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:
I’ve always loved maps, detailed maps, maps that show things that are no longer there and maps that make your imagination wonder at what is to come. My grandfather worked with the US Army Transportation Corps during WWII, and I own a few of his strategic maps of Europe, along with my parent’s travel guides through what was West Germany. I have atlases from countries that have changed names, and we have a globe showing borders that are now decades gone. I still have travel atlases from when my bands would tour the eastern USA in the 90 and 2000s. The beauty of maps is that they allow us to view place and time, geographically, and politically, for one fleetingly brief moment in history.
Heliodoro Santos is an amazing artist that I’ve admired since the early days of the Tezos-based Hic Et Nunc platform back in 2021. Most of his work that I’ve collected are described by him as “landscape generated by machine learning and computer vision algorithms. The dream of a landscape by the machine”. Below is one of my favorite pieces called Landscape dissolution II, described by the artist as “Exploring generative adversarial network and particles”:
Map 1 is my introduction to the artist using more two-dimensional work. I really love the colors at play here, they are the first thing that drew my eye to it, the strong contrast of reds, orange and light blue. As the viewer of any map, we want this area to exist, to find something familiar and focus on a concrete location, but we cannot. Much of this looks like the southwestern United States, the red areas resembling the heat maps that we’ve seen much of this year. It also looks like there are elements of the Mexican peninsula throughout. The piece feels very Pacific in nature. I love the fact that the map itself includes what appears to be a legend, in white, the text garbled, but still present. It’s beautiful:
Once again, the mystery behind this work’s creation adds to its beauty. I’m sure I could try to get an explanation of processes and machinery behind this (perhaps not?) but regardless, it’s a really amazing piece that carries the weight of most maps in this day and age, portending geographic motion, displacement, confusion and massive, uncontrollable swaths of heat.
As you approach your second birthday, a few things hold true: you love the Elmo Slide, swinging on your swing set, your mom’s boobs and owls. The stuffed baby owl we got you a couple of months ago took favorite status away from all of your other toys when we finally figured it all out: the reason you like owls so much is that you are, in fact, nocturnal 🙂
I’ve loved the artist GoldCat’s work for a couple of years now, and her stature has grown quite a bit during that time — her works on SuperRare command thousands of dollars and she has works available through Christies.
One half of the artist’s Prelude series from November of 2021, Eventide captures the ominous stare of a Great Horned Owl perched, and surrounded by swirls of red clouds, or perhaps smoke. Perhaps it’s the glow of the magic hour, which means the hunt will begin soon. In the distance, near the base of the figure, you can see what appears to be clear sky, perhaps the remnants of the day. Time to take flight.
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.
OlgaFradina is a Kiev-based artist and designer whose work I discovered on the Tezos-based marketplace Objkt.com in mid-2022. Since then, I’ve managed to collect quite a few unique pieces, on both Tezos and Ethereum, and as a collector I’m always eager to see what comes next.
Olga’s work is abstract and layered, but carries a unique precision, with muted colors dominating much of the work. The artist was kind enough to answer a few questions for marg.art via email exchange in February of 2023, as the war in Ukraine passed a grim, first anniversary.
First, I know you are in Ukraine — how is the situation where you live, day to day? To what degree has the impact of war had an effect on you, and your work? And is there anything, beside collecting your art, that readers can do to assist or help in any way?
The war completely changed my life. And, paradoxically, not everything is for the worse. I have been involved in art since childhood, I went to different studios. But my main job for the last 20 years has been interior design. This was always not enough for me and at the same time I drew something for myself and was engaged in ceramics. I didn’t make money from it, my customers were my architect friends. The work routine did not allow me to do this anymore. When the war began, almost all projects stopped and I was able to devote myself completely to art. During the first months of the war, this was not possible. But when the troops retreated from Kyiv and it became calmer, I devoted myself completely to my work. A year of war has now passed. And I don’t know if I could have endured it if there was no NFT artistic community. Communication allows me to forget a little about what is happening outside the window. So everyone who likes, supports, buys (my work) helps me in the most complete way.
Odd as that sounds, that is somewhat refreshing to hear, that some semblance of normalcy still occurs. I’d love to know more about your creative routine, if possible. Is there anything special you do to get into a creative mindset?
I work at night — during the day there are many things to do, communication, the dog is very active and wants to play all the time! I like to stay alone and immerse myself in the meditation of work. I can’t have anything to distract me.
Can I get some insight as to how you compose these images? For example, a recent piece, Dig.N.26 is one of my favorites. I love the layers and details. Do you use traditional, commercial tools, or do you have any custom tools that you use to create this imagery?
