Mike Winkelmann alias Beeple in conversation with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev – Season II, Episode II

EVERYDAYS is one of the most unique bodies of work to emerge in the history of digital art. Beeple (Mike Winkelmann) has been creating a unique digital image everyday since May 1, 2007. On March 11, 2021, Christie’s auctioned the non-fungible token (NFT) minted on Makersplace associated with EVERYDAYS:THE FIRST 5000 DAYS (smart contract 0x2A46f2fFD99e19a89476E2f62270e0a35bBf0756) which was sold for the equivalent in Ethereum of $69m.
This watershed moment shook the art world as the first purely digital work of art ever offered by a major auction house and it suddenly ushered in the discussion of NFTs to a world that was spending a disproportionate amount of time online while on lockdown due to Covid-19.

On April 9, 2021, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev engaged in conversation with Beeple with the aim to further the research on how subject-formation occurs in the digital episteme, versus how it did during both the modern and postmodern ages until the early 21st century. The objective was to understand the thinking of one of the world’s leading figures in computer and motion design graphics, whose artwork he defines as “digital art” – that is, art made sitting down at a computer and distributed through digital platforms only. Since then, four more conversations have been published, during which Winkelmann explains digital art to Christov-Bakargiev and she explains her perspectives on traditional art history to Winkelmann.

Six months after Beeple “took the art world by storm” in March 2021 with the sale of his digital NFT artwork EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS, the artist got physical with HUMAN ONE (0xa4c38796C35Dca618FE22a4e77F4210D0b0350d6) which was sold at Christie’s 21c Evening Sale on November 9, 2021, for $29m. As opposed to other NFT works, this later piece is a hybrid digital and physical artwork, a 7-foot tall box made of aluminum metal, mahogany wood, and four 16k LED frames emitting a 24-hour display of a man in an astronaut suit walking through a changing landscape. HUMAN ONE’s smart contract allows it to be a generative work of art, a dynamically changing piece which the artist can remotely evolve creatively over the course of his lifetime. It would be great to see this work soon in a Museum.

On our Digital Cosmos published today, March 17, 2022, Winkelmann engages in a new conversation with Christov-Bakargiev about the success of NFTs and whether they are art or not, his practice, and why he is making physical art again with HUMAN ONE. Held on February 28, 2022, their conversation discusses the horror of war in Ukraine, the history of cryptopunks, Futurism, and the work of Giacomo Balla.

Transcript below.

Mike Winkelmann: Can you hear me there? It is. She’s rocking the Everydays, rocking the Everydays. It is bit of a sad one to have behind you.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev: It certainly is. It certainly is. I wondered if I should put it on, you know, and then I thought I guess I should, because that’s maybe what I want to ask you about is how it impacts on you. You know, I mean you immediately made this immediately, like just some hours after. Here we are talking about all of this business on the internet.

M.W.: I really enjoy about the Everydays, as I am being able to do something right there and like being able to like to express something and sort of like, you know, get something out there and especially now I could potentially just put that everyday up for auction and raise some money to kind of like actually affect change and like help, which I feel very know. I’m still kind of going back and forth how to do that and when to do that. Timing with this, like Jack Hanley show, but it’s definitely something that I feel super lucky to kind of like be in that position or just even to make a piece of artwork to share with people that you know just kind of, I don’t know, comment on “what the fuck is going on?!” and sort of trying to make sense of it through. You know my artwork because super fucked up and, like everybody, kind of like what the fog like. I kind of thought we were past countries just being like, I’m just going to invade you to become part of me like that feels like a 19th century thing or a 20th century thing, that it’s sort of like you’re just going to go in there and buck and kill people until they surrender and then they’re part of the country, like we’re still doing that. I don’t know. I thought we were kind of past that in a way, but here we are apparently not.

C.C.B.: I read some of the comments and it was interesting because the comments to you every day were variegated and some of them were: what about when the US invades a place like? So? That was a very cynical comment, obviously.

M.W.: Invading Iraq to like, take it over and have it become part of the United States. I think we were. We were, in my opinion, on that particular case. I think we were. We went in with good intentions, but it got fucked up. It was a lot more complicated than we thought and sort of. I don’t think we were invading Rack to be like. Well, this is ours now, which is that’s pretty much what he’s doing is like. I want this to be part of Russia at least. My understanding of what he’s doing so personally kind of put those in pretty different, sort of like buckets.

C.C.B.: All right, but that is some of the comments. I mean the social media relations to your everyday are interesting because there’s very, very opposite opinions and things going on. I agree with you. Obviously I mean the real question is when you think that you’re past it, you think that you’re past it because you think that we live in a more or less digitalized world where the wars are done through other means, like controlling elections through social media, buying, buying revolutions through all of that dark stuff that we read about and know about from Sipi is always was on another level, like on a metal level, an economic level. You know China and the US on buying and selling. So it almost seems 19th century or 20th century because we don’t give value to humans. So whether you are building, so whether you bomb a building or bomb a human shouldn’t in the digital mind, somehow give value to it. So why would? Why would you invade a country rather than just take it over economically? I think that’s what it’s my way of translating what you just said that that.

M.W.: It’s not. I think that’s actually a good point, but I think it’s more so. This is so brazen that it’s so just like fuck you, fuck the rest of the world. Everybody else with the rest of the world is like, you know they’re going to be like what are you doing and you’re just like a poet. I’m just going to do this and like it’s just out in the open. I guess that it’s sort of like you’re just like fuck it. I’m just going to mass a bunch of troops and just go and try to take over this country like.

