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1111 #0377

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Date Minted:  March 26, 2021

Artist Description: 1111 unique works. Cryptographic alphanumerics sublimate into a lingual arcana and repository of sacred knowledge — The artist’s hexadecimal testimony.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Kevin Abosch is not your friend.  Not here at least. This is not a friendly artwork. This is an antagonist, designed to mess with your head and make you doubt how you think. This is a bewitching piece, but one who dances scantily-clad in a window it knows you won’t be able to penetrate. Or even come near. Does that make sense? 1111 #0377 is abstraction you’re not meant to sort your way through. It is not Kandinsky with his colors, nor is it Mondrian with his geometry. Using generative techniques to further mystify an already mystifying style, Abosch has crafted a series of 1111 pieces composed almost entirely of random numerical sequences; any patterns or places of recognition in them are totally accidental, the spontaneous reaction of an unstoppable mind meeting an immovable artwork. What happens to us when we confront artwork that has been composed beyond us, and intentionally? What happens to our relationship with the art itself, and also to our relationship with the artist? What is gained by an artist being purposefully obstructionist? These are questions I’ve never before found myself asking when examining a piece of work, not in the 170-or-so Genesis Collection pieces that I’ve already analyzed. And yet, with only a couple of numbers, a few letters, all positioned into the mold of a hashtag, I’m catapulted into a new world of self-doubt, uncertainty, and artistic agnosticism. God only knows what’d happen to me if I went and  sorted through Abosch’s other 1110 pieces. 

You too could spend a serious chunk of time trying to discern patterns from within the piece’s physical composition. Perhaps you also saw the word “bad” in there and then, excitedly, found your gaze falling elsewhere on “baf” and now you’re trying to think whether there’s some connection to be made between these two phonemes, one a word and one, as far as I know, not. Perhaps these are ETH wallet addresses, or fragments of them; a good guess. But the classic “0x” doesn’t seem to be present anywhere. Or perhaps it is, and I’m just unable to find it. 1111 #0377 has a way of disorienting you. It’s not quite as strong here as it is in other pieces —many others in this series are solid walls of random letters and numbers presented lengthwise— but still, arranged to mimic the “#” sign, the stilted and irregularly-sized strings of integers produce an intensely confusing effect. It’s difficult to find one’s place if one should lose it. It’s difficult to find some coherent way of moving through the piece. In literal construction, however, it’s not so complex: 6 rows of 6 integers, followed by 3 rows of 48 digits, another 6 rows of 6, another 3 rows of 48, a final 3 rows of 6, and in between them a sheet of undetailed black. 

I, of course, figured that the lengthwise sequence of numbers might mimic the length of an ETH address. I guessed wrong. And that seems to be the point: every attempt I make to dig further into this piece, I’m thwarted. But I guess that serves me right for bringing silly logic to a piece which seems interested in thwarting logic altogether. But that’s a very-most human quality: the pattern-seeking mind seeks to establish a rational base of understanding for the world around us. When we can’t, we invent new spheres for that rationality to occupy. Impossible to know what happens after we die, for example? Humans invent all manner of rational ways to understand it: Heaven, reincarnation, judgment of some kind. 1111 #0377 seems to have been created with the determination to confound that way of ordering the world. It doesn’t just refract one’s attempt to imbue it with rationality, but there are enough sufficiently-unlike areas of the piece to actively undermine those silly attempts of ours. 

And thus, another computer-generated piece forces us mere observers into self-reflection. Ah, the human-instigated capacity of the machine to make us see ourselves in a new way. Like a Chinese Finger Trap, the harder we attempt to make meaning out of a piece like 1111 #0377, the tighter it grips us, the further we get from uncovering whatever truths it consciously or subconsciously is trying to teach us. We have to let go and accept this piece for what it is (or what it certainly seems to be; what’s the difference?): gibberish. 

There is no reason here, or at least none that is immediately forthcoming. Instead, there’s entropy, though it’s entropy that’s been assigned comforting and knowable forms: numbers and letters. We are humans: when we see numbers, we view them as part of an equation, and when we see letters, we form words. 1111 #0377 reduces these known quantities to the level of symbology, to little more than wall scribblings. It’s an ironic outcome for a piece of artwork built on the back of some of the most advanced technology human beings have ever created. But there’s another irony to uncover, using that most modern of technologies to undo our associations with those eldest and least controversial of inventions: the ability to order the world quantitatively and qualitatively. Abosch isn’t interested in holding our hands as he disrupts our little logical worlds either. At least in 1111 #0377, he picks the most impersonal of color schemes, black and white, as if to say: Don’t blame me, I’m a mere messenger for the truth, and just as it is more powerful than you, it is more powerful than me too. 

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