Armin Blasbichler • Guest Editor

Our guest editor will shine a spotlight on artists and artworks from across the platform.

I am an architect, artist and educator. Alongside to my professional practice I worked in academia for more than 15 years at different universities across different European countries. Recently I quit my tenured position as a professor for integrative design at the Academy of Art and Design in Basel, Switzerland to focus again on my own artistic interests. Fascinated by the disruptive potential of blockchain-based and blockchain-mediated art I've been following the development of the space very closely since early 2018. I consult startups and institutions operating in the creative industries and as a member of a multidisciplinary collective in late 2019 I contributed to, a coopetitive digital art experiment on Ethereum.

Featured artwork

While Rare Digital Art is an umbrella term for tokenized digital art, the genre of CryptoArt is a vibrant subculture within it, blurring the boundaries between popular culture and fine art. To me Max Osiris is the prototype exponent of CryptoArt: unpredictable, satiric, reflective, entertaining, combative, quick-witted, fragile, punky, crazy, passionate, playful, excessive, and the list could go on. In contrast to his more familiar surreal, vivid, remix- and glitch-rich works, this ready-made is blatantly real, combining imagery, price tag, description and image size to expose current wash trading practices by colluding entities. I often thought of Max as a potential 27 Club candidate but fortunately he made it through – here we are now, entertain us.

Artist collaborations are a well-established practice in CryptoArt. The joint venture between Robness Cyperpop and Norman Harman is of particular interest. Robness the flamboyant and rebellious multi-talent and Norman Harman the chronicler of a grim and dysfunctional world; two contrasting distinct visual languages in free floating conversation glimpsing into future life-worlds. Reminiscent of Ant Farm’s ‘Media Burn’, this piece evokes the sensation of driving a car with a covered windshield forcing the driver to incessantly pan his view between the two side-view mirrors. The balancing act of the 'Last Confirmation' series’ narrative of moving forward while looking backwards generates a rhapsody of diverging forces.

Sparrow’s modern-day alchemy spans from studies with light, colour, code, AI and physical materials up to carefully elaborated artworks. Like the stalker in Andrei Tarkovksy's eponymous film she seems to take the viewer on a journey charting the digital landscape by throwing test objects ahead of her, all in service of searching for a place, which is believed to make the deepest meaning come to light. 'Let the Light In' reminds me of Martin Creed’s baffling 'Work No. 227: The lights going on and off', a subtle intervention challenging the viewer’s perception of space and time by recalibrating commonplace phenomena. And while keeping my eyes at those flickering stripes my hand starts picking the petals of a daisy: Sparrow, Creed, Sparrow, Creed, Sparrow... Sparrow.

Looking at the spectrum of creators in the CryptoArt movement one can notice that the majority of the actors come from all walks of life with multifaceted backgrounds equipped with a variety of skills. In opposition to the fabricated pyramids of excellence in the traditional art and design world this very condition of openness makes the space such a cooperation-prone, cross-pollinating and fertile ecosystem where the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and the Masterful meet at eye level. Andres Senn is such a new renaissance man. His distinctive visual language stems from his background in musical composition, programming and multimedia works. Whenever I look at his electric ‘graphic notations’ I see a 15th century artist-scientist in his studio desperately trying to squeeze evolutionary natural phenomena into systems of man-made logic. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to actually listen to these images?

You may think this is not very original but I couldn’t resist to feed a non-custom GPT-2 model with carefully selected keywords about Helena Sarin a.k.a. glagolista to assist me in writing an explainer about her unique artistic practice called Neural Bricolage: "I think Helena is very vibrant," Louisa says. "You never get a whole issue with the color," George said. "She's a pretty color, but can see very good greens, white rose — and, uh, pink — as well as reds, oranges, reds, green, white chocolate, as well as orange." "Some people noticed a very obvious color palette," George added. Still, in a way I wasn't expecting, the color scheme is still quite interesting, George added. "It's still pretty easy to imagine," he said. And there she is. Helena is wearing a lot of bright green and pink, "but that's really strange," George said.

Artonymousartifakt a.k.a. artonymousartifakt i.e. nomen est omen is an anonymous pioneer in the CryptoArt space. His main themes gravitate around the human condition in a state of cognitive and to emotional distress. The peculiar portraying mastery stems from merging traditional painting techniques with digital tools and processes. Despite being digital, the works convey a mysterious palpable quality, oscillating between an almost haptic sensation and ephemeral drift. I am particularly impressed how much more subtle and articulate, richer and complex his works have become since his inception in the space. Artonymousartifakt is a quiet and reflective worker who appears to gives little about the sometimes-stormy waters in the CryptoArt sea. This piece is called ‘Self destruction #2’; follow the call to action, press ‘Buy now’ and then burn it, if you dare.

We would like to thank Armin Blasbichler for giving up their time to collaborate on this with us. Follow @twistedsisterio for their updates and insights.