum in 2010 which toured the work for several years in public spaces on 7 continents, museums, and the Digital Art@Google exhibition series at Google's NY headquarters. The videos — a series of colored squares flowing over a grid — came from a software program and draws inspiration from the square patterns in Piet Mondrian’s painting Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942–43). Simon's art is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The Guggenheim Museum. numeral.com.
John F. Simon, Jr., Green Broadway
Simon developed this NFT from his early sculpture Complex City, 2000, which he remade as HD Traffic for the Streaming Museum in 2010. He drew inspiration from the square patterns in Piet Mondrian’s painting Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942–43). Available at 1stDibs. Blue Diagonal Traffic is also available at 1stDibs.
John F. Simon, Jr., Every Icon
A re-imagining of Every Icon, John F. Simon Jr.'s seminal web-based software art work first released in 1997. Read Simon's artist statement, Every Icon's history, and commentary by Mark Amerika.
Collection available at OpenSea.
Sophie Kahn is a British-Australian digital artist and sculptor living in New York. She uses a 3D laser scanner to create sculptures, prints, video and VR/AR artworks. Her work addresses technology’s failure to capture the unstable human body. and investigates the complexity and the poetics of capturing the female-identified body in the digital age. In all her works, the human body is de-materialized, separated from the physical, and then re-materialized into a vastly altered form. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is held in public and private collections in the United States and internationally. Read more details in Kahn's biography, and view her artworks at sophiekahn.net
In a browser, the artwork Spectrality below, can be viewed in 360 degrees and also in augmented reality within the viewer's own space. Either way, it is best seen in a dark room, at night, when it glows softly. Her figures are suspended in a sort of digital purgatory, caught between life (the physical world) and death (the internet).
Sophie Kahn, Triple Portrait of E: RGB, dv19, 2021. GLB model from 3D laser scan, with photographic textures. Details, view in 3D, and acquire at 1stDibs
Sophie Kahn, Spectrality (from The Divers, IX). 3D model. Dimensions variable. Digital sculpture with AR GLB, USDZ, TXT Web browser, iOS, Android, Linux, Windows, Mac. Edition of 200, 1AP Details, view in 3D, and acquire at Feral File.
Eduardo Kac is an internationally recognized groundbreaking American multi-disciplinary artist born in Brazil, whose artworks span a wide range of practices including early digital and online work, poetry, performance art, holography, telepresence, telerobotics, telematic art, transgenic art, drawing, printmaking, photography, fax, photocopying, video, fractals, artist books, interactive art, virtual reality, networks, robotics, satellites. His practice incorporates Morse code and DNA extraction, RFID implants, biotechnology, politics and aesthetics.
In the early 1980s, Kac created digital, holographic, and online works that predated the global culture we live in today, composed of information subject to change and constant flux. In 1997 the artist coined the term "Bio Art", starting the development of this new art form with works such as his transgenic rabbit GFP Bunny (2000) and Natural History of Enigma (2009), which won him the Golden Nica, the most prestigious award in the field of media art. GFP Bunny has become a global phenomenon, having been appropriated by major popular culture franchises such as Sherlock, Big Bang Theory, and The Simpsons, and by writers such as Margaret Atwood and Michael Crichton. In 2017 Kac created Inner Telescope, a work conceived and carried out in outer space with the cooperation of French astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
Kac's works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art-MoMA, in New York; Tate Modern, London; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Les Abattoirs, Musée - Frac Occitanie Toulouse, France; Museum of Modern Art in Valencia-IVAM, Spain; ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany; and Museum of Contemporary Art of São Paulo, among others. ekac.com