LACMA Is Inviting Digital Artists to Put Tech-Powered Spins on Works in Its Collection as Part of a New Blockchain Initiative

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Digital art is having quite the season at the L.A. County Museum of Art. After establishing a digital art acquisition fund last year and recently acquiring a cache of NFTs from collector Cozomo de’ Medici, the museum has now unleashed a new project to further its engagement with the blockchain.

Created in partnership with blockchain consultancy Cactoid Labs, the initiative, called Remembrance of Things Future, invites leading digital artists to create work that reinterprets objects and artworks in the museum’s permanent collection. These new works will be minted and released for sale on the blockchain in phases beginning March 8, each in a limited edition of 100.

“Remembrance of Things Future continues a tradition of inviting contemporary artists to make editions and multiples that support the museum,” Erin Wright, LACMA’s director of artist initiatives, told Artnet News. “As an encyclopedic museum with nearly 149,000 objects in our collection, it is always exciting to invite artists to mine the histories, cultures, and geographies of our vast holdings and see what they are drawn to use in their own work.”

The initiative’s first cohort features artists Monica Rizzolli, Ix Shells, Jen Stark, Emily Xie, and Sarah Zucker, who have deployed a range of technologies—from generative algorithms to video synthesizers—to create their pieces.

Monica Rizzolli, (2023). Photo: © Monica Rizzolli.

Rizzolli, best known for her Fragments of an Infinite Field collection on Art Blocks, opted to respond to Hokusai’s 1833–34 series “A Tour of Japanese Waterfalls.” Using creative JavaScript coding, she has abstracted the elements in the ukiyo-e artist’s paintings, transforming his expressive landscapes into an eerie idyll she’s titled A Tour of Hypothetical Waterfalls

“The use of geometric and floral patterns in these 17th-century woodcuts present exciting possibilities for generative art,” said Rizzolli, adding that her final piece represents just “one of the outcomes that my code is capable of generating. It’s a magical and sublime process.”

Ix Shells, (still) (2023). Photo: © ItzelYard

Like Rizzolli, Ix Shells (or Itzel Yard) picked a nature-based image to work off, namely, a 1851 albumen and salt print of a leafy branch. Her reimagining of the photograph draws a parallel between the hands-on contact printing process that produced the early image, and her own use of TouchDesigner, an interactive node in visual programming language—producing digital resonances to a botanical prompt. 

“In my own practice,” added the artist, whose oeuvre favors abstract and fractal geometry, “I have a strong dialogue between nature and its juxtaposition to the inorganic digital realm where my creations live.”

Emily Xie, (2023). Photo: © Emily Xie.

Two artists, Jen Stark and Emily Xie, have found inspiration in two quilts in LACMA’s costume and textile holdings, and created ravishingly geometric works in response. Xie, in particular, logged how quilting and generative art share similar approaches to pattern-making: “Quilts reflect a core aspect of generative art in that there’s a compelling tension between the computational and the organic.” 

Also in dialogue with history is Sarah Zucker’s , a digital animation that puts a psychedelic, hypnotic spin on German painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Two Dancers (1932). 

“German Expressionism has had a huge impact on the development of my own visual language,” said Zucker. “I love that the dancers’ individual identities are ambiguous, in the process of merging, and defined solely through the dance they do together.”

Sarah Zucker, (2023). Photo: © Sarah Zucker.

A percentage of proceeds from Remembrance of Things Future will support LACMA’s Art + Technology Lab, which offers grants to artists experimenting with new technologies.

“Beginning with the advent of our Art + Technology Lab in the 1960s, LACMA has been eager to explore new technologies with artists,” said Wright. “The blockchain initiative is a natural extension of that interest and we have found committed partners, supporters, and collaborators to help build our knowledge and understanding of what’s possible in this realm.”

Upcoming releases from Remembrance of Things Future, as teased by Cactoid Labs, will include works by the starry likes of Tyler Hobbs, 0xDEAFBEEF, and William Mapan.

To mark the launch of the initiative, LACMA’s Stark Bar will be displayed with existing works by Rizzolli, Shells, Stark, Xie, and Zucker, in a show curated by Cactoid Labs. The exhibition coincides with “Coded: Art Enters the Computer Age,” the museum’s survey of the history of computer art, open through July 2.

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