Going back in for my gloves / Closing in…

Highlighting two amazing works for Halloween this year from Danish artist Spøgelsesmaskinen

Above: Going back in for my gloves

Moving down a hallway, a door opens, and a cloaked phantom appears to walk through the next doorway. Repeat.

Above: Closing in

Running through a forest at night, light glimmers from flashlights, bouncing on the ground and leaves as we close in … on something.

As simple loops, Going back… and Closing in are perfect examples of Danish artist Spøgelsesmaskinen’s work found on the Tezos-based Hic Et Nunc platform from early 2021: both pieces are eerily mysterious, permeated with shadows and contrasting light, all created with 4-bit graphics reminiscent of vintage computer games from the late 1990s.

The framing differs between the pieces, but they share a sense of propulsion, moving forward with almost identical speed and perspective. The looping repetition is seamless, adding more uncertainty to the perplexing search. Where are the gloves? What are we closing in on?

I have no idea how the artist comes up with these concepts, nor do I want to know. Mystery is what makes these pieces come together so well. The pieces are permeated throughout by an unsettling, disconcerted sense of unease. It feels dated and timeless at once, and that sense of curiosity is piqued every time I come upon these enigmatic little gifs. Even the blurbs (on Objkt) where a description normally goes says nothing terribly descriptive, only the characteristics of the file itself, and the items contained within:

The artist remains prolific, continuing to produce works on both Ethereum and Tezos, and has a gallery show at Bricks Gallery in Copenhagen through November of 2023. Feel free to follow the artist via the links below:

Website: https://www.spogel.xyz/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/spogelsemaskine

Objkt: https://objkt.com/profile/spogel/created

Ethereum: https://www.spogel.xyz/ssmbl/

Happy Halloween!

The Memory of Home

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Artist: Elham Yazdanian

Some recently acquired pieces to discuss here. I am completely unfamiliar with the artist, but I greatly enjoy a lot of monochromatic art and love the starkness shown in each of these pieces. Each house is darkened, and the almost opaque, minimal contents add to a sense of wonder — a table, a staircase, overhead beams — the “curiosities” mentioned in each items description. An emphasis on the structure, and a underlying sense of impermanence pervade the works.

The artist writes the same description on each piece released, so far:

“The memory of home” A house is not just a place with iron pillars and plaster walls and doors. Rather, there is any place where a person can live and take refuge from the fear of the unlimited and unknown outer space. The house is the limit and separation between “inside” and “outside”. Turning the unknown into the familiar. A place of its own among all. And here, a black icon that seeks to be discovered and reveals a part of its mystery with every curiosity, to remember what is going away and to preserve what is lost. . . Ink & Pencil on Paper…

– Elham Yazdanian

I also love the fact that these began and exist as physical works of ink and pencil on paper. While I love digital art for the ease of collecting (and storing) I also enjoy wondering what these works look like in person.

Find the artist on Twitter, here and find their works here.

Tower Of Babel (or) Social Climbing

Artist: Tim Maxwell

Tim Maxwell is a NYC-based artist that works with hand drawn lines. Lots and lots of finely-crafted, meticulous, time consuming, hand drawn lines — usually with a trusted fountain pen, on large sheets of paper. It is a very precise, redundant degree of work, but if there is one thing I love about his method it’s just this — the degree of repetition and laser-beam focus on his craft. Out of this monotonous tedium are born incredibly stunning works of art.

Tim is also a solid friend in the NFT art space. I can’t remember when we began corresponding via Twitter, but I do recall the conversation starting around an old photo of Fugazi, and moving on from there. I’ve since collected quite a few of his works. When I though of which of his pieces to showcase here, Tower of Babel jumped out at me. It’s an earlier piece of his, one that he released on the Hic Et Nunc (now Teia) marketplace, in late May of last year.

