Soliloquy

We welcome Dap the Contract for the first instalment of our ‘Soliloquoy’ series.

Soliloquy is an ongoing Fathom Magazine series born out of our desire to remove filters and engage musicians directly. A Soliloquy will accompany each Issue, and will see Fathom invite musicians to express themselves through a creative interpretation of the issue theme.

Dap the Contract

Watch the Video

Written, Shot and Directed by DAP the Contract

About DAP the Contract

Hailing from Lagos, Nigeria classically trained pianist and producer/rapper DAP possesses an inkling for creating incredible music. At an early age he was drawn to music through an entirely musical family. He started playing the piano aged 4 and passed his ABRSM Grade 8 Piano with distinction aged 13, and went on to attain a DipABRSM Performance Diploma on the Piano aged 17.

After high school in London, UK, he attended the Berklee College of Music for two semesters as part of a gap year with the intention of majoring in Contemporary Writing & Production or Music Production & Engineering, and on his departure after the summer released a mixtape titled GoodBye For Now.

He released his fourth mixtape GoodBye For Never, a sequel to GoodBye For Now, in October 2014. In May 2016, he graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics and Computer Music & Multimedia. Following the release of his Two Roads EP in April 2017 and the two-part Contract Thursday’s series later in the year, he is currently a student at Columbia Law School.

Although he is a relative newcomer in the music industry he fully intends on making his mark in a major way when it’s all said and done.

This is only the beginning.

DAP the Contract / Soundcloud / Instagram

Fathom Gallery

A look into the world of Fathom’s newest platform for emerging artists.

Fathom Gallery is our forthcoming platform aimed at redefining the art world online. Installing work and presenting artists through methods that breathe life from the heart of the artist’s studio into the consumer’s eye, we seek to re-purpose the standard gallery from a commercial intermediary to an art-centered, community-driven nexus of art appreciation. With each issue of the magazine, this section will keep readers up to date with the space, providing unique, gallery-related content. 

The Gallery

A Statement from the Curator

When the Fathom team and I first sat down to discuss this project, I remember thinking to myself how perfect a synthesis of our creative house an online gallery would be. With boundless opportunity to engage artists and more consistently interact with the art world, a gallery in our eyes embraces a wealth of insight from a body of people excited to connect and discuss art on a higher plane of thought. In surveying the current landscape, we found an online gallery to best complement our offering and be best able to improve on some of the overarching flaws in the current ecosystem.

One of the main criticisms that we have in brick and mortar galleries is akin to the “Starbucks Effect”, whereby they seek to be the third place for consumers to engage with art, distinct and often isolated from the studios that produce the work. While some find it a favorable option for aggregating and disseminating information to a larger audience, galleries will often times remove the spirit of the artists from the work they represent in the process. Through rigid construction and maxim, traditional gallery spaces have preserved an almost sterile quality in their presentation of artwork: the principle being if you want to see beyond it, you have to go through it. However, the question we pose today is whether that approach adequately supports and augments the art community to the best of its ability. We look to challenge this notion of the gallery as a gateway, instead treating it as a bridge beyond the artwork, connecting artists and consumers both between each other and amongst themselves.

Similarly, our primary critique of the online gallery environment much resembles the “Amazon Effect”, whereby artwork falls to the whim of a marketplace and digital anonymity constrains an artist’s ability to express his/her vision holistically. Acknowledging the administrative benefits of digital commerce for emerging artists seeking representation, it is important to note that these artists in tandem often sacrifice autonomy over their work and likeness in the process. Further, with a more grab-all, uniform approach to curation and installation, many online galleries make it more difficult to appreciate the marks that define a piece, in turn diminishing the related affects inspired. Addressing these concerns, we have drawn up the Fathom Gallery with a localized approach to curation and an interactive framework for installation, the directive being to engage the people and the context from which the artwork responds.

