Jæn is a decades-long professional artist, exhibiting worldwide, from the giant screens of Time Square to the International Space Station (yes, actual space).
Can you tell us about the project you're currently working on? What inspired you to make it, how are you making it, what do you hope it achieves?
Currently, I'm working on two different projects - the Timechain and a triptych.
The Timechain is a project about legacy and timelessness in art, literally bridging the Renaissance and the Digital Renaissance to the Future Renaissance through iterations of the same designs in stone, engravings and all techniques available today. It is a metaphorical blockchain made of art and time. The series of 18 mascarons is already done and two thirds are minted, now I'm first slowly curating collectors and patrons of the project to make sure I'm going to have people in it for the long term - I mean possibly centuries! You can enjoy the depth of it at https://jaen.art/timechain
The second one is a triptych, started with a piece on the dilution of time in crypto and ensuing burn-outs. The following pieces will be on the grind of our scene, and on success, to make sure all aspects are covered. I'm working on the grind piece, a mix of frame-by-frame animation, AI experimentation, homemade music and more, and it will be a complex one.
Let's dive deeper into a single work, share a work with us and let us know why you love it.
My latest work, the first one of the triptych mentioned above, is called "f l a t". It is both very much a work of blockchain culture, but focused on the human experience and psyche. Symbolized by a character with a tire that has gone flat, it was inspired by burn-outs in the scene, where we usually say so much happens one week here feels like 3 months IRL. The character is experiencing the darkest crash, at the bottom of the ocean, where it actually cannot get worse. When you recognize this phase of your cycle and embrace it, you're not afraid, you're exhausted, but you realize how much you still have and can do (the vibrant corals dancing in the background evoke this) and there's a strange sense of comfort in this darkness - you're already there, there's no more falling, and things are delightfully quiet. Why not enjoy that part, because after that, there's only up.
The process for the background relies on handmade animation with a complex layering of glitches, 4 different layers of corals generated by AI and then reworked by hand, and a layer of dust and bubbles floating up between each of them.
In the front, the character was hand painted, and then I used AI to generate very close copies of it, so it feels like moving but staying still at the same time.
I made the music at the same time as the animation, their own rhythm informing each other until a perfect synchronization emerges, including visual and audio glitches. The rhythmic elements are distorted elements recorded with my mouth.
NFT Magazine has teamed up with the Crypto Mermaids to help more people understand and celebrate cryptoart. We find there is often a technical or cultural barrier to more people appreciating your work. What do you wish more people understood about NFTs, crypto art, or Web3 that would also help your work be properly celebrated?
That tokenized art brings new forms of art, interactivity, playfulness, conceptual work, aesthetics, and ultimately, culture, and that this multi-faceted avant-garde should be celebrated. I'm also coding a bit and doing interactive pieces on top of audiovisual flavours, and find them some of the most interesting new formats to explore, and are not celebrated enough. The same goes for audiovisual works - spaces exhibiting audiovisual works IRL massively ignore the audio part, when it's really half of the work - different solutions exist (directional speakers being the best, but you can also offer headsets or mobile-based solutions, and we also need more touch screens plugged to computers for interactive art). Artists who make their own visuals AND music are underrated.
Tell us about what your creative practice looks like. When do you work, where do you feel inspired etc.
I'm always inspired and never really have creative blocks - I just recognize when it's time to take a break. Inspiration is mainly conceptual or story-driven, either picking interesting stuff from dreams, or very consciously pondering about emotions, philosophy, science, etc. In any case, I'm more of a "mind to art" planned way of making art, rather than "let the art happen from the process."
How and when did you get into NFTs?
In the 10 years of professional art practice before I found NFTs (traditional art, commercial art, academic research, street art, music and so on), my growing use of digital means and the inability to exhibit or sell art without a physical incarnation - a physical excuse! - had grown increasingly frustrating.
In 2020, I discovered the mascarons I mentioned in the Timechain project. I wanted to rework them in the most digital ways, but then to what end? AR prints in a gallery again? Then, a cryptocurrency fiend and friend told me about NFTs and how my work would fit them so well. During my first approach, it was really hard to take in all the new paradigms, from how blockchains work to digital scarcity and why would someone collect what is freely enjoyable by all. But I thought about the mascarons and felt it was the right thing.
By December 2020, I found out about SuperRare and Async Art and was onboarded straight away. After gathering enough information about this whole incredible new world, I decided that for the first time in my life, I didn't need to fully mind-chart everything clearly and that I would learn by doing. I minted my first NFT in January 2021, and never looked back.
How have your views on NFTs evolved since?
Of course, since the end of the art boom of 2021, like all the artists, I had a disillusionment about who were the artists, collectors and curators really in it for the famed "intersection of art and technology", how much market manipulation and wash trading or bidding there had been (same as the traditional art world). When this was digested, there remained an absolute fact - we the artists and art lovers, still make and have the space for truly exploring new forms of art and making it real. You have to find the right people if speculation is not your main focus, they're out there and they're fantastic.
What are your views on "the traditional art world" and how do you relate to it, or not?
So, I was in said traditional art world at least a decade before NFTs. What NFTs improved besides the tech and new possibilities was to make art more geography-agnostic. Navigating the traditional art world is difficult if you're not living in a global art hub or don't have the means to always travel there to network and exhibit. This is something I used to resent, trying to have a proper career there. The other thing is the lack of transparency regarding deals between galleries and artists and how the whole system works, whereas the blockchain is clear and artists in the NFT space talk a lot more freely to each other about everything. Also, there's been an improvement in NFTs about how much the artist keeps VS the middle persons, although I'm in the camp saying it's ok to give a proper share of your work to an agent/gallery/etc. if they do real work for you and help you find new collectors. But now it feels in this space that the artists are more on an equal level as agents/galleries to negotiate.
Finally, there are a few things that are still better in the traditional art world - it has reached parity for sales, whereas in the NFT scene women are massively undervalued, there are a lot more collectors really in it for the art (not over-focusing on speculation) in the traditional art world, and there's a whole pool of seasoned critiques and curators that doesn't exist in NFTs.
What are you doing to endure crypto winter?
Working on new art and techniques, redesigning my website, giving conferences, collaborating and networking. Who said winter was boring?
Decades-long professional artist on SuperRare, Fake Rares, exhibiting all over the world the giant screens of Time Square to the International Space Station (yes, actual space), colorfully exploring an emotional, surreal cryptozeitgeist after having collborated with the likes of Disney or PayPal. Painstaking handmade craft of dreamy flavour now meets frame-by-frame animation, music composition, video editing, glitch art, code and AI hybrids.
Discover the project MindDrawPlay by George Mobius.
"I wish more people understood Web3 = ownership and community."