Motion, impact, beauty, all these things I’ve talked about at Length many times before. But looking at Unrealcity’s work brings these feelings back. Cryptoart is full of second-hand images. Or so it might seem. Art is far more complex than just saying this or that is not original, for Unrealcity the process is contained, careful and executed in a way that benefits the art, the platform (gallery) and the artist. Thought is all it takes to make an existing image and turn it into new and beautiful art. Should I feel slightly worried about having writing a profile for an English teacher by trade? Yes I should, but I’m sure a grade is incoming. Further, I’m certain that this will all be spell checked. For a Dyslexic who got a D in GCSE English, I’m doing ok.
But what of the art: that’s what we are here for, is it not? With the use of AI augmented images, Unrealcity achieves something. The main achievement here is something unique, presented in a way that hasn’t been done before. “These images speak,” is a simple way of putting the fact that Unrealcity uses references that simply aren’t used elsewhere. A visual language that hasn’t been seen, a set of refences unique to his mind and experience. This visual language has inspired some artists in the space to own his work. Collectors of Unrealcity are diverse, including both ends of politics and those deeply entrenched in the eth community.
The choice of images to start with is the one of the main aspects of cyptoart as it stands. Simply put, it is the references that you start with that make the final image the art work that it is. In his more recent artwork with the model Sarai Adams, Unrealcity shows us his ability to compile multiple layers into a moving image that possess all the qualities of a processed image produced by others in the market.
Visual language is the key here and Unrealcity, whether knowingly or not, possess something special. A language that speaks to the experience of those around him in a way that can be heard. Donating 10% of all his work to charity, not only is there an ethereal language but also an direct one. Showing both words and action. But enough from me, let’s hear from the man himself:
To own Unrealcitys artwork head HERE
- What is your background and how did you get into cryptoart?
I’m not a visual artist by sensibility or training. My academic background is in Philosophy, my professional background is literary: I teach English, Media Studies and Classical Civilizations for a living, I work for a charity that links teachers to writers and lecturers, I’ve published poems and short stories and I’m working on a novel. Words are my homeland, but pictures are a nice place to visit. My interest in cryptoart began with the idea that playing around with pictures might be a nice amuse bouche between literary courses. My friend Sparrow, who goes by @BlackBoxDotArt in this space, has always been a visual artist but when I first met her she wasn’t taking her talent seriously. She grew to do so as I took an interest in it and as her abilities evolved from painting to encaustic to digital art, so did my fascination. It’s Sparrow who got me into this.
- What artists inspire you most?
In cryptoart, @AlottaMoney, @BlackBoxDotArt, @Gala_Mirissa, @pastelcrypto and @Crypto_Yuna are all influences for different reasons. Artists in the physical space that mean something to me seem to fall into two categories in my head: verbal and visual. The verbal ones are conceptual or abstract, not in terms of presentation but in terms of inspiration: people like Blake, Gormley, Magritte. Visual artists generate art from line, colour and shape rather than verbal ideas: people like Picasso, O’Keefe, Krasner and Pollock. I also really like Renaissance and medieval religious art, and I more or less worship Bosch.
- Why do you create digital art?
In digital art, I found a creative immediacy that rhymed with the way I think and the way I like to work creatively: brief, intense episodes where I’m engaged by an idea that I can’t be free of until I crystallize it into something enduring, until I take it out of my head and put it in the world.
- What is your process of creation?
Well, I have no formal training and although I think I can draw, that’s a very raw ability that I intend to refine. For that reason, and because in everything I do creatively I’m allusive and intertextual and aware of the tradition, my method tends towards bricolage. Originality as an admirable quality in art is quite a new idea: the birth of the Modern Era was also the Renaissance, a rebirth of the ancient. Shakespeare’s Henry IVth spoke about committing the “oldest sins the newest kinds of ways” and I suppose that’s as good a description of what I do as any. Either that, or some darker postmodern view like building from the ruins.
In practical terms, I start with an image: either something I’ve found in the public domain or a photograph that I took or that was given to me. The pictures that engaged me at first were all views of London, which is one of the reasons I’m called Unrealcity. I add to these base images and alter them using AI augmentation and animation, making the familiar unfamiliar. I also use Artbreeder to “cross” two images and edit the “genes” of the resulting offspring, glitching techniques, double exposure tricks and image manipulation apps of various kinds. For example, my piece “No Really, I’m Fine” https://www.blockchainartexchange.co.uk/product/no-really-im-fine/ started with a photo I took of the South Bank which I ran through an AI algorithm, then I added an unaltered photo of telephone box I “posed” for the purpose and a free to use image of a screaming man by Alex Ilmy. Then I animated the whole thing.
- Is there any meaning you want to get across with your artwork?
The poet Archibald MacLeish said, “A poem shouldn’t mean / But be”. There is always an idea, a feeling, a perspective that informs my pictures but I think if they have meaning, it’s in them, not behind them. I do look for my pictures rather than find them, but I want other people to look for things in them. If I had an idea I could just tell you about, I would have written an essay rather than made an artwork.
- How has crypto art impacted your life?
I find myself regarding the mundane and seeing the potential, not the actual. I also really value that thing called a flow state, where hours fly by because you’re totally engaged with something: the aesthetic, the opposite of the anaesthetic. Plus I like the dopamine hit of making things, the community is great and it pays for my petrol!
- Any advice for people thinking about joining in crypto art?
Make what you want to make. Then if it doesn’t sell or nobody likes it, you still made what you wanted to make. Let other people make whatever they want to make, and if you don’t like it, don’t look at it. And visit https://github.com/CryptoArtSchool/CryptoArtSchool.github.io , which I both contribute to and learn a lot from!