C.C.B.: Understand, I understand what you’re saying absolutely, and everybody has that feeling watching the news. They all have that feeling that it doesn’t make any sense. But the reason we have that feeling is because we somehow feel that the land or the people or the buildings don’t really matter that much in the bigger picture of a digitalised world where everybody’s talking about the Metaverse. So, it seems absurd that someone would like to win a war by bombing a building and not by buying stocks in their companies or something. I think there’s a preconception. People have a preconception that the world doesn’t really have that matter, you know, and that that that that matter doesn’t matter. But I just want to open a little parenthesis. You know it depends on what historical period you’re thinking about. There are a lot of people in Russia who think that the fall of the Soviet Union was not a good thing and therefore Ukraine was not part of the Soviet Union, but it was under Soviet control like that’s why everybody is so scared in, like Poland and Romania right now, because all the other countries that were part of the Soviet Bloc are afraid and many artists have, you know, expressed their feelings all over the former Eastern Bloc. So I’m just saying that because there are people who think the world was much better before 1989 and we’ve got to go back to that rather than it’s not about thinking. I’m just going to invade this country and take it over, and it was independent for the last 500 years. I mean it’s only been 30 or 40 years since it wasn’t under the control and influence. So, anyway, that is a pretty shocking wake up yesterday.

M.W.: Definitely, I think well, and these I think too, the speed and the sort of like now that everybody has cameras, like the views that you’re able to see of some of these things. It’s like, oh my god-like I saw a jet fly over and like bomb a building and it was like this person had to have been like streaming this live because the the, the, the, the bomb that this get shot at them. I don’t see how it couldn’t have killed them like instantly.

C.C.B.: And so, it was.

M.W.: Dreaming that live, and so you basically just saw like the view of what it would look like if a jet flew over you and they picked and just shot a-bomb right at you, which is like that’s not something we’ve never really seen before because, yeah, we’ve had, you know, video cameras be part of battle since Vietnam, but they were giant things that were, you know, reporters had to bring into the thing. Now there’s you know, 40 million reporters in Ukraine documenting “what the fuck is going on?!”.

C.C.B.: But it doesn’t seem to change it that just because you’re an artist and I’m an art person running a museum, I just wanted to put in this that there is an artist called Rabbi Rare, whom I exhibited in the dOCUMENTA(13) in 2012 and he was very, very, very, very upset and involved in what was going on in Syria at the time. And the piece that he showed was actually based on a video made on a handheld telephone of being shot at by snipers. And then the end of the video is: the camera falls and it just all blurs. So actually, that question that you just brought up has been the subject of an installation already ten years ago to 2012, I guess, when the first telephones were around in war zones. But what I keep thinking about, aside from the absurdity of the anachronism, I think what you’re talking about is a kind of anachronism, a feeling that it’s anachronistic. It’s not of the time is the relationship with Afghanistan, you know, because when I was like this desperate and because I had personal connections with Afghanistan, the way everybody was just ignoring it, and that was really a sign of terrible weakness on the part of the West. Actually, I mean, and also the US, to just abandon place and let it be run over by the airs of Osama Bin Laden. So, I have a feeling something changed, maybe in the mind of like Putin and people like that. They think that there’s no consequence and you can just do it.

M.W.: Well, that’s the thing I was very much like. Okay, well, we’re going to go in and like, I guess we’re at war here and then it was like I was reading some articles last night. It’s like we’re not sending troops, it’s like we’re not. We’re just like now. We’re not going to send troops. Good luck guys like we’re going to send, like you know, a very nominal like 10000 or something when Poland’s got, you know, 200000 rate at the border. And so, it’s like I don’t I don’t think the United States is going to be doing very much at all. Besides this kind of, you know, slap on the wrist sanctions which, again, we’re trying to like, preserve our own interests and not tank our own economy by not putting very heavy sanctions on him. And so, yeah, honestly, our, our, our sort of you know, response to this is going to be pretty muted.

C.C.B.: Is that what the Apple “geese” means, the Apple “Geese” truck?

M.W.: No, so the Applebees truck.

C.C.B.: Sorry! Sorry!

M.W.: The Appleby’s Truck good the Applebee’s Chalk is. Yesterday it was trending on twitter, there was CNN coverage of the war and then they immediately cut to an Apple Bees commercial, and it was like air radiance, and everybody was like what the fog like, and so it was kind of like this sort of thing, where it’s like what’s the fun. “There’s like this fuckin war going on and you’re trying to sell fuckin Appleby’s bullshit commercials?!”.
C.C.B.: I don’t know.

M.W.: Just like a shady restaurant here it’s like a falcon. I don’t know. It’s like a fairly cheap kind of place where you go in and just it’s not a fast food, but it’s like it’s one step above fast food. It’s like a shady restaurant, and so that was something that was on, you know, raid sirens and then they immediately cut to an Apple Bees commercial, and everybody was like what the hell and its kind of like went viral on twitter. So, it’s kind of making fun of Apple Bees a bit for like this completely toned sort of product place and then against war coverage.

C.C.B.: So, are you do you think that something like consequences? You know someone from Romania that I was with today said that Ukrainian plane landed in Romania because it got lost, because the Russians bombed all the infrastructure for radar. So, the pilot was just kind of flying. Hang around could land it in Romania and they were a little bit worried because it might be that the Russians could think that. You know the Romanians are somehow involved supporting. So, they were worrying if it was even just done on purpose. So do you think that there can be these butterfly effect consequences?

M.W.: For what?

C.C.B.: I don’t know, like things are going to become more catastrophic in Europe.

M.W.: I don’t know, honestly, I mean to be quite honest, I don’t know that much about, like the history, like I had to read numerous articles to be like. Why? The fact is he doing this? Like you know. So, I really don’t know that much about that. I really like, but I mean most of the things you’re saying. It’s kind of like what I read in terms of like the other countries are like. Well, if he takes Ukraine, there’s nothing really stop and I’m from kind of like Graham and the rest of the whole work in you.

C.C.B.: One.

M.W.: Lost here, lost in the Soviet Union, so I don’t know. I mean, I would hope we would at some point step up here and kind of be like what the fog. But then again, I don’t really want us to go to war, and so it’s sort of like that’s not a great option either, but like doing nothing great. There are really no great options here when somebody is evil or whatever the fog you want to call on.

C.C.B.: So, what are we going to talk about, since it doesn’t make it a very good day for talking about?

M.W.: I mean on my family’s leaving for the weekend, so I’m going to have to take one second to.

C.C.B.: Seven.

M.W.: Just one second, my family is leaving.

