As part of our third exhibition "Issue #04 Intersection" Rudxane joins TGAM founders Xavier and Ruggero, for a casual conversation about his practice and generative art.
Rudxane is a visual artist from Amsterdam, searching for the balance between human and machine.
After rediscovering NFTs, he started an account on twitter to share some of the work and minted his first pieces on HEN.
Rudxane is fascinated by the combination of artist/machine in generative art. Projects like Tych try to replicate a human acting like a generative system, introducing human characteristics in a generative system where each line stroke is inconsistent and the high frequency of repetition causes instability and misalignment in the overall work.
The Generative Art Museum: Hello Rudxane, it is a pleasure to have you for another TGAM casual conversation. How are you doing today?
Rudxane: Great, thank you, what an amazing introduction. Good evening, I'm really good.
TGAM: Tell us a bit about how it all started for Rudxane.
R: It was somewhere around the end of the 90s when I discovered the internet. At the time you still had to dial in to connect to the internet, me and my brother were baffled with how you couldn't select text and just change it so that triggered me to dive in and discover what it was all about. I bought the “HTML for dummies” book and that’s sort of where it all started.
TGAM: What was the turning point for you to transition to creating art with code?
TGAM: Bingo was project number 5 on fx hash! How did you discover fx(hash)?
R: I actually was pretty active on Ethereum back then, but never created my own work because it never really made sense for me to do it on eth. In terms of budget, it was really expensive, especially at the peak of the hype. Minting would have been way too expensive for me and that was not something I was able/willing to invest.
I came across a piece that Loren Bednar minted on Hic Et Nunc. That's where I minted my first work and that got me excited about the Tezos blockchain in itself, while I was still really excited about the whole art blocks model. How can I make a series that can be minted by people that will generate a seed, which will generate the final artwork where I don't really control the final output.
I tried it on Hic Et Nunc where I discovered that whenever you mint HTML pieces on HEN, it will also include your objkt ID in the URL parameters, and that ID was unknown before minting. I started using that as a seed to create little series in there called doodles.
That was my first generative project where the seed was unknown for me too before minting. Back then I didn’t follow ciphrd, but somewhere on Twitter I came along a tweet that said “I made a new tool.” That got me really excited to dive in and I was already working on my series for Tych.
I was expecting to write my own smart contract on Tezos with a friend so I could make my own minting experience. But then fx(hash) came, and in that evening I took a little bit of the code of Tych that I was still working on and that became bingo.
TGAM: As an artist what inspires your art? What artists are you fond of?
R: Not specifically in style. For me I mostly connect more with artists based on attitude than specific output. The mindset of an artist is mostly the thing that inspires me and it's quite wide. But my favorite artist is Basquiat. Strict stuff like Mondriat also really resonates with me. But it's quite wide. It's not only just the visuals, it's mostly like the conceptual part behind it, the stories behind it, that's the inspiration for me.
TGAM: What is the tech stack you use to create your projects?
R: try to keep it quite simple. At the beginning I used a tool from Matt Deslaurier; canvas sketch. This made the development process easy with things such as hot reloading. But in the end I didn't really enjoy that my builds became a huge block of minified code, so nobody can really dive into it and make sense of it. In my first series like Bingo and Tych you can see that if you're trying to look into the code, there's quite a search for my parts because all the other stuff is minified in there.
So right now I basically moved to just a very basic index.html that includes P5 and a sketch JS file. And sometimes I like to use just the canvas API, but in general I'm quite lazy so I'm diving into P5 just to focus on actually making something instead of trying to build the most amazing code on its own.
TGAM: Current TGAM exhibition is called Intersection, an exploration of how generative art intersects with the traditional art ecosystem. How did it change your life the fact you were able to produce art?
R: I'm still just running my regular job, but I'm actually in the middle of the process of moving out of there. For a little bit of context; I started my own company about 10 years ago and right now I made the choice to stop. So from January 1st, I'm actually going to be a full time artist or at least full time unemployed, so we'll see how that will work. My background was in photography and I was a photographer for a while, which was a deception for me because I wanted to create my own art.
TGAM: That’s amazing! What kind of photographer are/were you?
R: Mostly editorial and a bit of documentary work. I worked in the music industry documenting studio recordings when people were recording albums and running behind the scenes during live touring, but it was really hard to make a living out of it.
As a photographer my idea was to create what I like and find the people that resonate with that, which was quite hard so I actually had to find work related to photography and that really broke the special bond that I had with the medium. That was also the point where I decided that I didn't really want to do it in that way, so I quit and went back to coding.