Tim often works within a few themes, occasionally containing shadowy, humanoid figures scrambling in desolate, endless landscapes. Or at gates, waiting patiently. Or climbing impossibly large staircases. He factors our vain existence as a whole here, as these figures try to climb impossible heights, and fail. Here, a tiny detail from the downloaded IPFS file:

Everyone scrambling like mad.

The piece reminds me of Orson Welles’ interpretation of The Trial, in it’s starkly contrasted, black-and-white beauty — not to mention a few themes evident in Kafka’s original: anti-individuality vs. conformed society, alienation, control, collective consciousness and humanity’s eternal struggle against it.

I am greatly looking forward to meeting Tim at NFTNYC, coming up later this month, where I hope we can chat about more than just art! Besides the work on Tezos, Tim has also released work on Nifty Gateway and Foundation, among many other places. Feel free to check out his releases and follow him on Twitter.


Artist: Lance Weiller

Gemini by Lance Weiller

Lance Weiler, known online as culturehacker, is an artist/storyteller who works with code to produce glitchy, striking images that often take you to unexpected places. Often working in portrait, his faces and figures are sometimes ghostly, and layered, sometimes striking or bemused. You can occasionally only identify a face by the lips, or nose. He was one of the earliest artists to release work on the Hic et Nunc platform in March of 2021, and remains active in the Tezos community via releases on Objkt.com.

Gemini is fairly typical of his lighter work, capturing a striking gaze in close duplicate, with a marked degree of distortion, melting and glitch. Gemini was a small edition of three. I noticed that another of the editions is owned by Ganbrood, a friend and artist who will appear in this blog soon.

Recently I found out that, like myself, Lance studied film in college, and that he had the opportunity to meet and shoot with the legendary art-film director, Stan Brakhage. This is really wonderful as I can see a bit of Brakhage’s reflections and influence scattered throughout some of Lance’s work. Lance also attempted to release a work a day in 2021, a creative exercise that is very admirable — and also exhausting! And he also recently wrote a nice piece about the demise and rebirth of the HEN community in November of last year. On top of all of this, he’s also the director of the Columbia University School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab.

See more of Lance’s work as culturehacker on Objkt.com. For his amazing series of 1/1 glitch portraits, go here. Follow him on twitter, Instagram or his own website!

The House of Bluebeard

artist: Yakudoo

Karim Maaloul, known on Twitter as Yakudoo, is a Belgian artist and an incredible storyteller and illustrator in his various works. In The House of Bluebeard, he takes the 17th century French folk tale by Charles Perrault as inspiration, and combines the story into an NFT that you can navigate and discover, interactively, by moving and zooming and panning around each of the 12 static scenes.

If you don’t know the story of Bluebeard, I recommend reading it or a variation of it before viewing this NFT. You don’t want to spoil the ending, do you? Keep in mind that, like most folk tales, it can get a little gory.

The wonder of tiny details abound in each frame. Notice the details from inside the house — the upstairs dining hall, walls and grandfather clock — all of which you can zoom into — to see ever-clearer details:

Note the key on the floor!

The piece never ceases to amaze me. In writing this up I discovered that detail exists even inside the paintings on the walls.

Detail from a painting in the house.

It’s an incredible work, and has a dark sense of foreboding in every frame. Maaloul is no stranger to folk tales. He’s also done an interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood, another interactive work that, as with Bluebeard, lets you pan around the scene and zoom in and out for detail, some of which you won’t notice till your fifth or sixth viewing. It’s amazing.

The interactive zoom/pan “trick” (I’m at a loss for what to call it) that is used in both works is subtle, and adds to the wonder and sense of mystery of the original folk tale. It’s a style that is clearly Maaloul’s own, and I hope he continues to produce more of these little gems soon.

Day 4 abstract event

Artist: rio_p

Today’s post features the 4th installment in a fun, abstract advent collection by rio_p, available as an NFT on Tezos. rio_p is an artist/facilitator who works with mixed media, and whose Twitter profile says that they are “dipping my toe in the NFT waters…” I love seeing these new works each day — they are bright, colorful and totally abstract, almost dreamlike at times. Also, they are based on something relatively new to me: Art Pedagogy, which is defined as follows from their website:

ArtPedagogy aims to promote reflective, authentic art and design teaching and learning, delivered with a spirit of ‘serious mischief’. 