C.C.B.: You’re speaking about Mario Catalan right now, so I was telling you that he did his first museum exhibition at Castello and amongst many other artists, and so the Castello is very connected with material, physical tower and so on. And you were just speaking about your being taken aback by the reaction of people to the bananas got tired. But I want to tell you I think he was thinking about your world. My deepest conviction is that he was thinking about the absurdity of buying a monkey online, little image or little cryptopunk or something that you know. How can that be important? Or but you know, the thing about art is that we live in a folded time space. I really am a quantum physics buff, and I don’t think that’s totally right. When did he do it? He did at the Miami Base Fair.

M.W.: Did I?

C.C.B.: Yeah, but it was like a year or two ago. It wasn’t very long ago. I think it was.

M.W.: Eight.

C.C.B.: I think it was 2019 we should check. I think it was like a month or so before you did your thing.

M.W.: As to the 2019.

C.C.B.: So, you see, I was right.

M.W.: It was one year before.

C.C.B.: Everybody.

M.W.: Before the board, so I mean that does matter if it’s one year.

C.C.B.: Even better artist, because that makes them even better, because what he was talking about was this kind of sudden how you say affection for something that seems so little. You know, it seems so nothing in terms of craft or concept, and I think he was talking about the way that, yeah, that a certain type of art was developing our attitude towards art. I don’t think you can separate it from the phenomenon. I mean ants already existed, even though you hadn’t made it. I think they existed since, like 2017 or something right, I mean I had not heard of them, but.

M.W.: They did, but so you think this banana thing is about ants now faking.

C.C.B.: I think it’s about an attitude, what we call the Kunstwollen, also the Weltanschauung, the times there are certain times and it’s like the essence of time, time that that gives a lot of value to numbers. For example, I mean that was surely part of the digital revolution. The digital revolution is an attention economy, so all of Facebook and TikTok and the Instagram, and that so I think he was thinking about a very flippant, not flippant, but a society that can attribute value to something that seems valueless and that you can’t give value to.

M.W.: Don’t you think there is a number of artists who are doing that? I think I agree. I think this basic like sort of thing was. Look at how stupid it is. People will buy this thing and it’s just a stupid banana tape to a wall and somebody’s going to buy that. For you know, I don’t know it was like a $100000 or some stupid thing and I think that’s… but I think there’s I feel like there’s a lot of. There’s a number of people who are doing that.

C.C.B.: I know about.

M.W.: To me that’s not. I think it’s interesting to a degree, but it’s not that interesting because it’s like, okay, yeah, I get it, there’s people speculating on art, but like…

C.C.B.: Right, but you have to say it in a simple way, and then you have to be lucky. As an artist, I mean luck and random chance is also important, as you know, I mean, I think so. There’s a question of luck and coincidence, and then there’s a kind of empathy and intuition that artists have, that they can’t really rationalize. But things seem to happen at the right, at the right time. And I think in 100 years, when you look at our history, you’re going to have both the crypto punks and you’re going to have the banana and they’re going to be in the same universe. Of what does it mean? Actually, that was one of the questions you know I had for you because I have these links to these things like that that Ryan sent me on Open Sea, or even if I look at the link of the Rebirth 6200, there’s a little image, you know, and then it has the logo of the company on the top and then it has the number. And it gives me this feeling of something that’s so bucked in and as if it were a poster for something for a movie that I can’t see that it’s pointing to something that I can’t see. I was thinking really about this question of taste. You know taste and how taste changes and how I can develop a taste for something like that and beyond just the money. Or, as I always tell you, I think the money not because of desire for wealth, but the money, is like an image of this numerology or of this counting of attention that is the digital world, which is all numbers. I mean everything is a number, it’s all called, so I sometimes think well, the material of this art are those numbers, but I don’t understand. I’m really not in it, I don’t understand it, but I see these can’t develop a taste or I mean I don’t know where to go and I’m even on a jury. I have a feeling that I don’t have the know the knowledge. I mean we’re talking now about. We’re not really talking about your work because your work. It’s a project that is online and it’s digital and it’s in social media and it’s making an image Everydays that may or may not relate to what’s happening. It goes beyond and it existed before the okay. I’m not discussing. I mean I can look at your work and learn about cinema four d and learn about what you do, that you push a medium and how you repeat certain tropes and don’t repeat others. And I can read it in a sort of history of image making, history of art and history of realism, history of comic, history, of city, history, of political satire and so forth. If one thinks about just this craze in art, it seems to me that these are like JPEG or a little short little video that in themselves I can’t really understand why the crypto punk has an artistic value, but it may have it because I may be making a mistake, like the person who would look at a Camel soup painting by Andy Warhol and say I don’t understand, that, you know, I can’t see it. So maybe there’s something I don’t understand and that is to be understood in relation.

M.W.: No.

C.C.B.: Question in relation not only to the numbers but also to the actual transactions, I mean, I’m wondering if the fact that an image gets bought and sold and bought and sold is in itself some sort of music.

M.W.: Who cares to me? It’s sort of like the art itself is. When you’re when I’m looking at something that has. Whether I determine something has value or not, I personally look at what. What new ideas did this bring to the table to expand my understanding of what art is or what art could be? And when I look at the soup can say esthetically, do I personally not really, it’s just a soup can like it’s not like. I love this image of this soup, can but completely see that it has value and that it expanded our idea of like what art is. And there’s a lot of things that are like that that I don’t esthetically really like. But I think they should be valuable because it was a pretty like groundbreaking sort of like thing and to me the crypto pumps would fall into that because they did influence a lot of sorts of things. But I think it did have a lot of influence on sort of like you know, my work, like it wouldn’t have sort of like.

C.C.B.: How?

M.W.: Just because those were like the first NFTs those really were like one of the things that sort of like, and there’s a lot of people sort of like I was the first, but they were the first that captured everybody sort of like attention. And to me it’s sort of like you can be the first, but unless you get everybody’s attention to actually affect change, then it doesn’t kind of matter if it’s like, oh, I did this thing, but nobody saw and nobody knows about it. It’s like well.