With regards to mechanics, the guiding principle is that in collaborating with an ever-growing community of artists, we will organize a show at a given point in time that speaks to the current state of affairs in the world, curating the work accordingly. However, as we will host a forum for constant interaction between artists and appreciators, the conversation of the moment will be ongoing and the ideas freshly generated across our community. When we believe the tides have shifted to a new subject, we will setup a new show, and the process will continue. The featured artists will be those who we believe resonate best in the current worldview regarding the topic at hand.

With this lens in mind, I look forward to participating in many a great conversation inspired from profound, progressive artwork. I am eager for our forthcoming opening this Spring, and I cannot wait to share with our community the powerfully inspiring artists I have had the privilege of working with in the process.

In the section below please find the prompt for our first exhibition, Imagined Clarity.

Roger Golub, Head of Curatorial

Exhibition #1: Imagined Clarity

Conscious of the innumerable opposing dualities present in modern interaction, we seek to present work that resonates with these unknowingly complementary pairings. Set in the framework of the modern haze of interpretation, we look to place clean with chaotic, uniform with textured, loud with regimented.

In the synthesis and dis-aggregation of these properties, we encourage both creators and consumers to affirm the foundation of what defines their current relationships. Through both reflection and response, we look to deepen the conversation surrounding the blurred lines of contemporary communities and breathe context into their intricacies.

Contact the Gallery

Roger Golub / roger@fathomdc.com

JaMon Jackson

JaMon Jackson uses bricolage to create a video exploring systemic oppression through dance.

JaMon Jackson

A Note From The Artist

Throughout the course of history, people of color have always been the oppressed, yet they remain hopeful and always find a way to move forward. Since our origins back in Africa, dancing has played a vital role in our culture. The thought process for this visual piece stems from the concept ‘living in the shadow of power’ in which the average human is governed by the 10%. In this video, the normally oppressed people are showcased in the foreground whereas the various oppressing forces of power fall into the background. Lyrics from Flying Lotus & Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Never Catch Me’ are synced with various dance moves to create a think piece for viewers of all backgrounds. Our roots are deep and this video personifies that.

Watch

About JaMon Jackson

Ja’Mon Jackson is a multimedia artist based out of Northern VA. Inspired by popular culture, Ja’Mon seeks to engage his audience through various concepts that include strong symbolism in the forms of photography and videography. Analyzing the reality around him, his goal is to shed light on the good and bad, admitting that both exists in this world and neither should be hidden in hopes to persuade someone’s opinion.

JaMon Jackson / Instagram

Jen Lewin

Jen Lewin’s luminous sculptures masterfully play with the juxtaposition between light and shadow.

Jen Lewin

A Note From The Artist

Over the last 25 years, Jen Lewin has been honing a highly technical medium to fabricate large-scale interactive, public sculpture that encourages community interaction and play.  Lewin’s use of form and interactive light create a world of light and shadow filled with human connection and magic. This is work that truly explores the reality of a world where both digital and physical connections permeate every aspect of our lives. Placing something interactive in a well-traveled area takes people by surprise and encourages a moment of play, leading them to experience it in a new way. This can lead to a profound contextual, connected community response within public space.

Aqueous

Aqueous at Burning Man 2017 by artist Jen Lewin, Photo by Matt Emmi
Aqueous at Burning Man 2017 by artist Jen Lewin, Photo by Matt Emmi
Aqueous at Burning Man 2017 by artist Jen Lewin, Photo by Matt Emmi

Flux Chandelier

Flux Chandelier is a custom, interactive, mesh network sculpture permanently installed at The University of Akron in 2017. The sculpture is a series of four chandeliers throughout Zook Hall as part of the Ohio Arts Council’s Ohio’s Percent for Art program. The sculptures sense the height and movement of people as they pass underneath, which is reflected in the movement, patterns, and colors of the lighting throughout all four installations.

