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You may ask how did I get here? I have to credit, lucky timing, lots of entropy and curiosity.
I have always been a creative person but it was always centered on the written word.
My path in life always seemed to be to driven by technology. I began programming after I bought the cheapest computer I could afford. (TI/99 4A) I actually created early digital art with it but of course there was no market for a teen in the 80s.
In college I majored in computer information systems but my favorite classes were literature and creative arts. But the demand for labor led into the computer and programming field. I did have fun getting my first employer onto the world wide web however.
But in 2011 I began thinking that I could be an artist. I was visited by Nam June Paik in that year. It was at a resort that had a large collection of artwork. Every room had at least five works of art displayed. The game room had a Nam June Paik sculpture with his signature videos running on the TV CRT screens that made up the sculpture. It was a work called “Internet Dweller”
Perhaps Nam June Paik left his soul in the Dweller and it spoke to me. As I studied the career of Nam June Paik and searching for the other Internet Dwellers in the series it became clear that I could be an artist.
My present reality had formed in 1974 before I had even started programming. The convergence of art, programming, the internet and a network for artists had been conceived by Nam June Paik in his paper: Media Planning for the Postindustrial Age – The 21st Century is now only 26 years away In it he coined the phrase Electronic Superhighway and asked for funding to build a worldwide network exclusively built for artists.
So I began sketching my art ideas. I was searching for a style I guess. Most of my early ideas were interactive installation sculptures. I made sculptures and mobiles from old electronics. I started making videos. I came across software that would turn SVG drawings into sound and when played on oscilloscope would make images on the screen. Then I warped the sound to make it animate and recorded it to play on iPod Nanos for a multi-channel sculpture.
Why oscilloscopes? The first digital art ever created appeared on early computers outfitted with oscilloscopes for screens. The Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) computer was one of these computers that I have featured in my art.
I tried to enter these works into art shows that required entry fees but that did not seem to work well for me.
I learned how therapeutic it was to make art. I would just forget about everything that was depressing me and just make something.
During the beginning of this time of exploration in 2011 – 2013 I was struggling with my spirituality. I think art was replacing my old beliefs. I lost faith in what I had been taught all my life. Creating art filled in and was more mentally healthy than trying to justify the paradox of what I used to believe in.
Then 2016 ended and the election sent me deep into making more art. It was now a form of political protest for me. The many protests of 2016-2020 inspired the title image which I made using gas mask images.
Along the way I read “The Handmaid’s Tale”. I started creating one of the machines described in the book. The Soul Scroll or as it was called by Offred – Holy Roller. A person would pay a small amount of money for a prayer to be printed and read aloud. This was important for women because they were not permitted to read and it generated money for the “church / government”.
I created a machine that would print out random prayers when requested by a tweet and then read them out loud. But I wanted a digital micropayment system that would allow people to pay for the prayer.
Well, this sent me into a wormhole I have not returned from. I found cryptocurrency and began following people in the cryptocurrency space like SteemIt and Ethereum.
The next series of events happened so quickly I cannot remember what sequence they happened in. It was the summer of 2018.
I came across ArtNome Jason Bailey’s blog in my searches for art and cryptocurrency. He had just posted that SuperRare was looking for artists. So, I sent SuperRare a request to be on the platform with some of my oscilloscope and scanography art. They seemed interested in June 2018. But when I sent Jon Perkins what I had in mind to tokenize I did not hear back.
I had sent them some of my experimental works and political pieces with little context. Not sure why but I did not hear back from them.
Around this time I found out about Robbie Barrat. Being a programmer I had already been following the artificial intelligence / machine learning space. Later I saw he was showing work on SuperRare.
But I became really interested when I saw Edmund de Belamy sell at Christie’s. I had already been thinking about trying Robbie’s ART-DCGAN project. It turned out that the AI model the artists of Edmund used was created by Robbie.
I spent about a week trying over and over to get the software to work. It relied on older NVIDIA packages so the configure process was time consuming. But when I got it working, the first set of training I gave it, was my oscilloscope art – 20,000 frames of oscilloscope images.
The output was amazing. I immediately started sharing it on twitter and tagging Robbie on it. Robbie replied within minutes saying how much he loved it.
I wrote a blog post describing my process and presenting the images I had created. I wanted to give the work a story and some context this time around. I sent an email back to Jon Perkins about joining SuperRare again with the blog post. He replied saying that he had already read the blog post and that they had accepted me to the platform.
On November 20, 2018 I minted my first artwork. Accompanied by a short story about the SAGE computer possessed by an AI entity. It got its first two bids the next day. I accepted the final bid to VK Crypto about six days later.
The journey was just starting and yet I keep mining the experiences of my past into the present as art.
The Journey Continues
The artists on SuperRare are amazing. Coming in as a new artist they accepted my ideas and art. It made me even more sure that I could be a better artist. Hackatao asked for my work to be in his exhibition “Fight Fear” It was a great honor and exciting to be in my first international exhibition. And then on top of it all he purchased the work I showed.