C.C.B.: But that would imply that you think that the is itself the art.

M.W.: No, I don’t think the, I think the NFT is…well…that’s actually a good point in the case of them. I think the is more a part of the art because they were more the one who sort of like, like they made a new canvas for everybody, and so it’s sort of like is the actual style and also, to be quite honest, the way they generated those images. Nobody had ever kind of like done that like that before. People have done sort of like generative art, but the idea of sort of like taking these traits and like applying them to 10000 and kind of like there an insane amount of those projects. Now I could literally send you hundreds upon hundreds of projects that are complete copies of.

C.C.B.: Excuse me, can you describe what the technique was? Again, that was new.

M.W.: Here let me can I share my screen here. So, if you look at the crypto pumps, so each one of these is basically there was like 10000. There are 10000 different ones, and so each one of them is sort of like generated, based on a number of traits. Here’s the different traits that this one has. It has a 400 and 41 out of the 10000. It has an earring, 2000 and 400 have that and it has a cigarette, 900 and 61 of them have cigarettes, and so it combined those different traits to make this one image and like them, are different. And some of them are rarer. So, like these, these are aliens. There are only nine aliens out of all of the 10000. There’s only nine of these aliens, and so this one is an alien, but it’s also got like a headband, and so all of them are like different like that. So, you click on any of them. It’s like okay, 300 of them have mutton chops, 400 have crazy hair, bubble up. So, each one of those 10000 is unique and certain ones, because they have certain properties that are more rare, they, you know, have kind of.

C.C.B.: Your question, but that’s because they were all minted at the same moment, the tent.

M.W.: At the same moment, and I think the other thing that makes this this project a bit more sort of like Peris, they were minted and given away for free, so there’s really no way that you could be like this is just some money thing. Labels like nobody knew what this shit was. Three years ago, there was almost no interest to the point where they literally just made this whole project and gave it away for.

C.C.B.: Who is they?

M.W.: Two guys, it’s two guys from New York that they gave it away for free, and this was much more like experimental and something that they didn’t have to do, and they weren’t copying anybody, and they did something new. And now here let me show you this too, so there are. This project is now called a personal profile pick project. There is an insane amount of these projects now out here. Here’s another one, here’s just one that you know has traded a thing, so it’s like we’re copying the cigarette.

C.C.B.: And so right, right, right, what are they called personal?

M.W.: Personal profile picture.

C.C.B.: I understand it’s a complete epitome of the other one.

M.W.: Here’s another one, I mean these, you know, are another one that are out there. There’s kind of quite a lot of these projects out here and they all, and almost all of them too, are like 10000, so they’re very much influenced by.

C.C.B.: Understand it started a whole system. I mean it’s not a system.

M.W.: There are literally like an insane amount of these and they, a lot of them, copy, like the Falcon, cigarette, and things like that. They copy a lot of the things that were in the.

C.C.B.: I thought you, I got you completely understand. Because this was, let’s say, a large number of variations. Well, it reminds me of Boulez, to be honest, and music random, the interesting randomness and systems. In the 1930s and 1940s they were very, very beautiful, or even, if you think about Mondrian, you know, and early system paintings that have to do with combinations.

M.W.: Did he use like sort of like numbers and like proportions? And.

C.C.B.: Yeah, like mathematical variations, with as many as you can, and especially in music it was. It was called combinatory, combinatory art and there was a value attributed. While there is a value in this work too, attributed to permutations, it’s like how many permutations can you make it something? I think there is a history to this and I do understand why you say that there was an original, a moment and then somebody decided to mind one of them and then they minded them all.

M.W.: So he gave them away for free and they kind of like minted them, and then you could just claim them, but they kind of just gave them away for free, and whoever scooped up a bunch of them now is very rich, because the cheapest one you can get is like a 100 and $50 out of those 10000, and so the ones that are more expensive. I don’t know, if you saw this, this auction at Christie’s that didn’t happen or whatever, but you know that would make 100 million dollars for this guy.

C.C.B.: A question that I think I’ve asked you before, but we just brushed over it. I’ve been trying to give a history to this kind of collecting and it doesn’t really associate with me with collecting of art, like art collectors, but it does have a lot to do with the history of stamp collectors, because only stamp, I mean stamps. Why? We’re stamps important. There’s no reason in the world why a stamp on an envelope should be collected. It makes no sense, but it had something to do with travel and going too far-away pieces and places and geography. You know all the stamps of France, all the stamps of, I don’t know, Ukraine and all the stamps of the world. So, there was this idea of the entire world that you could have in a very small place like your stamp. Books were rather small, and they were associated very much to money. So, in the minds of stamp collectors, you have all these pictures, in your mind, of these pages of the catalogue where you have all the stamps, and you have all the variations of the head. You know the head with the leaves on it, the head without the sculpture, the head that’s pink, the head that’s blue and the governments would make like maybe 50 variations or 100 variations on the one set. And there were always these prices around it. It did have to do with censorship and prices being evident, which is something that, in art, we never did. I mean.

M.W.: And that’s where I think it brings up sort of an interesting kind of discussion which is to me pretty subjective. Is what is the difference between a piece of art and a collectable? Because I think in my view these are a little bit more on the sort of like collectable side versus a piece of art that’s trying to express some sort of like idea or sort of like, you know, express the idea. I guess. Basically, and so you know, I think there can be ideas with these things that they could be trying to express. But I think, in my view, and again, if somebody’s like, no, this is art, I wouldn’t argue with. Them would be like, okay, well, you feel that his art, like that’s fine, like and sort of. I don’t want to like to say that I don’t view these as art, but it’s sort of like to me. It’s like kind of a grey area between what is a collectible, like a stamp, obviously, but even stamps have art elements to them too, and it’s sort of like, you know, a real piece of like art. And that’s where I think most of the things, to be quite honest, selling in the world are these. There’s a way, would weigh more people buying these PPS than are buying art. Now it’s almost entirely these PPS that people are buying versus digital, and that kind of shifted, even like when I was when my sale happened. People were mainly buying digital art. Then then the board. It happened and they were very successful. And then there was just a mass of rush of people copying it and there’s still a mass of rush of people copying it. But the board Apes were also copying the crypto punks in terms of how they look and how they’re like set up or whatever. So, I think it’s the Board. Apes did a few sorts of like. They brought some new things too to the table. They did a couple of things that were like, oh, that’s certainly different than anybody’s done before, and I think that’s why you know they should have values.