NFT's really changed how I can express myself. I can actually do anything on my own, I'm not forced to listen to anybody else if I don't agree with it. And I can just create what I really like to create. And if people want to collect it, that's amazing. And if people don't, that's also OK. But actually I don't have to make it into a job. I can actually do what I really enjoy and hope that it resonates with enough people that I can keep going from there. It is a huge change that I can actually focus more and more on this.
I'm not afraid to work and I'm not afraid to put in labor for money. But I prefer to work on something really close to what I love, and I think art should be something like that. It comes from something very close to you from within. You should not have any concessions on that. It was really hard for me to do that with photography. So if I can leave that out, that's the most important thing for me.
TGAM: “Unfinished” was a huge hit and a slight continuation of previous projects. How did the creation of his project come about?
R: Unfinished started from a concept that I think about a lot, where I'm not always interested about the output of something, but excited about the process. It can be either my process or another artist's process. Something that makes me question: what do I actually like from a piece? Do I like the final output? Do I like the image or do I like the effort that's hidden in there? Do I actually like the finished work or do I like the unfinished work? That was sort of the concept that I was thinking about and playing with. Also most of my work is kind of rooted in something that humans do. The doodles are something that's quite easy and has a natural vibe to it. I wanted to play around with that as well, but in a different sort of form.
I was at home trying to do fabrics and stuff like that. The stitches really inspired me and that was where I started playing around with this visual related to stitching stuff, and how you always have a long thread hanging behind there. If you're not finished it still hangs there and it creates quite a bit of chaos, whilst being actually a mark of the creation process and a way to get rid of chaos. That was a really interesting point for me where by creating something and not finishing it, it still creates a whole visual. I really enjoyed the visuals of the process rather than the end result. So that's sort of where the whole idea and the whole execution came from.
TGAM: Was this the first time you incorporated interactive elements into a piece?
R: Some systems can generate high resolution outputs but back then you had to do it in the code. It's not easy for everyone else to do so, especially from the whole art blocks where it's sort of resolution agnostic and it can grow as big as you want. That was where I felt like I needed to include more.
Giving people the option to export a huge file for printing if they want it instead of having to knock on my door and me having to look up the file and generate a higher resolution output was definitely a game changer.
Unfinished was the first project where you can actually generate a way higher resolution. For that particular project it's actually very important to look at it in higher resolution and closer, because it gives you all the other dimensions of the piece.
TGAM: Loop is your first animated project, what was the vision behind it?
R: “loop” is a bit different from most of my other work. I have two series which are rings and loop, both have the Infinity symbol in the name. It plays less with a sort of static set of parameters where the piece is generated from, but plays mostly with color and experiments with infinite output options when you layer different types of colors. Those pieces are more playground pieces for me where I mostly like to generate those outputs on my own at night and just see how much variation just a couple of small changes can create. So that’s mostly just sort of an experiment around how much variation around some simple ruleset can be generated if you don't bind them in a strict subset of what it should adhere to.
TGAM: How long does it take for you to create a project from a blank canvas? What's your process?
R: It depends on the project. Most of my projects take a couple of months. Normally I get an idea, and build the scaffolding that builds up the basic idea of it. Then I spend long evenings just refreshing and going through a lot of iterations, trying to understand the piece, how it works and how randomness can interact with different variables. From there it's mostly just fine tuning, honing it down towards the idea of what I want. But it's like 50% to 60% just refreshing outputs, checking outputs, seeing what it does to really start to on a subconscious level understand the piece.
At some point if you look at enough iterations, you start to understand things subconsciously and you can actually understand way more about the project, and you can move on from there. A lot of the time is just looking at my own art and hoping I get happy from it. But in general, it takes probably about at least like two to three months.
I also have pieces that I've been working on for a couple of months and I have to just put it down, let it rest for a bit.
So it can change quite a lot. Like my loop series is actually like a couple of hours in total. It's not that complex in itself, it's just something I wanted to make or something that I made for fun over an evening. Maybe a few little snippets and just play around with it and that's one of those. So it can vary quite a lot, but for a series with a big output, I think it's at least two to three months.
TGAM: We could see Grid Studies at Proof Of People event in London with a very interesting grid styling, tell us a bit more.
R: Grid studies was actually my Sunday morning project for a while. I always have a project on Sunday morning, which is my free day where I can wake up and just work on my stuff.
