On September 22, 2022, the first day of Fall, I began an experimental project utilizing the newly released ARC19 metadata standard. ARC19 uses a clever placeholder code where the URL link for an NFT image usually goes to allow the creator to change the image at will, and indefinitely using notes in the Reserve Address. Although this technology was intended for NFTs used in situations such as game avatars where rewards may unlock certain cosmetic features, I have decided to use it to document the creation of a photographic illustration from start to finish.
The first mint of this project was a simple blank canvas, where all photographic illustrations start. A blank canvas is waiting to be filled, and this version of the NFT didn’t even last for 24-hours of the project before I updated the State 2 image.
The project began on the first day of fall, September 22, and will be completed on December 19, 2022. Currently, I am in the final few days of this project, the composite has been finalized and printed for exhibition, and all that remains are the release of the final two states; one documenting the physical print, and the other a signed and dated final digital version. I will post a follow up blog with reflections on this project soon after the final day of the project, this Monday. If you are interested in seeing this artwork on the blockchain, use the NFTx link provided.
From Blank Canvas to Final Draft
Statement: This is the final version of “Dynamic Block: Fall 2022”, no future ARC19 updates will be made to this project. The final composite is an abstract self-portrait, inspired by dreams and emotional reactions to certain locations I frequent, and driven by a desire to create a final work with multiple layers and ample opportunities to discover something new even after several viewings. It is divided into two distinct worlds that are ever merging and feeding one another; the world of order and algorithms (the one we inhabit), and the world of imagination and creativity. Without one there can not be the other, much like my own creative process, the world is a balance between the real and what we can imagine into existence in that reality. In this composite, I am peering into the world of imagination and creativity searching for inspiration, and discovering it in droves everywhere I look.
The end of another long academic year is rapidly(and mercifully) approaching, and with it comes the start of my brief sabbatical from teaching to focus on physical activity and my creative urges. I plan to continue exploring two methods of creation; digital illustrations and one-of-a-kind analog objects. Additionally, I plan to re-assess my digital footprint to better utilize my time and energy when publicly sharing ideas and artwork, and to avoid time wasting app scrolling that could be better used for rest, physical activity, or creation. Stay tuned for updates in 2023 of new works in progress, in the meantime I hope you enjoy my most recent experiment posted in this blog, a combo print made using 19th century analog processes – cyanotype and van dyke, one image created camera-less using leaves found in my yard, and one made from a digital photograph printed onto a transparency. Printed Size: ~6×9-inches. Substrate: Rives BFK.
“The crows circled and menaced us, or did they? Over the horizon, I think I saw the Royal Crows controlling their subjects. ‘Caw! Caw! Caw!’ they shrieked as if generated from the pits of hell. Hunkered in our shelter we narrowly escaped, or was it an uneventful day? Memories filtered through an algorithm can be deceiving after all.”
This composite artwork that I refer to as a photographic illustration is the first finished artwork I made utilizing AI for both ideation as well as some of the elements in the final artwork combined with my photography. As I continue to explore this emerging technology that is both muse and an existential threat, I am looking for ways to apply what it is capable of while still maintaining control of my artworks trajectory and content. The result is a ballet between myself and machine, choreographed by intuition, with a constantly evolving outcome.
Pictured on the right are examples of DALL-E crow generations that were used in this artwork.
Before photography was embraced as an art form its primary role was one of documentation and observation. Unlike painters, who witness the world in real-time, the camera has the unique ability to freeze motion. Many photographers explored this attribute by studying the motion of humans and animals, and occasionally the two combined. Eadweard Muybridge was most well know for these efforts, documenting hundreds of scenarios, starting with the documentation of a horse running (to prove a bar bet). Other practitioners of that era who also did motion studies included Thomas Eakins, Etienne Jules Marey, and Ottomar Anschutz. It’s argued that these motion studies inspired early exploration in cubism by the artists Edgar Degas and Marcel Duchamp. In my study, I am using the Midjourney AI to reinterpret that same history, specifically, how would robots have appeared in these same studies if they had existed then? Using a machine to visualize how another machine would fit into a history that it knows it doesn’t belong in.
Note: I was unable to explore how AI would interpret Thomas Eakins due to nudity filters on Midjourney, unlike the other three artists I mention above, Eakins only did nude studies of humans.
This is a reinterpretation of history using MidJourney AI. In this alternate reality, Henry Fox Talbot did not invent the Calotype process, ushering in the era of photographic prints on paper, but rather was an early space explorer and the first person to step foot on the Moon in 1840. This event was followed by one of the most dangerous moments in human history, the discovery of an aggressive species of aliens with technology far more advanced than our own. Having angered the aliens with his presence on the Moon they responded with a furious attack on Lacock Abbey. Henry Fox Talbot, desperate for the fued to be contained, agreed to peace terms with the aliens that required space travel technology to be suppressed for a minimum of 100-years. The citizens of London responded by throwing a ticker tape parade in his honor. All of this was documented by an unknown photographer by the name of Marcus Jermain and remained undiscovered until recently.