C.C.B.: Your direct question. What do you think you’ve done? That’s different.

M.W.: That is a good question. I think I have done. I think the everyday project is different. I think there’s people who have done things like you know, so people who have done this like day project, and I think that’s it’s easy to be like. Well, that’s the thing. He wrote the date and it’s sort of like well, he wrote the date. He didn’t even do that every day for one thing.

C.C.B.: It’s very different.

M.W.: And it was just.

C.C.B.: Well, I can tell you one example of a day of conversation with … he was a genius. It’s not. It has nothing to do with your art. I don’t think so. The main difference is that it’s not every day, it’s very highly important days, highly memorable days, I mean he would have made.

M.W.: Standing as he did it, as he was like travelling and like member.

C.C.B.: Memorable day, and on the back of every date painting is a clipping, a newspaper clipping. If there was a date painting of yesterday there might be a clipping of, you know, the bombing of Ukraine or something, but he might put some other article. That’s not to us necessarily the memorable think, but I think it had to do with a notion of time that’s very different from your notion of time. I mean you have this notion of time as something that you need to put in an order. You know, and give it some periodicity, and.

M.W.: But I think my project is about time to some degree. But I think it’s also about giving up certain aspects of creative control in terms of, I don’t put out an Everydays if I like, get to the end of the day and it’s like this. Socks fuck and hate this. I put it out like I don’t I don’t just like, well, I’m not going to put it out and that’s a piece of the sort of creative control that I’ve kind of like given up. That’s you know, sort of like one aspect of it and then I think, just sort of the continual sort of like journey off, kind of like this being kind of documentation on my life one day at a time, I think you know, is another aspect of it and I think another sort of aspect, sort of in general, of my work that I think is somewhat new and novel, is sort of trying to take these tools and techniques from sort of video games and movies. And I think that’s what is different from my art versus digital art that has come before me. Is, I see there’s digital art, but it seems much more sort of like academic and less about sort of trying to take these.
C.C.B.: Tools.
M.W.: Techniques, sort of video game production and movie production, and apply them to sort of like fine art.
C.C.B.: That’s what you do.
M.W.: That that is what I do, and I think before you saw digital art, but it wasn’t using the same sort of like tools and techniques in a way to sort of like produce an image like that. You see behind you that looks like a painting, but it was done completely on, like sort of like computer, and so the digital art that I’ve seen in the past has been much more kind of, for lack of a better term, academic and woke, and more like, okay, like more, almost like experimenting instead of trying to sort of like master digital tools to make images. In a way it’s kind of a weird sort of.
C.C.B.: It had more to do with Fluxus. You know the origin of digital art is in media art and the origin of media is in documenting performances, because the Fluxus artists, like Nan Jump, who did that recording of the Pope in 1965 from like a car or the car passing, that’s considered the first video art piece and because there was the first Portapak or something that had just been made. But those were Fluxus artists, and they believed in the flux of time and events and that the event in the performance was the artwork. The first media art was documenting performance in a way. And then I think yeah, it wasn’t about popular culture, it wasn’t about reusing cinema and video games, for sure not. But I think there was the first time the cinema comes in. It’s with cut and paste, like when Pierre takes pieces of other films or Douglas Gordon with 21 and four-hour cycle and things like that. They were cutting and pasting and trace him off in Australia and then years later also the famous piece, you know the clock of the artist.

M.W.: He uses the things, the pieces.

C.C.B.: That’s but he also comes from flux, so I think the shift. Yeah, your work doesn’t come at all from that. I didn’t even know about your work until the sale, but I think.

M.W.: Also, and this is not necessarily sort of specific to me, pray, but I think the immediacy in which I’m able to put outwork is definitely something that is different as well and immediately you are able to, you know, on the other side of the world, I guess the social media aspect. If I sort of like utilizing that and having that be a part of my work, it also be influential on my work. Sometimes people say things and then my work will change. You know I’ll see comment or something and then I’ll sort of like riff on that the next day, and that’s not really something that was possible before it wasn’t like, you know, Picasso would paint a painting and immediately show it to somebody and I’m literally posting these like literally seconds after I’m done that. It’s like I’m like go up, go and post-it.

C.C.B.: Collect.

M.W.: People can see.

C.C.B.: Right, but you think it’s more like a subject, a collective subject that’s being formed.

M.W.: I think it is very influenced by the sort of collective consciousness of the internet. Yeah, I mean.

C.C.B.: Very interesting is that I see a difference. I hear a difference in how you’re talking now, as opposed to last March, when I started.

M.W.: More about our history since then I will say that.

C.C.B.: Do, but also about your own work. I think you’ve heard a lot of people analyze or talked to you about your work and you’ve thought about it and you’re very, very. You’re kind of like an algorithm or a machine learning thing. You’ve kind of keep eating, being fed this thing and you put it in and and you’ve become really knowledgeable about yourself.