Looks like I have a bunch of more research to do on this, but it seems like a very cool concept to learn, and maybe pass on to my daughter. Each NFT has been extremely inexpensive at around ten cents $USD. I missed out on the first couple of drops, but intend to get one of each remaining day. Here is day ten, released today:

Above: Day 10 abstract event

There are plenty of rio_p’s works available via Objkt.com here and be sure to keep an eye out for each new one in this series, dropping daily till the 25th. Enjoy!

Psychedelic chicken à la mode

Artist: Iskra Velitchkova

Iskra Velitchkova is a Spanish-based generative artist whose creations run from incredibly colorful and wild, to hazier, darker and somber in tone. Almost all of her creations have elements of mystery and wonder, as the above clearly shows. I remember seeing Psychedelic Chicken in a random tweet a few months back, and rushing to see if it was available on Hic Et Nunc1, only to find that all 15 editions had sold out quickly. She has a number of pieces that showcase the above bird theme, including a larger edition that shows iterations of the figure, and even a few that contain motion, as seen here:

Above: Birth ii – Alive by Iskra Velitchkova

I continue to love all of her work, but Psychedelic Chicken was an absolute favorite when I first saw it. I bookmarked the page, hoping to return and find it available, sometime, somehow. And after a month or so, I randomly checked back and there it was — for the then-low price of 20tz (about USD$46 at the time). The image just makes me happy, and I’m still overjoyed to have it in my collection. It remains one of my all-time favorite pieces of this year, and I hope you enjoy it as well.

1 Now defunct, Hic Et Nunc was one of the ‘original’ NFT marketplaces on the Tezos blockchain..

Return (#21)

Artist: Aaron Penne

Keep watching that little dot…

Note: here is the link to the actual dynamically changing work, above. Go ahead and click on it to open it in a tab, stare at the center for a few moments, then come back here!

Return is a series of generative art pieces that Aaron Penne did for Art Blocks in June of 2021. When purchased using Ethereum, buyers could mint a unique, one-of-a-kind artwork from this series of 300. All were minted dynamically, upon purchase. Other pieces in the series have less rings, others are monochrome, and some are even square.

Aaron defined this piece this way:

“Return” is a meditation on returning inward, cyclical change, and the beauty of iteration. The composition of each piece slowly loops, providing a new experience for the viewer over time.

What I love about this piece is how subtle it is. It forces the audience to become still for a while, and think quietly as they watch the work transform, gradually. It demands patience, something many of us in today’s modern world will greatly resent. You cannot simply open this in a tab in a browser and expect to see it change if you leave and go back to it — you will only see the change occur if you keep that tab open. Brilliant. If that doesn’t give you a slight smile as you watch that dot in the center get bigger — slowly, so slowly — over time … then just take a breath. Every time I view it, even for a few minutes, I can’t help but leave it smiling.

Eventually (note: potentially hours) the entire cycle begins to repeat itself again. Amazing.

Note to Margaret: hopefully by the time you can read this, we’ll have adequate (and affordable) 1:1 displays (40″ x 40″ or larger) that we can run these pieces on permanently. Maybe we already have one? Go ask you mother.

Once in a Lifetime

Artist: Juki

A randomly selected piece for my first post comes from a Turkish artist name Juki, who uses bright pallets and imagery to create an incredible mood. What I love about this piece is the strong contrast of saturated colors, mixed with the more cloudy, muted tones in the distance, the rays of light coming down from above, the towering stalks, and of course, the golden-yellow buck peering (cautiously?) at the side. In the foreground rests a felled tree, the only one down.

It’s slightly haunting, slightly bewildering, and also amazing. You want to jump in, and walk around, and get lost in this place. Juki’s other pieces carry the same contrast and pallets. Check out more of the artists work here!