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Good Bird

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Date Minted:  April 11, 2020

Artist Description: This good bird is digitally molting. This is commonly observed in good birds of this size.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Before we go any further, know that these colors, extraordinary as they appear, are common within artist Symi’s style. Though the composition of this piece, Good Bird, is relatively complete, much of Symi’s works might be described as half-works, compositions that are purposefully left half-finished, the sketch lines overt and the colors snaking through them but not always filling in all the crevices where we might expect them. Good Bird is not 100% solitary among Symi’s works, but it’s definitely in the minority: pieces which feel fully fleshed-out, fully-colored and fully-drawn and depicting an identifiable subject. And yet, the piece itself seems to be rebelling against its own complete composition. How it frantically pulses outside of itself, flashing in different hues, adopting slightly different shapes, “molting” to use Symi’s own words. As a piece analyzed without context, it’s a quite beautiful and well-composed work of glitch. Within the greater context of Symi’s output, however, it may well represent the artist’s own sensibilities pushing back against the pressures of an outside world which demands a kind of completion or wholeness. Like the subject senses its own suggested conformity and has a strong, strobe-like, antagonistic response to it. Again, to use Symi’s words, “This is commonly observed in good birds of this size.”

And it is a good bird indeed which is depicted here. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that there’s a series of good birds on display, although deciphering just how many is a perhaps futile endeavor. Somewhere between two and 10 seems a good guess. And it’s hard to tell because of the sheer speed with which the piece’s aesthetics morph and molt, presenting us with one good bird, a different one, and another all bang-bang-bang. A suit of red and black feathers flash indiscriminately with a psychedelic array of blue and pink and bright green accents, though these flashes don’t seem to follow a natural cadence, but apply themselves to the original coat of feathers haphazardly, following an irregular rhythm. Meanwhile, the edge of the coat changes with even greater frequency. Phantom feathers descend from its edges and retract suddenly. There is a network of purple feathers involved in this dance. Another set combine a rusty brown and red and black palette, all of them flashing in irregular patterns on and off, so the bird’s entire feathery coat never seems to have the same details or size or coloration twice. Moving upwards, away from the bird’s feathers and up to its skull, this effect is intensified. There’s an even more frenetic dance party of twitchy edges and colors happening up here, as the bird’s single eye pulsates in its own unique rhythm, one different from the nearby beak’s, which is altogether different itself from the top of the skull, the back of the skull, the down of feather’s along the bird’s neck. Altogether, peering at this piece is like watching a beautiful traffic light having an epic malfunction. Perhaps easier to analyze and understand in parts, the entire being, when taken into consideration, presents a kind of colorful, not unappealing self-mutilation, as separate parts reform and disfigure following their own individual internal logics. No two are altogether alike. With all the separate flashing compositions, with all the placed and replaced color palettes, this Good Bird mimics a rave atmosphere, with lights of many different hues pointed at us from many different directions, and it’s probably best to take in the whole effect instead of segmenting it. For our own enjoyment of the piece, we should simply observe the whole kaleidoscopic composition instead of trying to necessarily understand it.

Aesthetically that is. We can (and should?) try and understand the overall effect of this piece, especially considering the aforementioned rare place it occupies in Symi’s oeuvre, and the decisions the artist made concerning the composition, the natural imagery that predominates not just Good Bird but much of Symi’s works. On a slightly separate note, could Symi as a name possibly correspond with the mythical bird of Persian myth, the Simurgh? Obviously, I can’t say for sure, but we see birds time and time and time again being the object of Symi’s interest, and presented in all sorts of deifying ways. Like here, where the Bird itself dominates the composition, and all the various aspects of color and motion only serve to emphasize it and its outsized presence. 

The natural imagery is well worth returning to. Throughout the 83 pieces in Symi’s Superrare oeuvre alone, we find the artist fixated upon birds and lizards, women and mythological monsters, a lot of unpopulated landscapes, wolves, dragons, monkeys, Pepe’s and penguins. That’s without mentioning the cavalcade of abstract shapes which seem just on the edge of seeming to be something. These are the liminal spaces in which Symi works, not just the spaces between completion and progress, but the places between being and becoming. Though Good Bird has an identifiable shape and is an identifiable subject, it is, in a way, the exemplar of this attitude. This bird molting its feathers with such speed and alacrity as it does, could it represent the artist’s interest in capturing scenes which are unfinished, which are changeling, which are between set forms? “This good bird is digitally molting,” Symi tells us in the Artist Description. And boy, does it molt. And it molts. And molts and molts and molts. Every second, a new bird. Every moment we see it, we see something new. Because it’s never finished. And all the glowing, pulsing colors in Symi’s works mean none of their pieces are ever finished. Even the most “complete” of compositions is just held in place. To let it go, to let it change, to let it continue building or to let it fall apart, these are the scenes which hold Symi’s interest. 

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