Flux Chandelier by artist Jen Lewin, Photo by Morgan Sasser
Flux Chandelier by artist Jen Lewin, Photo by Morgan Sasser

Laser Harps

The Chandelier Harp, an interactive art installation where passing a hand through a low voltage laser produces a tone, by Jen Lewin Studio at an exhibition in the CU Art Museum. This solo exhibit was titled ‘Its Electric’ and featured a variety of light and sound based interactive art by artist Jen Lewin.

The Pool

The Pool is an environment of giant, concentric circles created from interactive circular pads. By entering The Pool, you enter a world where play and collaborative movement create swirling effects of light and color. Imagine a giant canvas where you can paint and splash light collaboratively. As multiple users play in The Pool, their interactions become mesmerizing patterns of shifting and fading colors.

The Super Pool by artist Jen Lewin, Photo by Duncan Rawlinson
The Pool by artist Jen Lewin, Photo by Brendan Burkett

 

The Pool by artist Jen Lewin, Photo by Scott Wiseman
The Pool by artist Jen Lewin, Photo by Brendan Burkett

About Jen Lewin

Jen Lewin is an internationally renowned light and interactive sculptor based out of New York City. Over the last 15 years, Lewin has honed her highly technical medium to fabricate large-scale interactive sculptures that combine light, sound, and motion to encourage community interaction.

Jen Lewin / Website / Instagram

Ohwell?

Daniel Matthews explores the intrinsic connection between art and communication through the lens of his Ohwell? exhibition.

Ohwell?

Exploring Art and Communication. 

At the beginning of 2018, a friend and I put on an exhibition in South London, titled Ohwell? Featuring the work of five young artists – and marking the launch of our quarterly publication and production company (DAMFCY) – this exhibition was conceived as an attempt to highlight and explore the communicative abilities of art. The desire to do this stemmed from our perception that, despite having the events of recent years to draw upon, the emergent wave of contemporary creativity lacked a genuine and meaningful engagement with the real world of politics and society. These artists were being educated as Donald Trump rose to office; as the refugee crisis entered (and quickly exited) the public spotlight; as the UK’s domestic socio-political state regressed along increasingly ridiculous lines. These artists, despite the vastness of their surroundings, appeared confined to the bounds of aestheticism and conceptual purity.

This is not to say that there was absolutely no political attachment in any of the shows we saw, or that all art has an obligation to speak out. Rather, it is to say that the current state of affairs deserves a thoughtful response at the very least and, to go a step further, maybe even some form of challenge. What we did see when the outside world was brought into focus was often heavy-handed or clunky in its negotiation of its chosen issue. It was statement art – and whatever shock value it possessed was easily brushed off.

Maximillian Hartley
Maximillian Hartley

As subjective as it may have been, this perception pushed us to try to find and demonstrate art’s ability to perform as a tool of communication by which the issues that surround and affect us every day are kept in the individual and collective consciousness, where they can be seen, considered and acted upon, rather than being allowed to slip into obscurity. With Ohwell? we wanted to showcase art’s capacity to peak interest and stimulate discussion, as well as its unique ability to cultivate personal and communal involvement.

In reaction to the heavy-handed material mentioned above, the rationale behind Ohwell? became centred on the discrepancy between questions and statements, and the idea that questions go further than statements. When you are asked something you are made to think, you involve yourself in some way in the subject. Perhaps you look at your own experience in relation to the topic’s wider field, you consider yourself more deeply within the context or narrative posed and, through this reflexive process, you are pulled into the subject of the question. By contrast, being told something tends to allow for a more passive reception of whatever it may be. You are not required to do all that much and, importantly, you are not (always) invited to include yourself in the subject or the discussion it brings to hand.