I work with standard commercial tools. 3D work is done in Cinema 4D. When I started doing digital art and NFT, I planned to continue the theme of interiors by transferring it to the digital space. But I was so fascinated by procedural processes and generative art that I completely changed my approach.
I prefer to always be in the role of a student. This gives me a reason not to stop.
I’m currently learning TouchDesigner on my own. And with my old friend we are jointly doing projects in p5.js. He has been my assistant for interior visualizations for many years. He knows programming languages better than me. I study in the process of creating a project and study with a teacher. We jointly look for ideas for the base code, then I deal with variations and the search for artistic solutions. I have always loved research and experimentation. And with generative art, I felt myself in the right place. The same with the Digital Nature collection. I immerse myself completely in the search for aesthetic finds using different tools.
I know you’ve been in the design world for some time. What influences have had an impact on your design work, as well as your art? Can you separate design work from art work, easily?
My design practice is probably still different from my art. In interior design, I use a lot of natural materials – stone, wood, cement, textiles. My interiors are very sensual and tactile. I love handcrafted things, Wabi-Sabi philosophy. In the beginning, I was also fond of many interiors in search of my own style. Now I know exactly what I’m doing.
Likewise with art. I think I’m still in the experimental stage. I sometimes want to do very calm things, sometimes I want an emotional outburst. But I would like my art to feel closer to my interiors. In the latest collections, I explore a lot of textures.
I love a lot of art and the list can be very long. And at different times it changes a little. But if I am asked to quickly name my favorite, I know what to say quickly: Cy Twombly and Pierre Soulages. And everything Axel Vervoordt does — from interiors to his gallery and curation.
Congratulations on the success of your two drops on Verse. Both collections were incredible, and sold out quickly. I had to opt to purchase my Lithograph (above) on secondary, but I’m almost glad I missed out on the initial mint, as it shows there is a great market for your art outside of the Tezos ecosystem. I also know you have collections on Foundation and Opensea. Will you be continuing to do multi-chain releases in the future?
I am honored to collaborate with Verse. I think their curation is very high quality. For me, this is the first collaboration with the gallery and I am happy that it went well. I plan to mint more on Ethereum. Now I am preparing a separate collection for this. I like Tezos. When I was choosing which platform to start with, I liked the idea of CleanNFT — but I think we need to develop further.
All of your series have unique names. At what point do you know that you’ve created something new, as opposed to something that may fit into an already existing series?
Everything happens intuitively. I see that another topic has begun. I may have a different mood, experience new emotions. Sometimes after a while I want to go back and add a few works to the collection. I feel that the topic is not yet closed for me. But it always turns out differently after a while. I work with emotions and they are never the same.
I know you have an AI-based project called 27.000.27. What do you think AI’s role will play going forward in the art world? What tools do you use, and look forward to using for these images? Are they all created from text (prompts), or do you use images to begin them?
I started experimenting with AI in the summer of 2022. But later in Kyiv there were big problems with electricity and for several months I had the Internet for only a few hours per day. I’m using Midjourney, and it’s not realistic without internet. When I had a permanent internet again, I could not tear myself away from AI research for a week.
My interest wanes and rekindles. I see artists who work very individually with AI and make quality art. I do not think that I am now a great specialist in this area — I would like to develop this topic. I want to explore other applications, as well.
I use mostly text inputs without an image. I like to mix my different arts with each other. Sometimes amazing results are obtained. I don’t show much of what I do. I made a second twitter account for this. But in my opinion, I overestimated my capabilities — a lot of social networking is difficult.
When I work with AI, I feel like a bit of an art director. It is difficult for me to predict the role of AI now, but I think it will be significant. I think about it a lot. Everything is moving so fast right now. Looking back just a few years, things were different. I remember when the first social networks started and it was a little entertainment. Now, for many, work is unthinkable without it. Sometimes it seems strange.
What do you think of generative art? I know you’ve released a 1/1 series on Objkt.com called FOREST — are there any plans in the works to do a long-form generative project a la fxhash, and if so, can you give us any further information?
When I started to get interested in NFT, I first saw works of generative art. I immediately felt an interest in it. But I haven’t been programming since the time I studied at the institute and I didn’t remember anything. Before, I didn’t have much passion for programming. But my interest was so great that I started learning programming from the beginning.
Now I try to study the history of generative art, I read interviews of great masters. I am very interested in developing in this direction and I still have a lot to learn. In fact, I study there a lot now that sometimes it seems to me that my head will burst! At the moment, we have already released the first project (the long form Between on fxhash) and are preparing several more.
One final question: what piece of advice would you give to girls who wish to pursue a life of art and design?
