• Crypto Art / NFT
  • 06/15/2021 @ 1:20 PM

The deeper I dive into the cryptoart space, the more and more I appreciate the work of the generative artists, who use code as brushes in elegant and novel ways, creating dynamic patterns that mesmerize the eyes. One of my favorites I came across while scrolling Instagram a few months back, and since then, she's seen tremendous success. That artist is @IX_Shells, who notably collaborated with @TorProject with her "Dreaming in Dusk" piece, which sold to @pleasrdao for 500 ETH. This auction benefited the Tor Project, the nonprofit protecting your human right to privacy. We spoke before this historic sale and before her work landed at Christies (!) which is why those notes are absent from our in depth conversation, which is one of my favorites so far. Let's dive in :)

First off can you introduce yourself to our readers? Your name, where you are from, and the mediums you work in?

Hola! my name is Itzel Yard, friends call me "Ix shells" or "caribbean glitch." I'm an artist working with code as well as an aspiring computer scientist. My medium is generative art and the many patterns that can form from algorithms. I'm originally from Panama, but I live in the internet mostly these days so I call it Meta-Panama instead.

Your work is astoundingly beautiful and I have so many questions :) I'd actually love to start abstractly because something you said really spoke to me.

"the many patterns that can form from algorithms."

Is the beauty of nature algorithmic? I'm thinking of the fractal patterns of seashells, plants, and other patterns of the natural world.

I think the way I see patterns and the world around me depends on my level of perception and attention I want to give. I often rather create a whole world around a single output, for example : I've been working with numbers and kinetic typography lately. I don't see it as just floating digits, I rather give it some thought and try to connect ideas that are similar to the movement and speed of the visuals I'm putting out there.

I spend a lot of my days observing the art around me as well, it keeps me curious. I like that you mention shells, many people ask me why I chose that name? For me its an example of the many interpretations we can give to a concept.

Animals create "shells" to protect themselves- also "shells" is a computer program that takes the command from your keyboard to the OS and lets us start, kill, or automate processes. In short its a way to keep control while so many things are happening out there in the ocean, or, "the ocean of data."

Beautiful answer. Wow. You have such an interesting perspective. I dig it. Let's talk about process a bit. How did you first discover this type of art? And how does one go about creating this type of work? Are there artists in this space who you look up to as inspirations or pioneers?

Thank you, good questions often open up streams of thought. I first discovered this art when I was in high school, although I was inclined to the more technical aspect of computing in my early days, while I would make sketches with pen and paper during class. Then I went on to have jobs on back end (tech support) I move to Toronto for a few years, where I applied to architectural technology, again because of my love for structures, patterns and how they work, although it ended up being too expensive for me.

I decided to try again taking another program I found online, which offered more flexibility while offering high level education in a developed country. I had a few life changing events, that led me into trying different ways to work on my mental health and feel better. So I started learning with YouTube videos about visual programming ( the coding train, touchdesigner, python) I got curious about everything and found a safe place in putting all my attention into ways to understand and express emotions with my friends, these "abstract patterns."

  • @IX_Shells
  • Itzel Yard
  • @IX_Shells
  • Itzel Yard

I spend so much time online, observing and interpreting not only my work but other artists I admire in the generative art community such as Dmitri Cherniak, who as me, sometimes spends the whole night creating, revisiting concepts trying to find that shape from an algorithm that one can't stop looking when realizing "that's the one out of hundreds of outputs." He also helps emerging artists to initiate in courses.

During my first days doing NFTs I met Kaigani Turner who has been doing tireless work to enhance the art of black artists and its always cooking on some interesting generative project. Artists like Alida Sun, who not only didn't hesitate to show her admiration for my work and support me but has also inspired others like me to keep creating and imagining every day. Andrew Benson and his constant insight and creating new brush to display colors that we didn't even know existed. I look up to the work of Snow Fro and the team of artblocks creating tools to generate beauty on chain. The team at Foundation is also working hard to incorporate art that's often overshadowed and put it out there at the same level playing field as other disciplines. Female artists in generative art Eliza SJ, Erin Wajufos, Sasha Stiles, Soyun Park, Hadis Kakanejadi, and Kaoru Tanaka.

