By VICTOR SLEDGE, March 2023
After exhibiting at W1 Curates in London in collaboration with Xumiiro Gallery, a collection of art generated by artificial intelligence sold for a seven-figure price. To the digital art world, this purchase is monumental. As art generated by artificial intelligence and other digital means is steadily taking up more and more space in the art world, there are questions about how much merit digital art should receive. However, with Tassapon Bijleveld, the largest shareholder of Asian Aviation, collecting the artist’s work, this purchase proves just how sought after and valuable AI art is right now.
Ironically, the audio-visual artist 0010x0010, who created the collection, is actually unconcerned about how the art world at large chooses to legitimize his work or if they choose to do so at all. The commercial aspect of his work, to him, seems to be a concern of the art world, and it bears no weight on him or his art-making. As an artist, you don’t have to worry about such things when you’ve already created the lane you’re in and legitimized it yourself the way 0010x0010 has.
As a creative who started out pursuing a music career after landing his first record deal at 18, 0010x0010 knows about the trap of commerciality. While 0010x0010 has always been a gifted techno/dance artist (genres that are experimental by nature) he soon realized that the music industry was not always welcoming to the autonomy that experimentation brings, especially within those genres.
“I realized that you’re no longer in control of who you are, who you’re going to be or what you sound like,” 0010x0010 explains. “I figured out that was not for me, so I decided to get out of the contract.”
0010x0010 continued his music outside of that contract, but he also began to lean into visual art-making, which had always been another passion of his. As an artist who is experimental and avant-garde, 0010x0010 found himself working with digital art and artificial intelligence. As he got deeper into those mediums, he soon realized that the parameters he’s constantly looking to escape didn’t have to exist in that space at all.
“In a digital format, you have all the freedom in the world. There are no limits,” he says. “You can create a world that doesn’t exist in the physical.”
As an artist whose work bridges a gap between the digital and the physical, the potential of so-called “AI art” allows 0010x0010 to push his audiences to experience places, feelings or thoughts in ways they haven’t before.
“Having people look into that world and experience how you see, how you feel in a limitless fantasy world is something very powerful,” 0010x0010 says.
0010x0010 understands that working at the intersection of technology and art means that all audiences won’t necessarily know what to think or feel. It’s a new frontier that people are still charting. With that in mind, he sometimes further helps reconcile the digital and physical in his art by creating a physical artistic stepping stone that helps boost audiences into better understanding the digital art.
With his digital stills, in some cases, he has brought them into the physical world by printing them and turning them into mixed media pieces by painting them. Another example is placing a video installation in a spacial audio setting to create a more physical experience for the audience. The physical pieces act as a sort of map or guide to navigate audiences into the digital work.
Once audiences make peace with the format in which 0010x0010’s art lives, there is another layer to understand just how intimately they are able to see into 0010x0010’s heart and mind through his AI art.
While critics of AI art have clung to the idea that the art form is devoid of humanity or emotion, 0010x0010 is consistently producing art that is driven by these very elements.
0010x0010 is quite open about his experiences with bipolarism and the intricacies of mental health. Through his work, he lets audiences experience these inexplicable moments alongside him. A fan of Van Gogh, whose mental health was integral to understanding his work, 0010x0010 understands that in physical art, you can begin to create when you’re in the heat of the moment with whatever mental state you may be in, but in the time it takes for paint to dry, you could leave that moment and the piece is no longer what it could have been.
“With AI or digital art, you can go from zero to a thousand in an hour,” he says. “I can just sit down and let myself go anywhere I want to.”
0010x0010’s work with AI helps him navigate, coalesce, and express his mental health experiences in new ways by reframing how he inputs information into the AI in order to generate the kind of visual feedback he is looking for, in essence using it, as he describes, as self-therapy. In this way, 0010x0010 believes that AI is much more humanizing than critics give it credit for. To 0010x0010, you get as much humanity out of AI and digital art as you put into it.
“Where it turns into your personal art is when you put yourself into it,” he explains. “The more rare or personal things you put into it, the more you see these things coming out.”
0010x0010 may make art with artificial intelligence, but there’s nothing artificial about the spirit or frameworks with which he is creating, sometimes even creating while in the depths of an anxiety attack or a manic episode. Using AI, he’s able to manifest things visually that he’s only ever felt before.
“I started to dig deep in my mind and soul, and I saw digital feedback of the feelings I’ve had that I’ve been walking around with for years,” he remembers. “It helped a lot for me to connect many dots in a bigger perspective.”
In some cases, 0010x0010 even works himself into these strained mental states. And to him, those are the most successful pieces. As someone with a high artistic output that lets his thoughts and feelings fuel his digital art, he recognizes that there is a risk in pushing himself too far, but he also trusts his art to see him through and believes in the value of what his viewers will find when he creates in that space.
“Sometimes I go too far and don’t hold myself back. So creating something ends up in an anxiety attack,” he says. “I ask myself if it’s worth it to do that, but then the answer is always if it’s worth it to hold back.”
With an approach like that, it’s not difficult to see why the commerciality of his work isn’t what 0010x0010 prioritizes. Now using his art in tangent with his music, along with the intersection of mental health and the avant-garde with AI and digital work, 0010x0010 embraces his art in a space all his own.
With a strong commitment to his artistic drive, free from worries of commercialization, 0010x0010 has positioned himself to be a digital artist that is trailblazing AI in the art world, pushing boundaries or avoiding them altogether.
Victor Sledge is an Atlanta-based writer with experience in journalism, academic, creative, and business writing. He has a B.A. in English with a concentration in British/American Cultures and a minor in Journalism from Georgia State University. Victor was an Arts & Living reporter for Georgia State’s newspaper, The Signal, which is the largest university newspaper in Georgia. He spent a year abroad studying English at Northumbria University in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK, where he served as an editor for their creative magazine before returning to the U.S. as the Communications Ambassador for Georgia State’s African American Male Initiative. He is now a master’s student in Georgia State’s Africana Studies Program, and his research interest is Black representation in media, particularly for Black Americans and Britons. His undergraduate thesis, Black on Black Representation: How to Represent Black Characters in Media, explores the same topic.