• Serena Tabacchi

Gordon Berger

Pioneer of the NFT/Crypto Art movement, multidisciplinary artist and the first TEDx speaker about blockchain and art in early 2018. In conversation with Serena Tabacchi about his creative journey.

Gordon Berger

In the studio with Gordon Berger: a dive trhough the art of one of the most inspiring artist from the digital art scene. By blending cutting edge technologies and more traditional painting techniques, Gordon creates unique art trough the adoption of blockchain technology.

Q: Gordon, in your art there are both human and technical components that are in collaboration during the creation of the final artworks. How do you experience this relationship as an artist?

A: My practice usually addresses painting in relation to the impact of technology. I find it very exciting to explore the intersection between the virtual word and our physical reality. It’s so interesting how those boundaries become more and more blurry in our lives. I’m developing my practice in this ‘grey’ area which reflects the condition of our mixed reality.

‘Solidity’ Blockchain Artwork Series, Solo-Exhibition, New York, Feb 2019

Q: Do you think machines can be creative?

A: I don’t think a machine is truly creative, it only has a system which is completely programmed by a human. It takes certain input to perform some mathematical functions and then generates an output. The foundation for creativity is consciousness. The ability to make new connections and draw conclusions from experiences, knowledge and memories is something that is unique to humans and machines currently lack that.

‘Blue Ocean’, Digital Painting Series, 2020, NFT by Gordon Berger

Q: You were the first TEDx speaker to talk about Crypto Art and NFTs in early 2018. What do you think about it now and what is the additional value of working with blockchain technology?

A: It is interesting to think about what will be written in 200 years in history books about this 2010's and 2020's period. What actually makes this time unique? I think blockchain and NFTs are some of those things that are and will continue transforming society and the digital dimension.

In relation to digital art, it is a paradigm shift, because it introduces a new perspective and a way of disseminating artworks. It also solves some important issues regarding ownership, authenticity and decentralization. This technology directly inspired the two latest series that I did, “Solidity” and “Materiality”.

Q: In those artwork series are you always pleased with the result produced by the algorithms you use?

A: The process begins by uploading my singular brushstrokes to the algorithm, so my individual freedom is expressed in those gestures. Afterwards the algorithm combines those brushstrokes and creates a painting. Since I have no control over it, it is natural that I don’t like every result. However, this part of the process I consider a collaboration with the algorithm. Where in the end I choose which abstraction I am going to pursue in the series.

Q: Have you ever questioned the aesthetic outcome from your collaboration with technology?

A: In these artwork series the first part of the process, where the abstraction is generated, is not really about the aesthetics. It is mostly about letting go of the control and the action of outsourcing this part of creation to the blockchain algorithm.

Q: From the creative side, is there anything you believe blockchain is adding to your work?

A: It inspired me to question our perception of value as it relates to physical and digital objects. Regarding my immaterial art, blockchain shaped a whole new virtual dimension where digital art can live with a community of people who appreciate it.

However, in the case of ‘Solidity’ and ‘Materiality’ series, the data from the blockchain literally influences the composition of the digital painting. In this case blockchain directly inspires and impacts the creative process and how the abstract artworks look like.

'Solidity’ Blockchain Artwork Series, generated digital NFT and the materialized artwork, 2019

Q: You’re saying that the actual data produced by the blockchain somehow influences and is embedded into the visual outcome?

A: Absolutely because the algorithm is set up in that way. For example, some of the data it uses is: the exact time of creation, block hash and my public key. Which means If I were to generate a painting now or in 20 minutes, it would look totally different because most data parameters would have changed.

Q: This must be the first artwork to actually be digitally created with and on the blockchain and afterwards materialized from the digital to physical reality?

A: Exactly, because the painting is tokenized as it is ‘born’ and then later, I use 3D software to bring it from this virtual crypto dimension into physical reality. Then I create many physical copies in different material combinations, based on the unique digital NFT.

‘Materiality’ Blockchain Artwork Series, Generated NFT artwork and some of the materialized pieces

Q: Are you emotionally moved by working with blockchain and technology in general?

A: Yes, tech inspired me since I was really young, and I’ve always been curious to learn about it. I love to combine it with physical and digital art techniques. It definitely moves me and I'm really passionate about digital media such as digital painting, because it allows me to create at the same speed as my brain works while browsing the internet or scrolling through social media.