When this idea is applied to art and the wider bounds of creativity, its potential is carried further by the fact that art is often an interpretive and highly personal experience. Furthermore, it is often an expression of emotion. Where stories and statistics inspire concern in the viewer, art garners empathy and offers perspective. When a piece of art asks questions, it has the potential to pull the viewer, as an individual, closer to the area of shared importance it addresses. By inviting the viewer to include themselves immediately – and critically – within a narrative, a piece of art can attach an individualistic relevance to a collective matter, creating a commonality that is perhaps missed by other modes of communication.

Reconnecting this rather airy idea (and hopefully this essay) back to its real world concerns are the artists, whose various works engaged with a range of very immediate societal issues. Be it the shifting dynamics of our socio-economic composition, the functionality of race in the art industry, or the influence of technology on various levels of psychology, the immediacy of these topics is owed largely to their existence as everyday phenomena. Rather than being occurrences in our lives, these issues are permanences; they operate at a low, but constant level that arguably allows us, or encourages us, to sideline them – perhaps we just get used to them and can eventually stop noticing the noise they generate.

Viviana Troya
Viviana Troya

In certain areas, this concern over the everyday may seem trivial. Some things just aren’t all that important in the grand scheme of things and we can’t be expected to mentally balance everything all of the time. But then, triviality has its limits. And what isn’t an everyday issue? The deepest and most far-reaching levels of political corruption (or ‘collusion’) happen every day. As does man-made human displacement on a vast (surely unmissable?) scale. And while these problems do receive attention and condemnation, it is often short-lived, and when the next big thing is illuminated, they continue to operate in its shadow.

In some ways, this suggests a certain level of disengagement exists. It suggests that people don’t feel personally invested or directly involved enough in these issues to push a lasting and meaningful project of corrective action. It suggests – if our theory is to be trusted – that people are being told, rather than asked, about these problems. They are being disconnected (or allowed to disconnect themselves), pushed out of the fold, their feeling of involvement decreased.

Nathan Caldecott
Nathan Caldecott

Coming back round to our aim with Ohwell? as an exhibition, and with DAMFCY as a continuing publication, our plan centres on the enlargement of the platform from which alternative modes of communication can be seen and heard. As our established channels of insight (traditional news outlets and oft-misdirected social media) seemingly lose their efficacy by falling behind or adapting poorly to an increasingly isolationist modernity, self-generated networks like Fathom and DAMFCY are becoming more important in replacing them as the tools used to share information. The hope is, that by exploring and developing the channels provided by creativity (both its products, and the sociability that it cultivates) we can heighten our understanding of – and our connection to – the questions that surround us.

Contributors / Daniel Matthews / Website

Justice and Naruto

Craig Debrah carefully crafts an argument for the informative power of anime.

Justice and Naruto

Anime’s Moral Compass.

I learnt more about justice from watching Naruto, than from my Law degree.

I studied Law at City, University of London, which included a year abroad at Université Toulouse 1 Capitole. Like most 17/18 year olds beginning their degrees in Law, I began on the basis of having a “strong sense of justice” and a “wish to do good things in the world.”.

Ironically, my law degree barely developed my “strong sense of justice.”. If anything, it numbed me to such noble overtures. It reduced justice to numbers and figures as opposed to people’s stories and the pursuit of righting wrongs.

pain
Pain, a character from the manga Naruto

Enter: Naruto.  Most are quick to dismiss anime as childish, infantile nonsense for nerds And yet, the show presents a deeply nuanced perspective on justice. A character from the show going by the name of Pain has a deeply thought provoking method of gaining World Peace. His method is a complex theory based on three pillars: Pain, Justice and Peace.

According to to Pain, there is no justice in the world as human beings have shown over time that we are incapable of resolving conflict in ways that bring about long term peace. Pain believes that this inability to solve problems is derived from our lack of understanding of one another.

Pain suggests that the only way human beings can understand one another is by going through pain. This is because once both sides of the conflict endure pain, anytime conflict arises again, both sides will think back to that moment of pain that they both went through. This knowledge and remembrance of the products of conflict will inevitably lead to a resolution between the two for fear of ever having to suffer the pain caused by conflict. This leads to peace.

