• 05/12/2021 @ 12:09 PM

If there was a fitting phrase for the feeling I get when I see the work of Sarah Zucker, it would be something like Nostalgic Futurism. I'm both comforted and challenged by the aesthetics of her digital work. I knew we would have a great chat about art and this space but my high expectations were even exceeded, I'm so grateful to be able to bring some of her work and perspective to you today.

Can you begin by introducing yourself to our audience? Your name, where you are based, and the mediums you work in?

My name is Sarah Zucker, I'm an artist + writer based in Los Angeles. I work with the interplay of cutting edge and obsolete technologies, specializing in mixing digitally native approaches with analog video techniques and VHS.

Loving the work you've been creating, truly taps into a deep well of nostalgia, but blended with the open possibilities of the future of tech. A beautiful overlap you are working in!

Thank you! I'm definitely going for a sense of "time-moshing" with my work. I want it to really play with the viewer's sense of time.

I just saw this video which shows your early excitement with the potential of video technologies. I was always surrounded by cameras and my dad was always filming, I loved to see you had that early evidence preserved. I'd love to hear about these early roots, your first eye opening moments of the joy of creative work, and how this whole journey began so early on for you.

It's so wild that I have that moment documented on tape. The artist Sam Meech has a great essay about that intuitive moment of discovering video feedback, and how it creates a sense of great attachment. It absolutely feels like a calling to me: just as a minister is called to the cloth, a video artist is called to the screen.

You can see the moment in the video where I become completely enamored, like seeing an oracular vision of a life's work reflected in a child's eyes. Video was the dominant medium of my early years, and I was completely transfixed by it – the chance to create TV at home!

I ended up working at a video store as a teenager, pretty much the last guard of that wave before digital took over. And my work study gig in grad school was being the A/V wizard for my screenwriting program, wrangling all the various outmoded media that the professors used to document clips. This has all played a role in my current work, as Video is so deeply enmeshed within my self-understanding.

We play as old friends, and go on adventures together with the new friends of futuristic techniques we meet along the way. Play has always been essential to how I create, and I suppose it's my fluency and ease with technology that allows me to remain playful even as an adult.

Love that line, "just as a minister is called to the cloth, a video artist is called to the screen." Let's talk about the potential that screens unlock and then dive back into the art side.

Ah yes, well, "the screen" is the most significant threshold of our time. It was much easier to define what happened inside the screen vs. what happened outside the screen when I was young – outside was "real life," and inside was "fiction." The fascinating thing about being a denizen of the Metaverse is how much that boundary gets blurred to the point of not mattering – the life we live inside the screen is just as significant as how we move through Meatspace.

I make use of the screen very intentionally in my art – sometimes the screen itself appears as a visual feature more than once – and I think this is one of those aspects that people respond to when they are engaging with my work, because it's directly toying with the liminal space of inside/outside the screen.

I like to take the perspective that every screen is an infinitely refreshing portal into a world of creativity and art. Art on paper, a billboard, a magazine or book, occupies a finite space. Even the smallest screen is an infinite amount of real estate, it holds personalized universes for the enjoyment of imagery.

So even though the tools for creative work are more accessible than ever before, the demand for digital art still far exceeds the supply. This seems to be unlocking a vast well of creativity in our digitally interconnected world. Even screens seem to be a stepping stone towards full AR immersion.

Do you have any thoughts on this perspective, or dreams about the future of how digital art is experienced in our day to day life?

We are only just beginning to define the Metaverse. We are the Ancients of a Future civilization. What's been interesting for me in experiencing the explosion of interest in Crypto Art, as someone who's been a digital artist for over a decade, and a crypto artist for several years, is that any group defining a cultural zeitgeist has to go through a period of being "ahead of their time." Digital Art was not seen as serious Art-with-a-Capital-A before (and many cultural gatekeepers still refuse to acknowledge its potency).

Now that we have the technology to edition screen-based art, we are translating its value to currency numbers that make the exoteric world take notice. Everyone had to go online this past year due the pandemic, so it's making the entire world wake up to the value of Online culture. Digital Art isn't the Future: it's the Present. It's already been here for a long time, and we're finally seeing the rest of the world wake up to that fact.


Cultural Gatekeepers always end up playing catch-up, once they realize the flood of interest has moved past them. The same thing happened with social media. So many of my mentors flatly rejected the technology, and came to me years later for advice on how to utilize it. I'm always happy to help, but there's no replacement for being a first mover.

I think it is safe to say we agree that the pandemic was a catalyst for more adoption of this technology. As we emerge from our digital cocoons, will this excitement stick or wane? How do we best preserve the potential here as the real world roars back to reality? Are the lines blurred forevermore or will we pull back a bit from this intense level of digital immersion?

I think people's attention investment into crypto art culture ebbs and flows, not unlike the Ethereum price charts themselves. Like a wise sea captain, I have ridden many of these waves. It's all to say that yes, it's natural that some of the people who aped in to NFT culture because of FOMO will trail off, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Cool stuff gets built in the moments when the masses are distracted. Long term, this is never going away. You can never close Pandora's Box. The people who are called to do this will stick around and keep ideating and innovating regardless of mainstream interest in the space, and the mainstream interest will periodically return with each CoolNewThing™.

Well put. I feel like being close to the core of this all, its easy to forget that we're STILL so early. When this technology is implemented in video games, ecommerce, ticketing, etc etc, many more waves will wash over us.

Who are some of the artists who you look to for inspiration, within and without the NFT space?

Matt Kane has long been a beacon for me in the space. He has a singular code-based aesthetic and an eye for detail that I really admire, and he's very principled about setting best practices that I think we all benefit from (He was one of the main proponents of establishing artist royalties as standard). Coldie was one of my earliest supporters and collectors – his work is instantly recognizable and technically fascinating, and he has done a ton to lift other artists up. Other artists who inspire me in the space, both for their artistry and NFT practice: Gisel Florez, Angie Taylor, Bronwyn Lundberg (my wife ), Bryan Brinkman, Carlos Marcial, KillerAcid, xCopy, Hexeosis, Luxpris, Feltzine, SamJ, Rutger van der Tas, Justin Aversano, Edgar Fabian Frias, Colin Frangicetto, and so so many more.

I absolutely love the photography of Parker Day, I collected a limited edition print of “The Female Gaze” for my nascent IRL art collection a few years ago – she just released this photo as her genesis token in the NFT space, and I was lucky enough to collect it on Foundation.

Favorite artists of mine past and present include Nan Goldin, Otto Dix, Florine Stettheimer, Henri Mattise, Berenice Abbot, Nam June-Paik, and more!

I’d love to wrap up with a question I ask everyone. What advice might you have for someone earlier on their creative path? Someone who feels called to live a live of creativity and curiosity?

Recognize that this is a journey. Be prepared for ups and downs, and don't let it deter you. Don't compare yourself and your perceived success to others, that's a fool's errand that will only knock you off kilter. You are the only You. You don't control the timeline, you only control your own drive and passion.

Your art comes from your inner child, and your business dealings have to be handled by your inner babysitter: set clear intentions for yourself, but don't put your inner child in a sweatshop. Be wary of those who would give you unsolicited advice – they're seeking to advance their own interests, not yours.

Be a kind and conscientious person and never apologize for doing what's right for you. And finally, in the words of my dear friend, the brilliant artist Edgar Fabian Frias: "Trust your vision, trust your process."

Such wise words and such a valuable perspective you've shared with us here today. Thank you, truly. To the reader, you can find all things Sarah Zucker on her LinkTree.

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