Whitehot Magazine

GEN.ART: Blurring the Lines of the Physical and the Digital

Immutable, GEN.ART x Vellum LA. Courtesy @stassievee.

By VICTOR SLEDGE, August 2022

“This is the breaking down of the physical versus the digital,” says GEN.ART founder Adam. “There is no blurred line anymore. It’s all just one.”

If there’s no blurred line between the physical and the digital, in terms of art or otherwise, it’s because of people like Adam and innovative organizations like GEN.ART, one of the leading generative art platforms.  

Adam was always a creative person, interested in art and the business surrounding it. He eventually got involved with a tech start-up based around art, which exposed him further to the business side and the issues that existed within it. Working at the start-up, seeing how art and technology are often one in the same, Adam saw potential to further that relationship and push the art world further. 

“It was this beautiful confluence of events,” Adam explains. “I started thinking about where all of this could evolve.”  

He eventually took that experience and curiosity and founded GEN.ART. It is a platform dedicated to generative art that not only blurs the lines of the physical and the digital but also the artist and the collector, creativity and business, and ownership and collectivism.

The exclusive platform, which now boasts a membership of over 5,000 artists, collectors and professionals across the globe, helps artists release their work on the blockchain, while also changing the ways in which people buy and sell art.  

Adam also created GEN.ART, in part, to solve age-old problems in the buying and selling of art. 

“Whenever you come from the traditional art world, one of the things you struggle with is understanding provenance,” Adam explains. “The blockchain is all based on provenance. If an artist created a specific piece of art, it’s 100% verifiable. There’s never going to be any question.”

Immutable, GEN.ART x Vellum LA. Courtesy @stassievee.

Even in the basic process of purchasing digital art, Adam has created a system that ensures only members who are truly invested in the art for art’s sake are able to buy pieces through GEN.ART, which helps both collectors and artists. 

“I had this vision where people didn’t need to wake up at 4am because that’s what time an artist has scheduled a drop,” he explains. “They could wait until a Friday night, open a bottle of wine, and listen to our podcast episode about the artist.”

Through a more personable process, Adam envisioned that collectors would have more of a memorable, intimate experience buying digital art. He hoped this would then benefit both the collectors, who now own their own unique piece of digital art, as well as the artists, who can avoid having their art bought and sold on the secondary market by buyers who are only interested in the art for financial gain.

Artists like Alexander Reben, who was featured in GEN.ART’s first physical exhibition, Immutable, this past June at Vellum LA, can appreciate that aspect of GEN.ART.

“Now more than ever,” Reben says, “there’s a need for curation and critique of what’s going on in this space because people have been so motivated by capital versus culture.” 

Reben is an artist that fully encompasses the continuous blending of art and technology. As a roboticist trained at MIT and an artist that explores humor, absurdity, play and prototyping, amongst other themes, Reben’s work dissects the relationship between humanity and the artificial.  

For Reben, who’s been working at the concurrence of technology and art for over a decade, organizations like GEN.ART and exhibitions like Immutable that push the longstanding relationship between technology and art forward are a natural progression. GEN.ART facilitates that progression in a way that is constantly putting the art, artists and collectors first.

That attention to artists, collectors, and their mutual relationship is an element that was built into the DNA of GEN.ART. Adam took that mutually beneficial relationship even further by making GEN.ART a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). 

Structuring GEN.ART as a DAO means that each member has a say in the future direction of GEN.ART. This structure has essentially made GEN.ART a self-regulating, self-perpetuating organization where art-lovers are able to contribute their expertise, whatever that may be, to lubricating this well-oiled machine in a way that benefits everyone involved. 

“GEN.ART being a DAO is an incredibly important part of people feeling a part of something that is greater than themselves,” Adam says. 

It’s these constant decisions to fuel the sense of community and collaboration within GEN.ART that really breathes life into the organization and its mission.

Recently, GEN.ART teamed up with NFT-backed digital art gallery Vellum LA to bring their latest exhibit to life. Vellum LA brings brick and mortar to screens and algorithms. As forerunners among galleries, creating a space that prioritizes digital art with Luma Canvas display screens, which are as well suited to digital art as any canvas is to physical art, Vellum LA was the perfect gallery for Immutable. 

“They understand the NFT world, how you want to convey the art and how to tell the story,” Adam says.

Vellum LA’s mission is to help situate digital art in the larger context of art history. 

“We are pleased to be partnering with GEN.ART on this important residency that not only champions the work of prominent generative artists within the space but also gives our LA community a glimpse into the iconic collections of some of the top NFT collectors that have been investing in and supporting digital artists since day one,” says Vellum Director & Curator Sinziana Velicescu.

Vellum LA also aims to serve as a gallery that educates the public on the potential impact digital art, such as NFTs, can have on the future of art. That’s something that Vellum LA and Notion have in common. 

Immutable, GEN.ART x Vellum LA. Courtesy @stassievee.

“My hope for the next year or two is just education so that people start to understand what is so special about NFTs and generative art,” Adam explains.

GEN.ART aims to bridge the gap between digital art, digital artists and digital art collectors and those who have, so far, been more engulfed in the more traditional side of the art world. 

To artists like Reben, though, that gap shouldn’t be too large.

“A lot of people view technology as separate from humanity,” Reben says. “But to me, technology is humanity.” 

Organizations like GEN.ART, galleries like Vellum LA, and artists like Reben are proving this point. As humans have pushed both art and technology forward in ways that are integral to how we live and have lived throughout time, it makes sense to think of technology as a living, breathing being like ourselves.  

“Things like AI, genetic algorithms, and generative art are all a part of that continuum of technology that follows humanity.” Reben explains. 

It also makes sense that technology is at the forefront of artistic exploration right now. In fact, as Reben explains, it has always been at the forefront throughout art history.

“If you go back far enough,” Reben explains, “everything used to make art was once a technology. Oil paint was the bleeding edge of technology at some point.”

With that point in mind, you realize that the art in Immutable or any of the other art galleries like Vellum LA displays are less of a leap across a river, and more of the next brick being laid for a bridge that’s been in progress since the beginning of time.  

“It’s all a matter of perspective and time,” Reben says.  

And at this time, GEN.ART is pushing the envelope further, continuing to build that bridge with new ideas and a bustling community, continuously furthering art and its culture as countless minds and artists have done throughout history to bring us into new eras of art.

To learn more about GEN.ART, please visit their website here: https://gen.art/ 

To learn more about Vellum LA, please visit their website here: https://www.vellumla.com/ 

To learn more about Alexander Reben, please visit his website here: http://areben.com/ WM

Victor Sledge

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. 

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