This theory made me stop and think. What exactly is justice? Is it tit-for tat? You’ve caused me pain, so I want you to feel the same pain that I felt? Is it restitution? You’ve caused me damage, so now I want to restore my situation to what it was before the damage was caused? Is it preventative? You’ve caused me damage, and so now I want a resolution that should deter you from ever causing such damage again?

This made me question, and therefore learn more about justice than I did during my law degree. A law degree focuses more on who is receiving the justice, why they are deserve justice, and from where they obtain  justice, as opposed to finding out what justice actually is.

Pain’s theory holds merit: Can human beings really come to a true understanding and thereby have peace, if they haven’t felt each other’s pain before? It’s easy to preach about peace when you’ve never felt the pain the other party has felt before. It’s easy to say “Yay, peace!” rather than “I want revenge.” Is justice, therefore, vengeful?

The thought process does make sense in that there is an undeniable vengeful element to justice in itself. In justice systems worldwide we see prosecutors requesting higher sentencing for defendants. In the famous South African case of athlete Oscar Pistorius, he was handed a 5 year sentence for the “culpable homicide” killing of his girlfriend of which he only served 10 months and was then released to house arrest. Prosecutors went back to appeal the sentence and overturned the “culpable homicide” charge to “murder”. He was again, only sentenced to six years. The prosecution again went to appeal the sentence and got it increased to 15 years.

The family of the victim welcomed the decision as they confirmed that their “faith in the justice system” had been restored. Clearly this would indicate that their form of justice contains the same vengeful aspect as Pain’s. They are suggesting that the person responsible for the conflict in the situation (Oscar Pistorius) must feel as large an amount of pain as possible in order for them to feel as if they have received justice.

Can we blame people who feel that this is justice to them? Would you be ok with the sentencing of 5 years in prison for the person who “recklessly” killed his girlfriend, if said girlfriend was your daughter, or sister or aunt or niece? Would it be wrong to say that your desire to see a longer prison sentence is not motivated by a separate desire to have the perpetrator feel a comparable amount of pain to what you’d be feeling in that moment?

Pain’s solution to the question of justice (which leads to peace), is to inflict pain on the individual/entity responsible for conflict. This pain will lead to swift conflict resolution for fear of more pain being sustained. This will eventually lead to peace. However, eventually this fear of never wanting to feel such pain again will wear off and someone will cause pain to someone else. The cycle must then restart with an act of inflicting pain that leads to conflict resolution as well as the fear of feeling said pain again, which results in peace.

Of course, it must be said that Pain’s solution is seriously flawed. The very fact that the cycle has to be repeated is a flaw in its own right. If humanity has to repeatedly have huge pain inflicted on it to deter it from causing conflict, then quite clearly this solution isn’t a great deterrent. Even so, Pain does understand and recognize the holes in his solution. This is evidenced in the fact that he is willing to listen to solutions others may have.

I’ve had some deep thoughts about justice, and have regularly put these thoughts into action via discussions and conversations surrounding the topic. The general conclusions I’ve come to have been that justice, when it can, must attempt to put all parties in as close to a position as possible that they were in before the conflict arose. Where this isn’t possible, it needs to be about making the perpetrator understand what was wrong with his/her behaviour and how to avoid repeating it. It should also serve as a warning so as to put people off repeating that same behaviour that caused conflict.

So Naruto made me think and learn more and find out what justice means to me. My own personal definition of justice is about restitution to the victim, retraining/educating the perpetrator in order to protect society from future perpetrators. Justice should also be preventative, in that it should also deter people from wanting to get on its wrong side.

