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Emerging Artists
March 20, 2023

Boundless Bodies and NFTs

Three digital artists share their visions of a posthuman future with Katherine Howatson-Tout
Credit: Stella Particula, (Still from) Moves, 2021. Courtesy of the artist
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Boundless Bodies and NFTs

Katherine Howatson-Tout: The human body, whether obscured, distorted, or reinvented, is central to all of your practices. Do you feel that you are crafting posthumans?

Tripura: The human body, or its partial representation, is the focus of my work, which seeks to realize immersive habitats that reorient perception, evolution, and metamorphosis. It is as if our body were a large eye and impressions from the future appear on its retina. These are not dreams or a product of the subconscious, but real imprints of the multiple worlds of the future. 

I do not create “posthumans,” I open portals that examine reality where there is no longer a human body. Instead, there is a kind of chimera where the living matter and the landscape are an expansive singular entity.
Tripura, (Still from) Echo, 2022. Courtesy of the artist

Stella Particula: My project, Stella Particula, began with my experience of depression. I avoided its hard reality by creating new visions through which I would travel. In my work, the human body represents a feeling or state of mind drawn from the past, present, or future. But in every image there is a sparkle of hope and light — a projection of survival instinct that guides someone to expect a better future. So yes, I think I’m crafting posthumans: humans that are a projection of the future through their present or past state.

Anna Dart: I have reimagined the human form in various ways to explore the place of emotions and memory in the complex journey of globalization. I find the body to be a powerful symbol for communicating complex ideas and issues, from the human condition to societal norms to climate action. The human form has a unique ability to evoke empathy and understanding, making it an effective means of exploring the realities of our world. As the boundaries between physical and digital realms continue to blur, the depiction of the body in art will be increasingly relevant and important. 

I hope that new technologies encourage authenticity and appreciation of self, body, and the world, instead of negativity and self-obsession.

Entering the metaverse, we are going to face further challenges as a civilization. It is essential to make a statement about what kind of future we look for. Today we have the opportunity to use different mediums to address these possible futures. 

Anna Dart, Hatsuyume, 2022. Courtesy of the artist

KHT: What is the relationship between the body and the digital environment in your work? 

SP: I create the bodies I use in my works in 3D but they are often drawn from the same model, like my avatar. The digital enables me to create something visible but intangible, while my practice also involves glitch in its distortion of vision and light. Despite their digital form, these bodies are sentient while the glitch distorts their emotions. I layer colors and textures so that light illuminates hope.

AD: I’m concerned with how the digital age has diminished our sense of empathy and connection with others and with the earth. My work seeks to evoke emotions that counteract this trend. To this end, Exquisite Workers and myself as a co-founder have collaborated with The Fabricant, a decentralized digital fashion house on the release of World of Women e-fashion. Digital fashion uses technology to enhance the human body and create new forms of self-expression, while also challenging conventional conceptions of beauty. 

The human form as virtual representation questions traditional notions of size, shape, and appearance. 

T: Working with digital media allows me to create a boundless body through 3D animation and modeling. While software liberates me from the constraints of material fabrication such that I am able to create any environment, limited only by my imagination. But given the speed at which the world is developing, no single person can maintain mastery over the full flow of knowledge nor see beyond what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls “the platonic fold.” In my works, I propose a version of reality where, due to some cataclysmic natural disaster, the human species is forced to survive by returning to the womb, where it reintegrates with nature, unpredictably transformed — a global reassembly of corporality.

Stella Particula, (Still from) Energy, 2022. Courtesy of the artist

KHT: You’ve all developed hybrid practices that start with the digital and often involve NFTs. What is your relationship to the different media you deploy?

AD: My use of different media reflects a deep interest in and gratitude for humanity, as well as my excitement about participating in this moment in history. Technology is automating, personalizing, and speeding up all processes, while the art industry is becoming more accessible for those who are open to the digital.