Grid studies was always a project where I tried to play around with variations in grid based systems. It started without having a goal but then I really liked those grids. I started making them in oil paintings. Experimenting a little bit with that and then it was just pencil with all paint over it to fill in and color the grids. But then you also get the pencil lines moving around with the paint, getting a vague line from the pencil. That really inspired me to try to replicate it in code, so in most of those pieces you can actually see colors moving around trying to recreate that effect. It's really interesting how you can play with symmetry and at the same time break symmetry and keep the whole process interesting. Grid studies was really an experiment around variations with grids.
TGAM: We see you publish on different chains. What’s the approach with your artworks on Foundation?
R: My foundation pieces have the same place as my HEN/Teia pieces right now, which is mostly just 1/1’s. Sometimes it's inspired by an algorithm I'm already working on or an algorithm I've already used. But mostly it's quite heavily tweaked if I mint a separate piece from there. It gives me more creativity as an artist.
I still do a lot of long form work, but it requires a lot of focus and a lot of attention on that piece, and sometimes it can be quite tiring. It's still fun to work with a single concept and try to translate that into a single piece. My foundation pieces are in a lot of cases my first piece, and also a statement of something I want to make into a long form project.
I have other concepts like my Pollen piece, which is just inspiration that I wanted to play around with. It was spring and everybody was talking about the pollen. I had just visited the Van Gogh exhibition so that really inspired me and I didn't want to bound down my creativity by the styles that I already did. I still wanted to be open and creative and be able to experiment with different things. My foundation and Teia account is mostly aimed to do things that are a bit different, but mostly pieces that live on their own.
TGAM: Have you ever collaborated with any other artists?
R: No, not yet. I've been working on one, but it's proving to be difficult, but also really interesting. It's also shown me that I can really vibe when I'm on my own, but it's actually quite hard to with somebody else, but yeah, I've been working on it and it should still arrive at some point, but we're not there yet.
TGAM: What is the process of collaboration with a generative piece?
R: I'm still trying to find that out myself. So I don't really know yet. I did notice that I think you can collaborate physically, or you can collaborate more mentally and I have noticed that.
The other person that I'm working with has a bit of a different coding style and I don't know if it's really interesting if I'm writing a function or he's writing a function.
I don't know if you really need both creating the code. But I do think the conversations and diving into each other's pieces and trying to get your own interpretation of it and finding a middle ground is interesting. That's also a danger though. It should always be sort of an extreme on one side. The whole conversation about somebody else's art, how can my art work with it and how can we find something where both of those concepts or the core of those pieces come back into a single piece is really interesting. I still want to keep going and explore that but how it works I actually don't know, so if anybody knows it, I'd love to get some tips about it.
TGAM: How do you manage an anonymous persona & your real life person?
R: I think one of the nice things about the whole Web 3 ecosystem for me is that it's respected and OK to be anonymous. I don't think it’s an idea of hiding behind it per se, but I think it can actually be a way to protect yourself, not actually you, but perhaps the situation or circumstances that you're in.
So because I've defined who I am I don't think it matters how I look, if I'm a woman or a man, if I'm 16 years old or 80 years old. I think it depends on what my actions are, how do I interact with people? Do I have respect for other people? Do I talk with other people in a normal sense? I think that's the thing that actually makes me me. I think by keeping sort of anonymous, (I'm not strictly hiding, but I'm not putting my real life persona in front).
I think it actually says, if you want to measure me or want to rate me for who I am, look at my actions and look at what I do and you don't have to know who I am or what my background is, who are my parents, where am I from, what is my history? I think it's about what I do now, how do I interact? So I think in general that’s a really big plus side for me. It creates an equal game for everyone and it takes away a lot of hidden assumptions that people have and it's actually like if you have something good to bring to the table people are always open to it, and if you can take a lot of the downsides of identity away, it's actually a really healthy way of interacting with each other.
I don't have to be anonymous, I'm not hiding, but I actually really enjoy people just seeing who I am based on what I create, how I talk, what I do, and not on who I am.
TGAM: What are your future plans?
R: I have so many plans! I feel that it’s still too early for me. Like with my background, what we talked about with photography, my most important thing is to keep challenging myself. I don't want to turn into some kind of factory that's just outputting stuff because hey, there's momentum I can actually make money and live from there. That should be secondary, but I really want to explore myself creatively. How can I challenge myself both in the pieces that I create, but also in how I would release a piece, where do I release a piece on what kind of thing?