Those are my thoughts on justice on a societal level, and what I believe our justice systems should be based on. On a personal level, my thoughts on justice are largely similar. However, I put more emphasis on certain aspects in my definition of justice than others. If a friend of mine wrongs me, as long as no tangible/physical/monetary damage has been done- restitution isn’t as big an issue. The retraining/educating part is the most important as that will lead to the final requirement for justice to be met- the preventative side. Once my friend knows and understands which actions of his/her causes conflict, if justice has prevailed, one can assume he’d do everything in his power to make sure it doesn’t take place again.

What is justice? What does justice mean to you?

Contributors / Craig Debrah

Degenerate Art in Nazi Germany

Tristan MacHale presents a historical survey of Degenerate Art in Nazi Germany.

“Entartete Kunst”

Degenerate Art in Nazi Germany.

The proliferation of the term ‘propaganda’ proves the potential power of art in society. Whether labeled propaganda, political art, or protest art, the underlying vein is its influence on the public. There have been few political systems in history that prioritized propaganda more than did Nazi Germany. Perhaps Hitler’s aspirations for art school allowed him to fully appreciate the strategic potential of an effective propaganda campaign. This manifested in massive construction projects and strong, beautiful (and Aryan) men and women in painting and sculpture, all classically inspired. Nazi Germany, the antithesis of a democracy, explicitly delineated what fit within the canon of Nazi art, and what did not, and this distinction forcibly permeated throughout the nation. Nazi propaganda thrived on the dehumanization of non-ideal, non-German culture, and contemporary art was certainly within Nazi sight. Labeled ‘Degenerate Art’, or Entartete Kunst, the non-canonical art produced within the Nazi regime was not censored or subdued as might be expected, but rather showcased in a state organized exhibition for all of Germany to see. As Joseph Goebbels said on the opening day of the exhibition, “German Volk, come and judge for yourselves!”

Goebbels views the Degenerate Art exhibition

Unsurprisingly, the Degenerate Art exhibit was not conducted to support modernist artists of the time. The entire project was a strategic play to further cement in the minds of the German Volk what constituted as German culture, and what was considered Degenerate.

The Degenerate Art Exhibit which opened in Munich on July 8, 1937 and displayed a wide array of modernist and avant garde artworks, served as a counterexhibit to the Great German Art Exhibition, Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung. The two exhibits were eachperverted reflections of each other. The artworks displayed in the Degenerate exhibit were described as “sullied reflections of the same generic images the Nazis sanctify as subjects for ‘Great German Art’: farmers, soldiers, mothers, and landscapes”¹. Goebbels and the Nazi exhibition organizers curated this production for this exact purpose: to manufacture a cultural juxtaposition.

Visitors study the Degenerate Art exhibition.

The entire Degenerate Art Exhibit consisted of 650 individual pieces of sculpture and painting by German artists (with a few other European exceptions). The pieces were seized from museums and galleries from around the country by order of the government. It took less than one month for the entire exhibition to be erected, and the exhibition’s curation was fitting with this rushed job. The paintings, labeled with plaques misidentifying the works, overcrowded the walls. Red stickers posted under many of the artworks featured captions stating that they were funded by the German Volk, a message intended to shock German citizens by suggesting that their taxes financed the works on view. Despite the apparent curatorial flaws of the Degenerate exhibit, every decision was meticulously and strategically executed. By giving the public direct access to the artwork that fundamentally opposed the Nazi ideals, Goebbels not only invited the people to ‘judge for themselves,’ but also carefully constructed the public perception he desired. The haphazard presentation and faulty identifications led the public to see nothing but the nonsensical work of degenerates, or art-bolsheviks.

https://graphics8.nytimes.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000002764882

Moreover, much of the work was auctioned off following the exhibit, which suggests hosting the exhibit maintained some political value. Like much of Hitler’s ideology on racial and national contamination, the Degenerate Art (or ‘Jewified’ or Bolshevik) served to produce a common enemy; opposition to Germany’s dominance. In displaying the modernist artworks, the curators were actually displaying the “symptomatic product of a contaminated political past.” Central to Hitler’s mantra of a national ‘rebirth’ was the identification of a burdened past. The juxtaposition of the Degenerate and the Great German arts polarized the “arts of those days and the art of our days.” German ‘rebirth’ required a cultural collapse from which  to recuperate.