What is the creative process when you sit down to make a piece? Do you play around with trial and error and let the moment take you? Or do you have an idea in your mind that you try to work towards as you go?

Most of the time I have no idea about the results. Is not always an emotional ride, I love experimental music so it can be a pattern that plays well with it aesthetically and rhythmically. When I'm finally done and satisfied, I think of what it makes me feel.

There's so many musicians that inspire me too, one of them is Robert Henke and the system he created with CBM 8032 ( commodores ) and those algorithmic laser AV installations.

When I'm not thinking about sound and how cool micro sound synthesis can be, I'm exploring my deepest thoughts. I'm attracted to the combination of sound and visual stimuli, I often ask "can you find minimal patterns erotic? I think so. Sometimes its about the energy I transmit with it and the art of persuasion.

But it takes people who don't just look on the surface to understand what's going on in my work, because most of the things I talk about or express with it are not just in the surface. I may place more than one image in one post sometimes, which helps understand more of what I'm trying to say. But at the end these are just maps I leave around, for those who wants to explore further.

A lot has happened for digital artists over the past 6 months. What has your own experience been in this newest iteration of NFTs? Pros? Cons? Expectations for the future?

Indeed a lot has happened, it still feels like I just started working on this. Pros: lots of support and new friends who are genuinely interested in shifting not only their lives but of those around them for good. Being at the start of a revolution, a new economic system, change of behavior as society. Giving digital art the place it deserves in history, as something that completely changed our times and pushed us to evolve at an exponential level.

Beyond our imagination, because there’s so many things we can build that haven’t even been thought of yet.

I’ve gotten the opportunity to help my family, my mom and my brother. After I moved back to Panama, I had to start from zero with only some savings to re-adapt. I came a few months before the pandemic started so I really didn’t get the chance to rebuild myself while pursuing my studies and keeping my head afloat to find opportunities during the lockdown. Only my art was keeping me connected to my hopes and dreams. And I’m so happy I never stopped creating.

During the start of this movement I was keeping busy with events to showcase the artwork of other artists. So it took me a while to realize where this was heading. My friend Nicole Ruggiero first talked to me about the platform she was in and the changes they were making to transition into selling NFTs so I started paying attention. It’s been incredible and I have nothing but gratitude for all the energy and support I’ve gotten.

Another pro is being able to immerse myself in so much art every day, there’s no dull moment. I’ve met so many artists I had no idea about or in other circumstances it would be impossible to meet such as Jen Stark, who collected my work and reached out to me to tell me how much she likes it.

Also, the projects and DAOs I’ve seen come to life in manners of minutes to support the community.

Cons : There’s so many good things happening to think about but I think one of them is that there’s not enough collectors in the space. There’s still many people who haven't jumped into investing in artists, but the few that are out there, are really coming thru and helping as much as they can.

I mentioned the other day to my friends at Her Story DAO that we are gonna have to become the force we are longing for, to support more artists. Eventually there will be more stability and balance.

Burning out from going super hard at trying to be seen everyday is a thing. With automation and the full implementation of decentralized organizations supporting artists this should not be a bigger issue in the near future.

I think I shared some of my expectations in between but what I really care about is that this time around we create systems that favors most of us (humanity in general) when this expands to other realms beyond digital art, there’s going to be lots of confusion and is not going to be perfect utopia, but those who are building on this technology, standing at the very early stage of it can shape the direction it will take. I gotta say that on chain technologies, digital lands, gamification and the ideas flourishing from this every day, makes me feel positive about the future.

Such thoughtful answers, and packed with such valuable insight. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today! To the reader, connect with IX Shells on Twitter.

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