I think being early on fx(hash) was really beneficial. But I don't want to become just a standard part of fx(hash) and that's it. I still want to explore new things and work with fx(hash) as well. So there will be another fx(hash) release at some point, but I also want to explore other platforms such as artblocks too.
I also want to work more with physical stuff. I've been printing a lot; I have a lot of paper printed right now, like my old cabinet is filled up and it really excites me. What we talked about before about resolution, seeing projects as a piece physically is still really interesting to me and a different experience.
That's something I'm also trying to explore more, how can I get my work in more of a physical form? How can I connect it with an NFT, but also how could I maybe do more physical shows overtime?
I just want to explore myself creatively and not be bound by what I'm doing or keep doing what I'm doing, but also constantly trying to be creative and trying to evolve myself for the upcoming year. And I have a lot of time for it, so we can do and try a lot of stuff.
TGAM: Why the need to get back to physicality, what draws you to the physical side of art?
R: I don't just wanna do things easy so printing for me is something very special. Digital still sort of struggles with the idea that you don't completely control the experience as the creator. I don't control how the viewers experience my pieces: what the brightness of their screen is, what the resolution of their screen is, do they show the right colors? How do they look at it? How fast is their computer?
The whole viewing experience is still a black box and I have to trust that it works. Probably everybody sees my work in a different way, while printing I have complete control over everything. I can control every single aspect in there until it's completely what I want to communicate so that's a little bit more of an absolute power in terms of output. But also, if I take my unfinished piece and I print it on a huge scale, being able to walk up to it, seeing it up really close, but still walking away and seeing the overview makes it really special.
When thinking digital, there's still some sort of disconnection, like if I look at my piece on full screen on my computer, it actually cuts off a lot of work that suddenly is hidden behind the canvas while with a physical piece I can still sort of see the whole piece while being up close. The experience of a printed piece and seeing a nicely printed piece hanging in the right size has a lot of power on how you want to communicate a piece, not just in what the piece says but also in how it's presented and being able to control that more.
On digital, there's also a lot of things to do where you use the digital part, more like animated stuff, interactive stuff. That’s also something I want to explore a bit more, but for static pieces, printing can still bring a lot to the table to the piece itself.
TGAM: How do you see the future of generative art & this ecosystem?
R: Well, that's a good question. I'm not sure of course. For me there's a lot still to explore both in a creative sense as an artist, I could still develop, but I think in the whole technology, how do we use the technology? Generative art was the first really big click with the technology where the piece or the output of the piece is generated from the seed that you're minting. There's a sort of really verifiable, decentralized way of generating the output where nobody really says what it's going to be, but it's just random luck and everybody can see that it's actually random luck that you got that piece.
But it's still only for generative art that we do that, and most of the other things are still images that we put on-chain and maybe do like a random roll for who gets what. I think there's still a lot to explore in that whole technology and what a blockchain can do together with art. I still think there's a lot of interesting stuff on how we can connect the token or the certificate of ownership to more physical pieces, how those can interact, or how those can strengthen the ownership or authenticity.
As an artist, the most interesting thing right now is of course the chance of having a global market that I can show my work to, which brings a lot of nice things in terms of being able to find your own niche. There’s a lot of people who are creating art and there’s a lot of room for specific artists that have some really weird stuff that can still find a market that's big enough for them to be interesting, which would really be hard before.
There's an amazing amount of talent in the world. There's the technology that lets everybody put their art online but we're still sort of using the old model of having a funnel flowing to a specific set of artists or a specific style or hype or momentum around different kinds of work.
Creating more exploration tools, finding and connecting with people, looking for something specific that resonates way deeper and being closer to the artist. That's maybe less of a sexy Ave, but still very interesting in terms of what it could do for both artists and collectors alike. Where basically the whole world can be connected, so how can we filter those things Better?
TGAM: How do you see the ecosystem evolving outside of collecting?
R: In general, culture is basically what drives humanity. You already see culture everywhere, and the more room we create for artists to live from their art, the more room there is for them to spread their culture around, in different ways as well.
In regards to physicality, I print stuff, I leave it in my room and put it in a container and if there's an exhibition I get invited to I supply my stuff, but I don't really have huge experience or visions on how the physical world can really change with what we are doing right now.
I believe the whole vision of artists having more room to actually make a living from art or at least set some free time aside to create because they can actually get some money in return for it is great. The more people that can communicate their thoughts, their ideas, the things that they want to communicate the better it is. The whole democratization of art is a great movement in itself.