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Dryad & Satyr

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Date Minted: March 9, 2020

Artist Description: Dryad & Satyr - Immersive Virtual Reality Art by Spaced Painter & CryptoSpectr. VR Filming & Editing by Spaced Painter. Myself & CryptoSpectr teamed up on our first VR collab to create this piece. We both took turns VR painting with timed slots and what started as a portrait idea turned into a full psychedelic VR environment. I have since spent countless hours over the last several weeks on the painstaking VR choreographing, filming & editing process to bring you this Vision. When looking to name our artwork it was clear that we had materialised the female/male dynamic of Nature, a duality represented in many cultures and ancient traditions that is known in Greek Mythology as Dryad & Satyr - these Archetypes hadn't been in our conscious minds initially but we know the Myth dimension is ever present and how it penetrates all true art creation processes. Who will take the Red pill? 😉

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Why can’t art be a playground? Why can’t art envelop its observers? Why do so many people feel that art is best when confined to a screen, to a flat surface, or if not to a flat surface, to the realm of conceptualism: curling silver buildings, enormous abstract sculpture, dense and difficult to decipher performances? Why can’t art flout these things altogether, taking us within it, allowing us to romp around in something beautiful, enriching, a totality, a fantasy? Dryad and Satyr is an art piece deliberately without limits, in terms of its subject matter, its composition, and how we experience it. It is a 3-D romp through a bizarre but fully-realized internal ecosystem, a place which pulses with glowing power, which contains secrets within secrets, mythos within mythos, a place of spiritual rejuvenation and redoubtable mystery. What Dryad and Satyr’s two artists, Spaced Painter and CryptoSpectr, have created is an evocation of the artists’ widest, least-refined creative monsoon. And we’re lucky that they let us inside. 

But if you have any familiarity with the works of these two wizardly VR artists, or if you’ve seen their collaborations, you’d know that this is par the course for their interlocking ideas. The boundlessness of their exploration and creativity is awe-inspiring, as they create all manner of virtual worlds, populating them with life and light, with eye-popping color and ultra-specific detail, whether they are paying homage to Frank Herbert’s Dune or alluding to the Dracula myth or, in the case of Dryad and Satyr, allowing their imaginations to run wild in a piece without specific allusion. Yes, “When looking to name our artwork it was clear that we had materialized the female/male dynamic of Nature, a duality represented in many cultures and ancient traditions that is known in Greek Mythology as Dryad & Saty,” but this is not a direct allusion to any specific myth or story; it is not beholden to specific cues of mood and tone. It is, I’d argue, the unmatched skill of both artists paired with their subconscious tastes.

And for that reason, it’s somewhat hard to describe. There’s just so much of it. The VR space itself is swamp-inflected, glowing with bioluminescence, the kind of sparkling natural imagery that James Cameron’s Avatar brought to life in the mainstream consciousness. Here too, vines hang down from enormous trees, and a river runs with shimmering blue water. Glowing dots of swamp gas, or maybe those are fireflies, are an ubiquitous detail, adding a sheen of mystique to the piece’s early moments, as we are being introduced to its entirety. Very central within the piece is the eponymous Dryad, a female form on all fours in the center of the VR landscape, her skin made of wood, her pelvis covered in a flowing skirt of reeds or large leaves; a waterfall of glowing energy streams out from between her crouched legs. We are being flown through this large landscape as if we are a disembodied sensory organism, flying and floating and seeing what we are made to see (Spaced Artist says, “I have since spent countless hours over the last several weeks on the painstaking VR choreographing, filming & editing process to bring you this Vision.”). And soon we are shown the underside of the Dryad’s torso, where a soft green glow is being emitted onto the swamp floor below her, and all manner of flower and fungi are popping up in her fertile wake. An electric line of bright red energy shoots through her entire being, collecting in a red orb around her womb and exploding outwards through her two breasts, linking eventually to the piece’s other central figure, the cerebral equivalent to the Dryad’s body-focused, sensuality. This is the Satyr, a disembodied skull that hangs on the edge of the piece, green, foliage-coated eyes staring deeply at the Dryad, clearly longing for union between the two. 

But really, describing it in words is so missing the point. The power of this piece is in its specificity, in its overabundance of detail. There are so many small wonders tucked into the fabric of this piece —glowing butterflies, bolts of red lightning, energized angels and the sperm-like photons they exude— that each individual observer surely comes away from the piece with a different relationship to it, having noticed different things, having been tickled by different aspects, having placed importance into totally different areas. Sure, it’s hard not to see that this is a piece about masculinity and femininity, their cosmic linkage being played out across naturo-spiritual imagery, but there’s so much depth to this piece, so much visual energy, that the underlying thematics almost fall by the wayside. They are, at least, subservient to the astounding amount of actual content these artists were able to capture in the piece. And remember, what we’re seeing in this 1 minutes and 30 second video loop is only the artist’s tailored pathway. We can spot, as we move through, other areas, other secret spots, other siren songs singing to us, though we cannot break out of the ascribed route we’ve been assigned to. Just the fact of that, that we’re being shown such a tremendous amount of information and are still being teased by more, is testament to the technical and creative ingenuity of the artists. 

Alas, this art is not made for the flat screen. It’s made to consume an observer, to suck us inside where we can walk around and get lost. Perhaps technology isn’t there yet. But these two artists are only going to get better, their worlds more populated and intense and mystifying. And god willing, we’ll be there and able to walk around in them, to experience them as the artist’s experienced them, with their true unleashed fullness. 

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