An Experiment on the Relationship Between Art and Commerce in the Evolving Digital Domain
The Experiment and The Manifesto
Recently, I released an NFT collection called ‘SCREENWEAVERS’ on Tezos, which is an eco-friendly blockchain that I’ve been releasing most of my work since March 2021. This collection laid the groundwork and became the initial experiment for what would become RECYCLED. The rarity and the floor price of each 'SCREENWEAVERS' piece was to be determined by a set of rules that I shared before the start of the release.
The base idea was simple: As each new 'SCREENWEAVERS' piece would become more scarce in editions, the price of each piece would change according to the average sale price of the previous one. Which meant that it would most likely go higher. And it did. But that wasn't the essence of the experiment.
On the surface, it looked like another trading ploy which we all find ourselves in from time to time in one way or another while trying to put value to our art and present it to the world, hoping that it would intrigue collectors, traders, aficionados and the like, enough to make them want to make a purchase where the art by itself fail to do so.
At the root, the experiment was banking on the exact opposite outcome of that aim and was dependent on having as many unsold pieces and editions as possible, made certain by the initial pricing and the enforced time limit on the offers, while still presenting my art for sale to the interested parties as an artist trying to make a living off of his work. This might sound counterintuitive but it was designed to address a deep-seated trouble that I had which was surrounding my creative journey as I would imagine it does many other artists like me. It is the trade-off between art and commerce which historically has always been an existential struggle under which some artists were able to prevail and some were broken. Obviously, I have no reservations about making certain concessions when it comes to selling my art for money, since I am making my living solely out of my creative work. Yet, the purely digital domain of NFT art trading and the unyielding, fast-paced, progressive and volatile nature of the beast did make the experience a little impersonal for me at times. I found myself slowly getting weary of the process from one drop onto the next, carrying expectations that were progressively becoming irrelevant to the art itself, connecting with the audience of the work only through online text messaging of various kinds and feeling accomplished through sales, which started to make the prime objective of my work, tending to look like it was more about selling, as opposed to being about the creative challenges and the personal transformation that the journey itself brings. This is and has been all about the creative challenge of the journey and the progress it brings. And what has been troubling me was also a part of it. So I decided to commit to it in the same fashion.
It goes like this: I put up my work for sale, but in a way that would guarantee that I would end up with unsold material which is conventionally the dreaded outcome. More times resulting in remaining discouragingly in the marketplace indefinitely for prospective buyers or altogether removal of the said material for good. Only this time what is unsold is not what is lost to be found. It is to be recycled along with all the other unsold ones in a special collection with ever-changing waves of artistic challenges in which the materials I use are chosen by those who do not choose to have them in exchange for a certain value. Those "unwanted" "commercial failures" are then crafted into a single edition artwork which is not to be sold but to take its place in the collection "RECYCLED" as a monument to this particular experience of art and commerce that we have together, with you and by you, in this time and space.
HOW IT CAME TO BE:
Evolution of SCREENWEAVERS into RECYCLED
SCREENWEAVERS is a series of hand-crafted pixel animations based on the motion of a single line weaved into a digital latticework in a chronistic manner forming hypnotic, undulating patterns.
The decision to put SCREENWEAVERS as the title of the collection was a very specific choice. My first reference was ‘screensavers’ since the pieces reminded me of the screensavers of the 90s operating systems.
Switching ‘savers’ with ‘weavers’, apart from being a pun, was made to represent the stylistic approach and the manual creation process of the artworks in the collection. My practice was no different than weaving, albeit in digital form.
A contextual reason for the choice of the word 'WEAVERS' in the title, was to imply and hint at the concept of what was to come and this collection's role in it. Weavers, also known as Ploceidae, are a family of birds that create nests of intricately woven vegetation.
“Weavers are named for their elaborately woven nests. The nests vary in size, shape, material used, and construction techniques from species to species. Materials used for building nests include fine leaf fibers, grass, and twigs.”
The act of collecting various materials to build a new structure was a clear reference to what I was set to do in the RECYCLED collection. The fact that 'SCREENWEAVERS' was going to be the first experiment that would kickstart the RECYCLED project solidified the connection and the weaving began.
Each piece of SCREENWEAVERS was created as a standalone artwork that has a different frame rate and length. The only common feature among them is the image resolution and the monochrome color palette.
SCREENWEAVERS_01 - 44 frames, 7 remaining out of 18 editions, 308 frames in total
SCREENWEAVERS_02 - 64 frames, 12 remaining out of 17 editions, 768 frames in total
SCREENWEAVERS_03 - 48 frames, 13 remaining out of 16 editions, 624 frames in total
SCREENWEAVERS_04 - 121 frames, 11 remaining out of 15 editions, 1331 frames in total
SCREENWEAVERS_05 - 36 frames, 9 remaining out of 14 editions, 324 frames in total
SCREENWEAVERS_06 - 36 frames, 10 remaining out of 13 editions, 360 frames in total
SCREENWEAVERS_07 - 32 frames, 8 remaining out of 12 editions, 256 frames in total
SCREENWEAVERS_08 - 66 frames, 8 remaining out of 11 editions, 528 frames in total
SCREENWEAVERS_09 - 66 frames, 6 remaining out of 10 editions, 396 frames in total
After the 24-hour offer period for each piece ended, the uncollected editions became unavailable for further offers and were removed, making the collected ones rarer. In the end, the experiment left me with 84 unsold pieces that consisted of 4895 frames in total. This was going to be the only available material for me to create a RECYCLED piece without any additional brush strokes whatsoever.
RECYCLED-1 Animation Timeline Snippet
The challenge of this creative task coupled with the philosophical implications of the entire process sparked up a fiery connection between my prime objective of art as the creative journey and the reality/necessity of creating a value out of it in order to make a living in everyday life. This new connection was the missing link that I was looking for in my evolution as an artist at this time and space.
Therefore, from now on, for every new drop, there will be a time limit for the purchases or offers. After the expiration of the deadline, every unsold edition of my NFT artworks will go through the same process in changing creative challenges and will then take their place on the mantle as a single edition RECYCLED monument and will never be exchanged for any value. In a way, with every piece sold, every unsold piece will be mirroring them like the relative minor of a major musical scale, representing a different perspective of our relationship. I am very excited to see what kind of fruit our choices will bear.
A huge thanks to Selim Saraçoğlu for accompanying and inspiring me in my journey as an artist and helping me to refine my ideas and texts during the development process. Also, so many thanks to the NFT community for being a constant source of inspiration and support.