Opinions from Eko33 and he explains his unique creative process
Generative artist creating since 1999 - part of "The Best of Art Basel 2022" by Forbes.
The generative artist known as Eko33 has been making art with computers since 1999. From being featured at Venice Biennale to now having his solo exhibition, he has already become an influential and respected artist in the gen art and NFT communities alike.
It was my pleasure to interview Eko33 and speak with him on Twitter Spaces on November 30, 2022. We talked about many things including his creative process and upcoming solo-exhibition happening on December 7th, 2022, curated by Kate Vass.
I think a blog post on the Kate Vass Galerie website, articulated it best about Eko33’s work.
“focuses on clear geometrical structures while including non-obvious yet advanced and diversified algorithmic forms. His works have no recognizable subject matter, using elements of art, such as lines, shapes, forms, colors, and texture. He aims to create pure art using algorithms.
Emotions conveyed by his work are evoked by an eloquent use of colors and saturation on top of a unique layering approach underlying the subjectivity and biases of the human condition.”
Eko33, you’ve been featured in several exhibitions around the world this year, such as Venice Biennale, Art Basel 2022, and Cortesi Gallery.
What was your experience like being a part of these shows?
It’s always a fantastic experience to meet real-life collectors and artists within international art fairs.
It’s interesting to see the evolution of the space within a concise period of time. I remember NFT art week Shenzhen and Art Basel Miami in December 2021 and how fast things changed and evolved when I was doing the opening of the Venice Biennale in Bloomberg’s Pavilion with Tezos at Venice Biennale and Art Basel Basel last May.
Traditional art galleries enter the space, technology and know-how to display digital art is also making tremendous progress on a monthly basis.
Attendance for digital art keeps growing - I remember at Paris+ Art Basel how crowded it was in the area where NFTs were displayed.
Was there an event in particular that stood out to you the most from this past year?
Each of them are very unique in their own ways. One of my best memories was looking at my long form series being displayed alongside ‘Herbert W. Franke, Mondrian, (1979)’ in Art Basel Basel and then having my work featured in Forbes magazine part of the best of Art Basel 2022.
Is there a place you have traveled to or an event you’ve attended recently that inspired you enough to create something?
When I travel I always take a lot of pictures with my phone or a drone. I’m doing this because I use it as an archive for creating color palettes.
I travel extensively and even if I may not be cognizant of it all the time I’m sure it influences my emotions and mindsets. The first thing I do upon arriving in a new place is looking for interesting museums or bookstores.
When I worked on the long form series called “Epochs” I started the project while being in Lisbon Portugal and I got fascinated by azulejos which turned out to be the starting point of a deep dive into the works of Sebastien Truchet and his famous “Truchet tiles” - this turned out to be the core of this project.
Quick side note, where is one of your favorite places to travel and why?
One of the best places to travel to is going back home, I absolutely love Switzerland. I live in a rather secluded area in the swiss alps and I’m absolutely grateful each time I go back to discover the evolution of nature, I’m never bored to contemplate it.
On a more "exotic" note, one of my favorite places is a french island called Corsica. It’s a jewel in the mediterranean sea with authentic nature and locals.
Your solo-exhibition opening on December 7th, 2022 in Zug, Switzerland is entitled, ‘Le monde non objectif’.
How did you come together with Kate Vass Galerie to curate this collection?
Kate had the idea for me to initially show two collections, one called “artefacts” and the other called “Untitled”.
Then we took time to review everything I created for the past 18 months and we believed it would be a good idea to expand the scope of the exhibition and to include more facets of my work.
When did you begin working on this body of work?
It’s a rather recent body of work, the “oldest” pieces showcased are from projects which started 2 years ago.
I read that coding is usually the end of the process for you when creating something.
Can you explain in further detail a little bit about your creative process and how you spend 80% drawing and only 20% coding?
I’ve been collecting a lot of mid-century furniture and old magazines from this era. I also enjoy collecting and reading art books.
First step of my process is going through all these references, bookmarks from previous readings etc. It can be literature, non fiction, research papers or drawings I’ve made by hand in the past.
My process can also evolve and change over time. I then draw a lot, identify color palettes, and collect more references.
After this, I start coding. Usually I spend most of my coding time pushing the code to its limits as well as to identify the space of parameters suitable for the project. I like to anticipate as much as I can while leaving space for randomness.
I like to say that I work in between control and randomness.
So, I’m curious to know, how did you first get into NFTs?
I’ve been in the crypto space for quite some time. Initially, I thought it was a scam but gradually I learned more about it. Usually the more you learn about blockchain technology the more you understand its underlying potential.
The intersection of game theory, cryptography, decentralization, technological challenges and network effects are really fascinating to me.
I first got into NFTs as a collector and then I naturally started minting my own work.
What are your overall thoughts about this space?
So many smart and passionate people at the same place is quite rare.