In acquiring the exhibit’s content, the Nazis had particular criteria to meet. They needed to find works whose interpretations they could manipulate. The vast majority of the works displayed were Expressionist. Of the represented artists, the more recognizable names on the roster included; Otto Dix, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Piet Mondrian, and Emil Nolde — essentially a list of the most impactful Expressionist artists of the modern era.Some of these artists were German Expressionists, which further complicated matters, as  many wondered if Expressionism would become the National Socialist revolutionary art. Goebbels himself had owned and displayed in his home Emil Nolde’s and Kathe Kollwitz’s work. While a neoclassical style was chosen instead, German Expressionism’s potential role in representing the movement explained the overwhelming presence of expressionism in the exhibit. However, German Expressionism was a direct product of the Weimar Republic — a history that the Nazis tried diligently to erase from their past.

Tellingly, the absence of John Heartfield from the Degenerate Art Exhibit was one of the greatest indicators of the Nazis intentions for the show. John Heartfield, whose work regularly appeared in magazines, such as AIZ, which explicitly opposed Nazism, was a graphic designer and photo-montage artist appropriately identified with Degenerate artists. With works widely circulated and featured in shows throughout Germany, Heartfield would not have been overlooked. Even in his shows, he would always insist that work be printed and made available in an attempt to emphasize that art resided in the message, rather than within the material image.

A few possible reasons may help understand his absence from the show: His work was explicitly combative against Hitler, it was designed to be machine reproducible, and he primarily worked with photographs — a medium understood at the time to be a means of documentation as opposed to an artistic medium. Heartfield’s  photomontages were simply too explicit in their delivery. His work left was no room for misinterpretation, and consequently the Nazis could not manipulate the reception of the montages. Moreover, his artwork were inexpensive and readily reproducible. The red dots indicating prices of the degenerate art works would hold no weight on a photomontage designed to be inexpensively reproduced.

In total, the exhibit received 2,009,899 visitors. While no documented accounts of the exhibits’ receptions exist, the enterprise’s goal was not to elicit good press. Goebbels was less interested in publicizing the Degenerates’ work and more interested in the prioritizing the “spectacle made by the constant stream of visitors.” Today, the names of German Expressionists Kandinsky, Kirchner, and Dix live on, and are more widely recognized than the Nazi-favored German neoclassicists Ziegler, Breker, and Thorak. The German Expressionists and the other ‘Degenerates’ created the visual aesthetic that defined the counter political climate within Nazi Germany that cemented their political disdain onto the world stage of 20th century art and cemented their presence in global history.


¹Neil Levi, Modernist Form and the Myth of Jewification, (New York: Fordham University Press, 2014) 56.

Contributors / Tristan MacHale / Instagram

Blockchain: The New Economy For Artists

Jason Bailey instructs emerging artists on how best to leverage new blockchain technologies.

The New Economy for Artists

How to Leverage Blockchain

The trope of the “starving artist” exists for a reason, we never hear of the “starving doctor” or the “starving lawyer”.  Yet given free time, many of us choose to spend it consuming the work of artists, by going to museums, grabbing a book, or heading to a concert.  Institutions for publishing and managing distribution of artist’s work can provide a valuable service. However, these same institutions are too often complicit in a system which turns just a tiny number of artists, writers, and musicians into superstars, leaving the majority of creatives with little to no options to fund their craft or make a living.

What can we do about it?   

What if dozens of markets emerged for artists and patrons that took zero commission from transactions? What if those markets were built on decentralized databases that kept a public record of participants and transactions and could easily facilitate “peer to peer” style payment for art using cryptocurrency?