I would advise all people in art to know history well and to be inquisitive and open to new things. I have many friends of creative professions and some of them are stuck in their development and cannot achieve what they want. I analyzed what unites them, and I think that they are not very interested in what is happening around them. And it is very important to believe in yourself and what you are doing. And if you do it with passion, then it will surely bear fruit.
But it is also important not to think that you have already achieved something. I prefer to always be in the role of a student. This gives me a reason not to stop.
My immense thanks to Olga for taking the time to answer these questions. If you’d like to follow the artist on Twitter or other places, here is a Linktree which also contains links to marketplaces currently selling works.
A pseudo-random pick from my collections comes from the artist celadoor, who bills his works as “more of a vibe than a series.” He’s actually a good friend & confidant in the space, and offers a very level-headed approach whenever discussing the latest trends in the Tezos-based art world. In describing his process, he offers this:
I take pictures of moments that never happened and landscapes that don’t exist using a smartphone camera, a light source, and my finger. Most work includes paper currency as a reflective surface.
A striking image of muted, golden sunlight, with cloud-like formations bleeding into a mountain range below, or, perhaps, more clouds, Atmospherics Twenty-Eight is, as you likely guessed, the 28th item in the artist’s Atmospherics series. Released August 5th, 2021, it was priced extremely (or ridiculously) affordable at just 0.2 Tz (around 0.65 $USD at the time). And yet, incredibly, many of them sat unsold for nearly a full month.
Prolific artists are often misunderstood by the more “serious” art crowd, as those collectorsinvestors prefer limited pieces, sold selectively, the elusive exclusivity of the “Super Rare”. In remaining so prolific and also relatively affordable, celadoor has catered to the true collector here in keeping a healthy supply of easily accessible artworks available through and through. Although, lately, it is getting harder and harder to find a celadoor piece near a 0.2tz price. Remember kids, just because it is affordable now does not mean it’ll stay that way. In the case of Atmospherics Twenty-Eight, all copies sold, but you can still get one — now at about 12 tez.
Follow celadoor on Twitter, find his works on Objkt and (soon) on fx(hash)!
Released on December 21st, 2021 on the Tezos-based generative art platform fx(hash)*, Nick Hubben’s Pure Phase is a perfectly simple piece that builds from three overlapping layers, each moving in the same harmonic time, but against each other, creating a design that is eternally out of phase; disharmonious and convergent at the same time. It’s beautiful, it’s brilliant, it’s so simple and a it remains a great example of what generative art can be.
I now own a handful of these (the cost of these at minting was the around 4$USD) but between #203 and #89 I can’t decide on which is my favorite, so I’ve included both here for you to enjoy. There are so many great variations of this piece. As of this writing, thirty or so remain on the secondary market — starting around 8tz (~$17USD).
Nicklaus has not released anything since Pure Phase on the platform, but I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. Feel free to follow him on Twitter and (fx)hash.
*full disclosure: I’ve been on the fxhash team since the early days.
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:
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.
Doom and gloom cycles perpetuate the crypto world seemingly every few months, starting with an obvious affect on a single protocol (or coin) before inevitably taking down an entire market like a perfect game of dominoes. In the world of May of 2022, this shift was due to a person or persons taking advantage of instruments to manipulate markets and take down a particular stablecoin. Before this event, the evil harbinger was interest rates, and before that it was the Poly hack, Ronin, Bitconnect, Kucoin, Mt. Gox, and so on. These hacks are a self-replicating monster lurking under the bed, waiting for everyone to get complacent before unleashing themselves every once in a while, depleting everyone’s investments, and making Matt Damon look like even more of an asshole than he already is.
The NFT market isn’t given any immunity at all. When the price of crypto falls, so do NFT markets. Yet some artists on Tezos have embraced this, and are creating works that showcase a heightened sense of uncertainty. The recent #fear4tez event brought together over 100 artists to release limited works that revolve around the theme of fear. On this page are some of my favorites, with links to purchase. Many of these cost only around 1 Tz, or the current equivalent of about $1.78, an incredible bargain in today’s dreadful markets.
The greatest piece of advice my mother ever gave to me was a truth that life is unfair. It doesn’t matter how much love you may give, or how much joy you may share — our world is inevitably, and naturally unfair to us all.
With this in mind, we must always remember to enjoy each day for the little joys it brings, from the morning laughter of a newly-awakened child, to seeing a dog manically run laps in the backyard. Concentrate less on what makes life unfair, live in the moment and focus on what brings you enjoyment.
It’s also always important to enjoy art, collect what you love (and can afford), and support artists even in down times. Especially in down times! Tomorrow, next month, or next year will certainly bring another downturn, but artists will continue to make incredible work, regardless, and that is a big gain in my book.
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.