Of course not everyone has good intentions but overall it reminds me of the thrill and excitement I went through when I saw the arrival of the internet.
I have to highlight your spontaneous tweets simply titled “Gm if you love computer generative art!” which is always accompanied by one of your thrilling works of art.
How did this ongoing series come about?
Working with computers and machines can be a lonely adventure. To avoid cabin fever I like imagining that each morning I pass by my friends and say good morning to them with a big smile on my face.
This is exactly what I’m doing on Twitter while sharing my advanced work in progress at the same time. It’s also a way for me to show my collectors that I’m here and keep working hard on new projects.
As an artist going into 2023, do you feel pressure or think it’s necessary to be more active on Twitter and other social platforms to promote yourself and your work?
I don’t know if it can be qualified as pressure because at the end of the day everyone does whatever they want. Having said that, I know it can be difficult for some artists to be here and active each and every day.
Sometimes your engagement could fluctuate and if you don’t have a thick skin you may start having doubts about what you do and even sometimes feel a bit depressed if the audience does not react as you would have expected.
Social media algorithms have no mercy and I quite enjoy this type of blunt reminder.
I agree. I've come to appreciate the algorithm.
Looking back now, how has the technology and generative art evolved since you began creating it in 1999?
It’s day and night. In 1999 I remember having to learn as much as I could on my own. The Internet was still in its infancy. Finding a learning community was challenging to say the least.
From a technical standpoint I remember IRCAM in Paris created a hardware midi interface to work with sensors. I spent the entire summer in order to be able to afford it. Nowadays you can DIY this type of hardware for less than 30 euros.
The Intel pentium CPUs were revolutionary at the time but nowadays our phones are way way more powerful. What we do in real time today was just science fiction in 1999.
From an artistic point of view I’m a bit surprised sometimes to see some projects made in 2022 being quite close from what was made a while ago.
With all the new technology available today, I believe we should aim for more radical and ambitious innovation.
I’m really working hard to integrate electronics, laser cutters, 3D printing, direct GPU interfacing and game engines such as Unity in my practice. This is my main focus and I hope I can present this type of generative art in the near future.
Did you ever imagine the world would eventually become so receptive to digital and generative computer art?
Not even in my wildest dreams. I’ve witnessed the evolution and growing interest in digital and generative art and it’s really an amazing breakthrough.
I’m especially happy for artists like Vera Molnar, Herbert W. Franke and others who could see this change unfolding after decades of modest interest from the public at large for generative art.
On that note, is there anybody you look up to as an artist, past or present?
I was reading your blog posts like “The story of Anni Albers and her contribution to generative art” and previewing your “probably nothing” podcast, which you host.
What other things do you love to do when you’re not creating art?
I believe we never spend enough time with friends and family. I learned this the hard way when I lost my father because of a car accident when I was quite young.
When I’m not creating art and when I’m not with my friends or family I enjoy doing electronic music, especially generative electronic with eurorack modules.
I like the analog feeling of making music from a pure electric signal, patching cables, not being able to save them and not using computers at all, just a bunch of obscure small modules combined together.
I love to hear about your passion for music. What are some of your favorite albums that you can listen to for inspiration when creating?
I listen to music all day long while creating new works, my tastes are all over the place.
I absolutely love Hindustani music, of course Ravi Shankar is among my favorites.
Ambient music is also something I especially enjoy such as Brian Eno’s album called Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks.
Other legends such as Ennio Morricone, Frank Zappa, Pierre Henry, Luc Ferrari, Philip Glass, Kraftwerk, Tangerine dream, boards of canada, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Erik Satie, Klaus Nomi, Nicolas Jaar, Khruangbin, Jean-Michel Jarre, Apparat.
Lastly, I want to ask what you’re currently building that’s getting you excited.
Right now I’m entirely focused on the forthcoming solo exhibition curated by Kate Vass and displayed at unpaired gallery on December 7th in Zug. It’s going to be a great opportunity to discover my new series called “untitled”.
It has never been exhibited before and will be presented on high quality digital display as well as super high quality physical pieces in large format.
Early 2023 I’m also going to have a very exciting project which hasn’t been announced publicly yet. All I can say is that I’m thrilled and super proud about it. I didn’t want to rush the project and it was worth it as the curation panel really liked it.
Next year I’m finally going to be more focused on using electronics and real time interactive installations to create generative art.
I hope to be able to combine zero knowledge proof technology with creative and artistic use cases during live events with robotics, lasers, and real time minting experiences.
It’s incredible to learn about how you got started in generative art and to now be experimenting with real-time interactive installations and new tech. You’ve come a long way in a short amount of time.
Your curiosity to innovate and execute new ideas is inspiring. It helps push the whole community forward.
We’re all looking forward to the release of your solo show and the future of Eko33. Next time we do this, I hope to visit you in the Swiss Alps!