After getting onto Twitter once I discovered it’s where literally everyone in crypto hangs out – I found out it was like starting over again in terms of social capital. That’s okay, because early days can be fun. Some of my projects with the $based community generated inquiries from other defi projects that wanted cool meme-able graphics. A lot of these projects wanted to offer their token as payment, but honestly that’s kind of a losing game in terms of time investment – at least so far it is. I had a frog ask me about creating some 90’s themed graphics for their project, and I thought to myself: “well, I’ve been avoiding the 90s nostalgia so far – why not?” For someone who was alive through it to see what was hot in the 90’s become stale and flat and boring, and to see people saying things are “great” that were hideous when they were popular is a strange experience. Also, some of the recent graphics movements and trends have been sort of ironic: as in, “I don’t really like this obviously but here’s a look.” I’ve always struggled with irony like that because even if something is silly I want to be all-in on it being something I actually like. So my mission was this: try to find a look that absolutely recalls the 90s, but doesn’t do so in an ironic way.
I did a lot of research and combed through archives of Neo-Memphis style, but I wanted to make stuff a little less stilted than I think that style allows. Some of my favorite artists working in this kind of are would be warakami_vaporwave and Eric Weidner and Mariah Birsak and even graphicwave80 (although these styles dip in and out of 80s/90s and aren’t as strict). To jump start the project I came up with a lore piece, imagining for myself a console that sgt_slaughtermelon would have salvaged from the dimension where he studied under Lisa Frank Prime and went to college with Jareddd Scott – the Sega Sibyl.
I actually undertook making an image of the console as a project where I created huge hi-res versions of textures that I could play with later just to put them in a little piece of the console image. In other words, I allowed the console’s manifestation to also be the creative driving force behind developing the textures and patterns and vocabulary of a new style. I’m still developing the style – it’s a really new feeling for me to be making things like this, and I couldn’t have even started if I hadn’t made the $based_world_beckons designs first or the PSYOPS shirt with Cameron Lee. Those two experiences gave me the freedom and confidence to make a series that is incredibly heavy on design and almost dispenses with any sort of glitch technique at all, and is only really collage work in the sense that I’m using similar collage techniques with my own generated 90’s inspired textures. The project that started the whole endeavor asked for more and more generic “a e s t h e t i c” things, and while I don’t mind that stuff at all, I had really gotten pretty far down the rabbit hole of meta-modern 90s designs. Incidentally, this series led to one of my first sales on KnownOrigin to David Moore himself. It was a pretty decent success considering they’ve all sold so far. It eventually lead to a generative project called autoRAD.
The first collection I did in this theme was called sega_sibyl_prophecy_# – this kind of reflected the lore building mindset I had when making the Lisa Frank Prime series – I wanted the titles to be these cryptic references that had a certain meaning on the surface but also built upon themselves. It let me make multiple pieces in the same series too without having to change ideas mid-style, and it made it feel more like I could flesh out the concept.
Returning to doing some memphis styles after the success of autoRAD was tricky. On the one hand – I still love autoRAD and it’s tempting to just make designs that look like autoRAD renderings. That was kind of the point of the program though – to do everything that could be done within those parameters by algorithm. This forced me to start exploring again what I could do – to try new collage techniques I developed doing o_god_the_mail collages. The mood was a little bit different too – if the original sega_sibyl_prophecy series was really inspired by 90’s console vibe, this new series almost goes further back. My newest influence was Poolsuite.net and Poolsuite.fm radio. It’s kind of like futurefunk, but really in the style of one of my favorite albums from the last decade: Hit Vibes from Saint Pepsi. That album still isn’t on Spotify as far as I know, and getting those sounds in my ears again and the visuals from PoolsuiteTV really flipped that switch back on.
It was time to explore a totally new and developing theory I have: that our ability to be non-objective like Malevich wanted – the perception of shapes and colors without reference to the real world – the existence of Supremus compositions – all of this was collapsing in my head. I had done so much work with Lazlo Lissitsky and the Bauhaus and Swiss Modernism. Somewhere between Bauhaus and Swiss Modern design geometric compositions got put to work for advertising, for product sales. Designing the autoRAD that wasn’t really selling anything in particular but yet still had shapes and visual vocabulary tied to an era and primarily an advertisement design trend (note: NOT an art trend per se) had changed the way I thought about the aestheticization of consumption. If we ever could, I don’t think we can any longer imagine shapes and colors without the cultural spillover of advertising. That is – design has encroached on abstract art to the point where our very attempts to create just for pleasure are still colored by colors and shapes and patterns that we have been sold, or were used to sell. Is this bad? I don’t know – but I do find it kind of liberating when you explore something like poolsuite where we celebrate that instead of mourn it. What happens if we just change our attitude and try to become savvy “yes, I want things – yes, people are trying to sell me things” but that doesn’t mean that we have to give in and become greed monsters or horrid consumerists. I think this is one of the threads of Warhol’s thought that has borne fruit. Being “a deeply superficial person” – you can contrast Warhol complaining about advertising and mass marketing ruining aesthetics at the same time that he makes art installations out of it. All the same, I think it’s a kind of victory to take something and say at once “I don’t want this at all – or maybe a little, but it doesn’t define me” and relish in the existence and feeling and look and surface of it.