The barriers to entry in the arts are now lower, and the sense of mystery and exclusivity surrounding the art world is slowly dissipating as more people get acquainted with the blockchain and NFTs.

In my work, Fu Mar AI (2022) — where myself from 2012 meets a future self — I combine different media, including watercolor and AI outputs. When machine and human come together, the human makes choices, and the digital tools provide an opportunity for the artist to express a unique story. I hope that accessible no-code tech will be used with both people and the planet in mind, with a focus on preserving our cultural legacies. 

Tripura, (Still from) The mercury in your veins whispers that you’re already dead, 2022. Courtesy of the artist

T: I am currently acclimatizing to the metaverse and have been actively participating in events there. While I understand that the audience for new forms of digital art is still a minority compared to the traditional art world, its community pulses with dynamic expression.

It feels like a new cultural code is being written by this community.

Behind every avatar in the digital world there is a story, an experience, and common code that I wish to interact with and shape.

SP: I regard media as a tool that serves the purpose of a particular piece, and for each work I have to select the media relevant to the message I want to communicate. Media also enables creation through constraints which, for me, are essential to create meaning and structure. This was true for my interactive experience, The Mirror (2022), that I published last year. An NFT is a kind of digital journal that enables the archiving of one’s practice. 

Anna Dart, #12 Award AI, 2022. Courtesy of the artist

KHT: The original Futurists embraced the machine through militaristic rhetoric but in a way that sought to challenge the establishment. What kind of radical futurisms do we need in Web3?

T: The Web3 sphere is quite radical in relation to wider society. After all, the blockchain is a challenge to centralized controls and administration (not to mention taxes), while smart contracts are a provocation to the legal systems they circumvent. DAOs destabilize the socioeconomic status quo and NFT art is a radical challenge to contemporary art institutions. Growing up in Ukraine and Russia I felt I had a radical role in society — I want to provoke transformation. 

SP: In a world that is increasingly obscured by wars and environmental issues, I don’t think we need militaristic rhetoric to question the establishment. I think we need a new language, one of emotions and sensibility, that anyone can comprehend because it touches their heart and mind. 

Posthumanity is about connection, and futurism in Web3 must be about that — comprehension, tolerance, and connection.

AD: In Web3, the fast-paced and ever-changing nature of technology creates pressure for which it is important to prioritize mental health and self-care. To thrive in this space, the artist needs to be a curator, manager, and public speaker. They also need to understand cryptocurrency. Taking on such varied roles can lead to a lack of balance in one’s personal and professional lives. We operate on the global clock and, in Web3, there are no days off, so we need to be kind and respect one another. We must also promote gender equality and amplify the voices of non-binary and female artists. By supporting a diverse and inclusive community, Web3 can foster a culture of creativity and innovation, leading to a more vibrant and dynamic future.

Stella Particula, Rose, 2023. Courtesy of the artist

KHT: Crypto art was founded on the principle of inclusivity. However, in recent years, a new star system has emerged at the cost of those artists who aren’t visible on highest-sales lists. ClubNFT’s discovery tool, Pathfinder, is designed to surface emerging artists in order to preserve a more affordable, and horizontal, NFT market. How do you feel about your work being surfaced by an algorithm, even if that algorithm is driven by the community of collectors? Should we aspire to an affordable marketplace where more people can participate or is a new star system inevitable? 

SP: In this society, star systems are inevitable. But if we aspire to something greater, maybe something is possible. It is important that the marketplace is affordable but I think that the first problem is a technical one: not everyone can participate in Web3 and NFTs because of how difficult it is to understand the tools. An algorithm driven by a community of collectors can be a good way to discover new works and forms of art. I think the most important thing is to experiment and see what works best.

AD: It has never been more important to have a personal brand, especially in Web3 where it helps creators to stand out in a crowded and competitive digital landscape. A personal brand also allows them to communicate a unique vision and aesthetic, which can be a powerful way to connect with an audience. This community in turn provides valuable support and feedback for the artist, helping them to build a sustainable career. Art serves as a powerful tool for fostering understanding and connection across cultural divides and the NFT space is about discovering people and building ecosystems. 