M.W.: Has made me look at the work differently and I think what’s funny about this is I would always call my work. People would be like it’s not cramped, it’s you know it’s good, this or that, but I was always like no, I don’t I don’t think it is good. I think you’re just you. Your standards are not high enough and you’re not comparing me against the same people I was comparing myself against because, to be quite honest in myself, against works that stood the test of time and lasted now hundreds of years, and so it was sort of like. Well, it’s not that good, so it’s like well, if it’s not that, then I’ll just live and die whatever and so it will be gone. And so, I was always looking on a much longer time scale of sort of like art history and trying to do something that was truly like something different. And I’m still trying to do that too, and you know maybe I’ll succeed. Maybe I won’t but I think it’s something that I’ve always been sort of like always been sort of like trying to place my work in our history, but I just never took the time or never, like I never had the like context until this stuff sorted, happening to sort of like take a step back and like, well, wait, how does this actually sort of like fit into? Like sort of like the context of art history, and so I definitely, over the last year, spent a lot of time reading about Warhol and Picasso and Mondrian and sort of mates and all the mango and like a bunch of people, mostly in the, I would say, like 1900 or 1800 to 1970. To be quite honest, almost nothing after 1977 interests me that much because it kind of feels like it just was like okay, no rules anymore, like anything goes like it’s like it was, just like I don’t know. It’s just like sort of like two, like who cares, like I don’t know, I don’t there’s and there are some artists. Of course, that that interest me in the last kind of like 50 years. But I’m way more interested and sort of like more of how these movements came to be in, like the earliest early 19th century, and sort of also how that relates to our time-frame and sort of like understanding that photography was around for a very long time and the photographers themselves considered themselves artists, just like all of the people in my circle did, but nobody else did until finally it was like you know, in the thirties or forties or whatever, and then it was like, oh wait, photography can be, and it’s sort of like to me that seems like a perfect analogy to sort of the last. You know what are, what are the people that I’ve been doing? We considered it art, but then the art establishment did not consider art and now they’re starting to come around and being like. Maybe it’s like, and so to me that seems very sort of like analogous and so trying to sort of.

C.C.B.: Well, in the art world, to be honest, in the art world photographers were accepted as artists actually only in the late 1970s. The first document that included photography as art was 78, and that’s more or less the same time as Cindy Sherman and all of the picture’s generation. And then the Germans like Gursky and Strut and Roof. So, what you’re talking about in the 19 thirties were great photographers. But they were not considering themselves as artists. They were considering themselves as photographers. Unless you’re talking about people like Mary, I mean Mary who was a painter too, but we put, I mean we go backwards and consider them. They were generally publishing books. They weren’t like framing the photographs and putting them on the wall. That happens 50 years later. But I understand what you mean when a medium at first, it’s not art, and then it’s odd. You could even say that about paint on canvas. I mean there was no paint on canvas before the 15 hundred. There was just yeah, it has to do with the development of the market. How do you say the free market? People would, you know, roll-up the canvas, you can roll it up.

M.W.: Oh, I see, so that they could move it easier.

C.C.B.: Yeah, it’s like sending an, you know.

M.W.: They were just putting down.

C.C.B.: Yes, temperate tempera on wood or fresco in the wall or mosaic. So, it’s a very modern development. Like you’re talking digital, I mean the canvas itself was a really major development, because then you do not make it crack, you know have to put like oil in it and things.

M.W.: Say going back to like doing something different. I think this work could also, I think it will. Over time, people see a parting shift in terms of being able to dynamically change an art in an art piece evolving. So, I think that does have some value. The numbers, how much value? That is really more than a market of this or that. Who knows? But I think that is something that is something different and new. I was actually just doing another interview this week and they were actually just this morning, that this week, this morning, and the environmental thing came up again, and I forgot to say this. But it’s I can’t help but think this, that it’s sort of like if I was doing, you know, two-ton bronze statue and then I was shipping it over to Italy and then I was shipping it back to the United State and then I was shipping it to Hong Kong how much energy do you think that would use?

C.C.B.: I’m not sure I agree with you, because you have to look at the question of numbers. How many sculptures are being shipped around and are being made versus how many communications, digital communications and block chained things are flying around or would be flying around or will be flying around in the future. So I think that.

M.W.: That it’s sort of like I’m responsible for what other people are doing.

C.C.B.: Yes, yes, because the medium is the message, as Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian person.

M.W.: Heard what that meant.

C.C.B.: Well, it means, you know when I told you that great art is great art because it’s topological, it’s a topology, in other words the content, the subject, the medium that’s used all mean the same thing. So, they are all connected, like, for example, take a William Kentridge drawing in charcoal, William. We’ll be drawing these bodies, black bodies that were erased in the landscape, Johannesburg, and he’ll be talking about mining, which is actually raising the land, and then the charcoal will be rubbed, rubbed and he’ll race and draw so that the paper itself is ruined. So, you have a kind of perfect, perfect togetherness between the medium and the message. And when bad art is done there’s this content that’s like, like, say: you do these ten projections about the glaciers melting and you projected into a video, huge video projection. That would be ridiculous. It would be so wrong, because of the use of energy, to get that, to get that projection running and talking about saving the glaciers. So, while a really good ecological artist like maybe Joseph Boyce, you know he would be planting oaks, the 7000 oaks, and it would be about the ecological question, but it would be also with a medium that’s ecological. So that’s one of the big differences between and say, design. Just you know, you design something actually bad design, good design. The design itself coincides with the thing that you’re doing. So, I do think that it is hard to argue that digital art is ecological. I really think that that’s hard to argue. I mean the way that it is ecological, I’ll tell you. In my view I mean it’s just that people will stay-at-home more, so there’s less travel unless airplanes and all of that, and so you could say that it’s ecological in that sense. But I don’t think we should argue. The digital art is particularly ecological. I mean the big lie. Let’s put it this way: there was a big lie when they said that everything was in the cloud. You know what are you talking about? There’s these big machines and you need to cool it all and you need to cool all these servers and things. So, there was a lie like about ten years ago.

M.W.: I think sometimes when you’re sort of like we’ll solve it, people are like immediately, like you’re denying that there is a problem is like no, we need to solve it. I just think we will solve it.

C.C.B.: Do you know what futurism?

M.W.: Not really.

C.C.B.: Oh, I can still teach you something.

M.W.: I think this is only exposed how much I don’t understand, actually like I just, and there’s another sort of like person advising me. That taught me a lot too. I like found this, this little graft of all these movements and it was just like one too. And it was like I haven’t even heard of most of these movements because like in the 19 sixties, I guess everybody has jacked on drugs. They made like 50 new art movements. I’ve heard of probably like 25 different movements on this little like graphic that I saw.

