Marjan Moghaddam: The Early Pioneer of Digital Art

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Written by Universe Contemporary with quotes and images provided by Marjan Moghaddam

‘Taking the Knee’ In solidarity with GAN-generated Paintings at Art Basel 2020

By Marjan Moghaddam

Media: 39 Second 1080 HD 3d CG Animation of Chronometric Sculpture, GAN generated artwork, Human Generator meshes, Stereo Music and Sound Design 

The “Digital Hijacker” (Vogue, Love Magazine) has been radicalizing curation and democratizing the exhibition space with her #arthacks since 2016, like a Banksy of the Internet with a socially and politically engaged dialog. For her first drop on SuperRare, she is offering her most recent #arthack of Art Basel, Basel 2020, “Taking the Knee in Solidarity”, which was posted to social media during the art fair in June. Stylized with her GAN paintings on the walls, this monumental viral art piece is now a unique digital NFT asset available as a 1/1 on SuperRare.

Taking the Knee In Solidarity with GAN Paintings
Edition 1 of 1

For SuperRare, the artist has recreated the #arthack with her own signature glitch animated figures (Chronometric Sculpture), and GAN generated paintings. She has also replaced the Art Basel Web page she hacked with all GAN generated artwork that loosely references the original. “I did the piece in solidarity with #BLM, and inspired by the global protests in support that were happening at the time, it was a beautiful moment when people of every race and nationality united behind this important cause”, the artist explains. She created figures of different races and artistic styles taking the knee in solidarity, using her signature original and unique way of figuration and animation.  The artist also created 3 GAN paintings, and a collage with one GAN generated face, and 3 GAN generated paintings for the art fair page at the end (all GANs are registered to the artist). The sound design is also by the artist.

“These figures remind us that every aspect of our experience is now glitched.”
Place your bid on ‘Taking the Knee’

Marjan Moghaddam is an award-winning animator and pioneering digital artist known for her unique style and artistic language. Her work has been exhibited by internationally renowned galleries and institutions including critically acclaimed exhibitions at the New York Armory Show, Art Basel Miami, and Siggraph Computer Animation Festival. She recently topped the Forbes best in AR list for her Mixed Reality #Arthacks. In 2018 #GlitchGoddess went viral with over 5 million views on Facebook alone. In total Glitch Goddess has amassed over 18 million views world wide!  

In her Art Hack series Moghaddam inserts Glitch Goddess and other #Digitalbodies in leading art fairs like Art Basel and major institutions like the Whitney as a form of radicalizing curation and democratising the exhibition space, while expanding digital and Net art possibilities. Using internet memes, she creates these hacks during the art fairs and posts while they are happening. Troubling the issues of visibility and invisibility for women and other groups particularly in the art world has become her calling card. Her sophisticated narratives and visual language has garnered the attention and respect that makes her a favorite among blue chip digital art collectors. 

#GlitchGoddess of Art basel Miami with Picasso and Wood. #Art Basel Miami 2018 #arthack
Installation view #GlitchGoddess of Art Basel Miami 695, in Red Wireframe, Archival Digital painting on aluminum, Chronometric Sculpture in Augmented Reality, 2019, in Exhibition Re-Engineering Humanity at 836M 

She continues to make strides ahead with her Art Hacks in redefining form for the 21st century with a highly relevant  and compelling socially and politically engaged dialog. “The art world has lost some of its historic introspection and self-critical dialogue. It seems stuck in a loop, reiterating the 20th century”, the artist explains. In numerous public talks and interviews with art magazines and the press, she has advocated a mandate for digital artists to usher in a 21st century Renaissance and an Enlightenment 2.0 in response to the exigencies of our time. “This is where the digital and the Net can intervene to infuse art and culture with a new spirit, and that is what I’m trying to do”, she concludes. 

Here Marjan is being interviewed by the owner of the legendary Pyramid Club in New York City where she held an artist residency and was a permanent fixture on the 80s digital art scene, and where she also exhibited her first computer animation, created on a Commodore 64 in 1984.  

“The late Dr Baback Moghaddam is a constant source of inspiration,” says Marjan. Above is a picture of her brother Baback from a 1990s Issue of Newsweek Magazine featuring a story on Nicholas Negronponte’s MIT Media Lab.  Baback was one of the research stars there. He’s the third one from the right with a black leather jacket wearing an early HMD VR headset.

Baback pioneered many of the techniques in machine Learning, and computer vision used in today’s facial recognition software. His early automatic visual recognition system won the 1996 DARPA “FERET” Face Recognition Challenge, and his Phd dissertation on Facial Recognition at MIT has one of the highest number of citations in the field. He then went to publish and develop a lot more in machine learning, computer vision and facial recognition first as a senior scientist at Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab in Cambridge, and then as a principal Scientist at NASA/JPL.

Sadly he passed away in 2012. Before his death he had the opportunity to work in an area of his true passion, Cosmology. He loved using machine vision techniques for space imaging, and developed the machine vision for Mars Explorer II. In his short life he managed to have 70 publications and received 12 patents in the areas of computer vision, statistical modeling, pattern recognition and machine learning.

I owe much of my art practice to Baback, we both got into computers early on when we were very young, and his encouragement and inspiration were the foundations for my art practice, and his brilliance, genius, and true iconoclasm continues to inspire me every day.  Baback also played guitar in hardcore experimental punk bands back in 1981. He was a true Badass.

Marjan was instrumental in building the infrastructure that paved the way for many digital artists. In 1996, she became the featured artist for the launch of Dotcom gallery and International Forum for the Digital Arts sponsored by Prodigy Inc. (the # biggest Internet company at that time), with GIF animations of her avatar. Her 1995 head immersive virtual reality fractal based installation went straight from Soho galleries to the CEO office of Internet pioneer Josh Harris. Here’s a look at the splashcreen for her historic installation at the Dotcom Online gallery from 1996 on Old Web Today archive.

Marjan is known and recognised for her original and distinct style of figuration and animation in 3d CG, which still remains unmatched and unique in the world of digital and Net art, she defines this aesthetic innovation as Chronometric Sculpture, which blends the ideals of sculpture with that of animation. Another highly viral and popular creation of hers was Baisser at Mary Boone in Glassish and Waxish, which racked up millions of views on top Net art channels like Nowness, and others

“The Kiss” Baisser at Mary Boone in Glassish and Waxish, Mixed Reality 3d CG animation

Marjan was most recently an Artist-In-resident in Augmented Reality with Adobe Project Aero, a speaker on the AR/VR Art panels for #Games4Change NYCAugmented World Expo and #FashionTechWeekNY. She is featured in the current Contemporary Surrealism issue of Trebeuchet international magazine of Fine Arts, and upcoming projects include a VR exhibition with the Museum of Other Realities, Group shows at Art of Our Century gallery (NYC), online exhibition with Whitehot art magazine, and the new Microsoft Garage Art Gallery in New York City.

#GlitchOdalisque and the Golden Morphing Dollar from “To See if I Still Feel At The Armory Show 2019”. 
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marjan moghaddam

Award winning CG artist/animator known 4 transgressive #arthacks, anims, AR/VR, & unique style of figuration & anim.

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