Imagine a world where engineers quit their six figure jobs to build out these databases and then fought for the attention of artists because they needed art to fill these databases and to fuel these new markets? What if this caused the world’s first artist shortage?

Would this new demand for “artists” inspire people who never thought of themselves as “creative” to build their own artistic skills to get in on the action?  

 

Enter: Blockchain

 

What is Blockchain and Blockchain art?

You have likely heard of CryptoKitties or Bitcoin, but terms like “blockchain” and “blockchain art” still haven’t fully percolated through public consciousness. For an initial dive, we’ve put together this video:

If you’re interested in the nuts & bolts of these ideas, check out The Blockchain Art Market is here and An Artist’s Guide to the Blockchain.

How do I get involved with blockchain?

  1. Dada.nyc

Dada.nyc is a social network where people speak through drawings that you can collect on the Ethereum blockchain. So far, thousands of artists have participated in creating tens of thousands of drawings. The website includes digital drawing tools, and the community encourages people of all skill levels to participate. Additionally, some of the art is also available for sale via the blockchain which helps keep the project going and supports the artists.

Artwork from the artist Moxarra. Via Dada.NYC

Who buys this work? People like me who are more concerned with supporting the arts and artists than we are in turning a profit. I placed my first CryptoArt purchase at Dada.nyc for this funky character below by the artist Moxarra, for which I paid less than $20. Because the artwork was digital and purchased on the blockchain, there were none of the costs typically associated with commissions, shipping, and framing. Thus, I can knowingly invest the money that would be spent on those services into more art and artists. And because I spend at least 100x more time looking at screens than the walls of my home, I can look at my new art whenever I feel like it. But buying/owning the art is just part of the experience at Dada.nyc.

This is a great way to get your feet wet.

If you’re interested, you can watch the founder, Beatriz Helena Ramos, presenting at the Digital Rare Art Festival to get a better idea of the platform and the spirit of the community.

  1. Curio Cards

Perhaps you don’t want to use Dada.nyc’s digital tools to create your art. Travis Uhrig, CEO from Curio Cards has you covered. Uhrig believes artists shouldn’t need to own or even understand cryptocurrency in order to participate in the blockchain art market. Curio Cards was thus created to provide a platform in which anyone can participate.

So far, the project is doing phenomenally well, with over one thousand cards sold and artists making on average $300 – $900, according to Uhrig. Any artist can submit their work for free to be voted on at community.curio.cards.

Example of a Curio Card

In Uhrig’s words, “Crypto needs artists, is my sense. Everyone always says that bitcoin is too complicated to explain to people, but you’ll look at subcultures — hip hop, hipster — all these different groups, they have very complex rules of engagement, very complex rules of etiquette, and not everyone understands them — and it’s just fine because musicians and artists and writers and reporters have explained them to us. I think that’s what Bitcoin needs. It needs artists to help explain the culture and help define it. So I really liked the idea of creating a project that can get people that don’t have any Bitcoin, don’t have Ethereum, don’t know anything about it, but they’re really talented, and it’s a way for them to get involved.”

 

  1. Slothicorn

While it may be easy for a collector to part with money for a masterpiece from a trained artist, who will provide the incentives to artists that quite honestly just are not that good yet?

Slothicorn provides place to start for people who are just starting out so that they can 1) Build their art skills 2) Learn about cryptocurrency. In founder Stellabelle’s words, “Slothicorn is really a creative commons cryptoart community where we create art in Steemit that other people can use for their blogs.” There are only 2 rules: First, you must put a creative commons license at the end of your post, and second, the topic of the meme has to be related to cryptocurrency.  

These are just three of the many platforms emerging for artists on the blockchain. Other groups like Archetype.mx are working on solutions to make it possible for you to tokenize your own work and market it however you like. The sky is really the limit, and though it can seem a bit overwhelming, it is the art itself and the relationships you will build with this community that matter most.

A wild Slothicorn
Contributors / Jason Bailey / Website / Instagram