C.C.B.: I mean that’s normal. There are so many. I’m just trying to get you the painting. Okay, this is Velocità Astratta, abstract speed, and it’s one of the most important artworks of the early 20th century by Giacomo Balla, who is one of the futurists, and it’s in our collection. There are. There are various versions of it. This is the first version. It’s actually the impression of a car moving and it’s the speed of a car. So this is the beginning of the automobile industry period 1913, and have you ever heard of Giacomo Balla?

M.W.: No.

C.C.B.: The MoMA has a very important piece called Street Light. It’s this one.

M.W.: Why do you think that? Why do you think that work is valuable?

C.C.B.: But first I have to tell you, at the beginning, beginning, beginning, of the Manica Lunga, I was thinking of putting Velocità Astratta and then, on the other side, the Julie Mehretu’s painting, but I will have to ask her if she agrees, which is why I’m asking you, because there’s a beautiful Julie Mehretu’s painting that is in the shop. But anyway, why do I think what is important?

M.W.: That painting.

C.C.B.: Let’s look at this painting, for example. What happened to it? I am here. It is well, they call it streetlight. Okay, so this is a few years before he made the Velocità Astratta, and this painting is 1909. Cities have been electrified with lamps. The idea that night is not night and day is not day and that there’s day for night and so on is a very recent thing. I mean electrification of cities is like 1818, hundreds in many parts of the world at the time and you see the moon. He’s basically saying that we’re in a whole other epoch with electricity. Kind of like you telling me that the digital is like watershed. But can you imagine electricity being a watershed? So, he’s basically saying that this new kind of energy, which is electricity, is much stronger than the moonlight. And all paintings were of moonlight before and then the light gets split-up into it, like a prism, into all the optical things, which is something from the glass and the lamp and the light. So Balla does this, and this is just before. I mean this is 1909. So, it’s the man very early on. I think the first really abstract works are Giacomo Balla on the one hand and Kandinsky on the other, in like 1911 and 1912. Now how do I get out of this? So why do I think it’s important, our painting? Well, because it’s an analysis and breakdown of movement and speed and nobody had ever done that. And we’re in a society where suddenly I mean, just think about it. This is about. We’re about the same time that Einstein is saying where is ours? I keep losing it here. It is. You know Einstein is doing relativity and he’s saying that you know time and space are connected and if you’re going on a-train really fast, you’re going to be at a different time right then if you’re going at a different speed. So, this is the same moment. You know this is 1913. We’re in the middle of developing theory of relativity and basically, it’s the world seen from a racing car or it’s a standing person seeing a racing car. So, I find futurism much more interesting than cubism. Cubism is very traditional because it’s about.

M.W.: Which was first?

C.C.B.: Well, they’re together. I mean there is. Well, I would say that maybe you could say that, well, Picasso was doing works way before because he was doing the blue period, and so no, not at all. So, the first cubist, you could say it’s the Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is 1907, but I don’t really think.

M.W.: I thought he didn’t show it for a very long time.

C.C.B.: Yeah, he didn’t and then actually, you know what my theory about that prove.

M.W.: Could she have? It is a woman who painted this Balla?

C.C.B.: No, it’s a man, Giacomo.

M.W.: Did he see that? Did he see?

C.C.B.: He did abstraction before the cubs, I mean his world, became. He’s the beginning of abstraction. The two are: Kandinsky, lyrical abstraction, and Balla. It’s totally abstract. It’s like ten years before Mondrian, ten years before, and it is not abstract Cubism is about.

M.W.: A different way of looking at form and that, but so.

C.C.B.: Guitar. He’s talking about a guitar, you know.

M.W.: I agree that that would be something that would be valuable, like it looks honestly to me kind of reminds me a little bit of like later, sort of like, yeah, like the analytic cubism, like Picasso stuff that was even later, wasn’t it like?

C.C.B.: Yes, yes, later later, but of course never could. They never understood movement.

M.W.: So the question I have is that works to me seems like it would be very important. I’ve never heard of that painting before.

C.C.B.: And again.

M.W.: Like I realize I don’t know much about art history, but like how come I’ve heard of other paintings? Like you know Kandinsky and, and I like that, even knowing very little of art, I’ve heard of that. So how come I’ve never seen that painting before?

C.C.B.: Well, the politics of why something becomes important is complicated. One reason is the futurists Giacomo Balla, mainly, whose works, major works are in MoMA and so forth. We’re talking about the twenties and in the twenties, Italy became very isolated. So that’s why you have de Chirico. I mean, you’ve heard of de Chirico, obviously so well. I think Italy became very isolated, like Germany kind of became isolated, and I think it’s a political thing as well. So, the other thing is that art history is written by the, by the winners and in a way the French artists went to America. So, the art historians, I mean it’s people like me, you know, who are art historians, so it’s people like me. So, if you think in the past there was there’s a so-called Eurocentric art history which says that art is very important in France in the late 19th century with the Impressionists, and then that moves into the post-impressionist and then the Cubs. And then they all move to America. And then MoMA starts, and they collect, and they show all these French artist and then the New York School starts and America becomes the center of art after 1945. This until about 1989, when suddenly we’re in globalization, the Wall falls and China rises and then suddenly there’s art also in the rest of the world. Obviously, there was art in the rest of the world throughout the 20th century, in Africa and Asia and in Scandinavia, and so part of our job is now the rewriting of these art histories. So, if you don’t know them, it’s a mistake.

M.W.: Maybe my kids will.

C.C.B.: Well, I mean certainly the futurists were extremely important if you think about, for example, your work or digital art in general, because the futurists were thinking to incorporate movement and change and that you cannot know something in a static way. So, they would think that the cubists are too traditional, because you know you have this cup I can’t show you up cup with. So, the cubist sort of takes apart the cup and makes on a-flat surface all the different facets of the cup, laid out like a pup of a book that you and so in your mind. So, you intellectually understand that the vision of an object is actually a reconstruction in your brain of all these pieces. But that is a very idealistic and platonic almost idea, because nothing is static. You know on a quantum level everything’s moving around and being attracted and taking a partner. So, the future is. I think we’re one step ahead. Partly you know it’s possible because all of our knowledge is situated. So, I think that they were a little bit ahead in the sense that it’s both the decomposition of the object and the putting it back together, but it’s putting it back together in time. You know everything is in movement and that’s like revolutionary. I think it’s very important, but I also think decide, which is the opposite of futurism, is just as important because even more because the kid was the one saying you are all.