Tripura, (Still from) Warm currents, 2023. Courtesy of the artist
T: The contemporary art system has always relied on selective algorithms, but they are implemented through a chain of specific individuals and institutions. 

Are there opportunities for young artists to “emerge” in the old system? Yes, but on certain conditions. Will the new algorithms in Web3 be inclusive? Perhaps. Will they be able to identify talent and help the artist realize themself? We’ll have to wait and see. What the new system will definitely have, and partially has already, is decentralization and the potential for variation. One limitation of the contemporary art market structure is its concentration in “cultural centers.” This requires the personal presence of the artist as well as additional resources that aren’t available to most creators. 

It’s time to ask ourselves: what does an accessible market look like and who is it accessible to? What I fear most is the forced equalization of opportunity. Recent history knows such systems: the USSR. There, real art could realize itself only through resistance — it was the art of anguish and tragedy. There is nothing more terrible for humanity than standardization. The world of digital art needs leaders and heroes who take responsibility and risks. 

Anna Dart, No Sun, No Name #11, 2023. Courtesy of the artist

KHT: Finally, we’d love to hear about any forthcoming projects you might be working on at the moment.

SP: Right now, I’m working on two drops. The first is strictly digital (NFT) and will be a herbarium of plants, all glitched and picked by hand. The second will be an oracle, available in both physical form, as cards, and as an NFT.

AD: I would like to invite you to discover the Exquisite Workers series, where each artwork is a personal expression of the artist’s unique style and imagination. If you zoom out, you will see that a single piece is part of a much larger, ever-growing “Crypto Exquisite Corpse,” which ties the project back to the work of the Surrealists. I also invite you to explore my new AI arts on Foundation, Objkt, and SuperRare. I have some new releases and shows this year that I cannot share yet, but I can say they are exciting. For my traditional artwork, visit my SINGULART Gallery profile.

T: Following my last exhibition in Dubai, I’m currently prototyping works for huge spherical screens that have a striking effect on the brain and its perception of an image. I have recently applied to do scientific research in this area, working at the intersection of science and art. Through the latest media, I want to increase the affective impact of art on human perception by transforming the mental state and physical experience of the viewer.

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Anna Dart is a multidisciplinary artist, curator, and futurist who focuses on promoting ecological, cultural, and social sustainability through the intersection of new technologies. Her art is known for its minimal style and powerful expressiveness that reflects digital humanism. A guest artist at The Picasso Museum, Barcelona and at The Fabricant, Dart bridges traditional art and the metaverse, finding inspiration in drama, dance, and the architecture of Antoni Gaudí. She has turned her passion for Surrealism into the engine behind collaborative project Exquisite Workers, promoting co-creation, female empowerment, and artistic patronage since 2020. In 2021, Dart curated the first NFT exhibition at the UN. In 2022, she was nominated as the Best Traditional Artist turned NFT Artist at NFT.NYC. In the same year, she won the 1st Claire AI Award, exhibiting at Art Basel Miami, 0x Society, and Seattle NFT Museum. 

Stella Particula (Latin for “Star Dust”) is an art project that began in 2020 as a means of bridging eras and technologies. Emotions are an essential part of the project, since Stella is the avatar of its creator and the incarnation of its sentient being. Through analog and 3D technologies, Stella explores landscapes of duality and the feelings that humans represent.

Tripura is an artist based in Los Angeles who works with 3D motion graphics and video. Her practice considers the relationship between the global human body and the body of nature as well as new forms of life, chimeras, and interpretations of love. She has exhibited globally, including at NowHere, New York; Superchief Gallery, Los Angeles; IPERCUBO, Milan; Art In Space x Project22, Dubai; and CADAF 2022, New York.

Katherine Howatson-Tout is Assistant Editor at Right Click Save.