M.W.: Great movement or an artist?

C.C.B.: An artist, Giorgio de Chirico. He started something called Metafisica. Here we go, Giorgio.

M.W.: I see it.

C.C.B.: Now I see.

M.W.: I don’t think I’ve heard of this.

C.C.B.: Of course, you have these masks. See, we are the hollow men. Is this ours? I don’t think so, but it’s very similar to ours. Make this one so. This is somebody saying he’s reading a lot of like Friedrich Niche, and philosophers that were criticizing modernity and progress, and his works that are metaphysical are like these, and these images with no time in them.

M.W.: This guy more in the context of like serialism, though?

C.C.B.: Yes, he was the main source for realism. He’s ten years before the realists, ten years before they loved him until they hated him, but they loved him until they hated him. But the point is, let’s just look.

M.W.: They feed on.

C.C.B.: Because at a certain point he decided that he would paint like in the renaissance.

M.W.: Painting serials.

C.C.B.: These are not careless, these are metaphysical. It’s about being outside of time in total stillness. I’ll show you out there. It is this, you see. So, when he started to paint this, like in the style of the renaissance, but obviously it’s not renaissance painting, I mean it’s totally wild. Look at that window through which you can see. You know you can see the sky behind. How is that possible? It doesn’t make any sense that through that window you’d see that sky. And this is this is when they didn’t like him anymore because they thought he was becoming a sort of reactionary painter of the past. But when they loved him, it was this.

M.W.: What do you do with that base?

C.C.B.: 1911 or 1913, something like that. That’s our little bus that takes people to the museum. But the thing is, he’s talking about an alienated individual in the machine age, and this is something that many people are afraid of today. You know, with the digital they were all going to become net, fixed, and stupid and just online school and not having any fun with your friends, and we will become like these hollow men. See these masks. So, he painted. All of these were like mechanical, empty men of alienated factories and lining up, you know. So that’s an important artist. We don’t know so many things. That’s why art history is important, and museums are important, because we put inside the canon things that are not in the canon. I mean to be honest, you’re not totally in the canon, for example. So, if I put work in it or other museum, people do, and so we changed the canon. You know by adding things that we didn’t know and rereading them, rereading the past. For example, feminist curators have dug up all these fantastic artists from the past that nobody had heard about like.

M.W.: Good, and I’m very like. Yeah, I think it will definitely change and I think people overtime will have a more nuanced view of who actually came up with these ideas first, and things will sort of like shift perspectives, overtime, which is sort of value or devalue people based on like. Okay, what was this person valuable, or did just now somebody buy their?

C.C.B.: Sometimes it’s not, it’s valuable to whom and when and where art is somehow stuck between power and opposition. So oppositional thinking, like going against power, being revolutionary, and so on, at least in language, your medium or power and power, is very important, because you have to have the Medici, you know asking you have to have them, you have to have somebody asking somebody to paint a painting. I mean if, if the king of France had not asked Leonardo to do the, the Monalisa wouldn’t exist. So, patronage means catering to power. But at the same time, if you do that too much, somehow you lose your soul. It’s like the story of Faust and the pact with the Devil. And so good art is often really not doing that. You know even Caravaggio or Pasolini. Do you know the filmmaker Pasolini? It’s 100 years from his birth, very soon anyway. So, I think artists are always stuck in between this, this thing, and sometimes you lose your soul a little bit after a while and an artist can get a lot worse.

M.W.: It’s funny because it’s sort of like, especially coming from like the, the commercial world and sort of, you know, doing freelance work for the last 20 years or whatever, 15 years like. I have little to no interest in doing any sort of like commissions or like paint me this or paint me that or do this like, because that’s what I just did for 15 years.

C.C.B.: I mean I do watch a lot of science-fiction movies and I do think we’re going into a world where the material culture might.

M.W.: What have you seen, don?

C.C.B.: Of course.

M.W.: I haven’t even seen it.

C.C.B.: Well, oilers, poor, that’s very original of you, but I mean all I mean to say is that I see our cities. You know, I see when I walk-in the street and things. People are all looking at their phones and nobody’s fixing the gardens and nobody’s fixing the holes in the road. It’s kind of devastating the way that the material world is not being taken care of.

M.W.: I don’t love the idea of like: okay, let’s just like digitize and just chock it because we’re bound now by how the fidelity of what we can sort of like appreciate these things and if we chuck them, then they’re to go on forever. It’s sort of like we’d be taking like a photograph or something of this or scanning it. But like that scan will look like total shit. You know, 50 years in the future it’ll be kind of like we would look at like, you know, crappy old polaroid picture and you’re like I can barely even see what’s going on in this, like I don’t it’s very hard to even like tell what the hell this is.

C.C.B.: As the technology will be so much better.

M.W.: Because the technology will be some like you’ll look at old home movies and they’re all blurry and gender and they look like that. You can barely see anybody’s face and it just looks like crap and you can. You can kind of see that’s what it’ll look like 50 years in the future. It will be like, okay, what were they? What was this thing? I don’t know. Was it liking a rock or like you know, you’ll barely be able to like tell you what it is, because we’ll have a much higher expectation? For if you want to preserve something of and put it in this thing, and I’ll fan scan that thing and you can, like you know, analyze every compound in blahblahblah, so we kind of it’s not just like, oh, we scan it and like here’s our frog and pegs that we saved for the future. It’s like that it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

C.C.B.: Obsolete. Yeah, absolute quickly. That’s interesting perspective. Yeah, so, so I think that is the big challenge in the 21st century. I mean the big. Well, there’s two, you know, there’s the energy problem and climate, and then there’s this care, even while living as well in this other sphere, on that note…

M.W.: …we will talk soon.

C.C.B.: All right. Bye Bye.