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Hypericum Perforatum

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Date Minted: July 29, 2019

Artist Description: 9 magical herbs, 9 fantastic tales, 9 mysterious artworks. An art project dedicated to St. John’s herbs by HEX0x6C (coding and story writing) and Combugnera (digital painting and story writing). Made unique, immutable and immortal thanks to the Ethereum blockchain. A meeting between popular wisdom and cutting-edge technology. This is the first magical herb: Hypericum Perforatum.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

A massive exploration of two sparring, juxtaposed styles: What else would you expect from a collaboration between “HEX0x6C (coding and story writing) and Combugnera (digital painting and story writing)”? Hypericum Perforatum is that highest aspiration of an artistic collaboration, one in which the artists involved can be observed speaking to each other almost in real time through their individual contributions, through their styles, through the unique sensibilities each brings to their responsibilities within the piece. The conversation which then ensues is so much richer because of the intertwined voices. And as their playground, the two artists have chosen a world of “9 magical herbs, 9 fantastic tales, 9 mysterious artworks.” Their conversation is one that spans styles, that spans epochs, that spans worldviews. It would be a mistake to look at this piece and see mere repetitions (as I fear some might). Instead one must look to the relationships and the interactions, to the places from whence each artist’s style stems, and then we can see whole worlds revealed beneath all the many spindly branches depicted here.

Okay, so Hypericum Perforatum is a conversation, and the two voices exist at opposite ends of what might be called a maturity spectrum. HEX0x6C’s style is intensely technical; HEX is an artist known for their algorithmic work, and it’s HEX who contributes the twelve fractal-esque trees which dot the image as if they are dotting some grassland or savannah. Zooming in close, one gets the sense that these trees may be algorithmically-generated, but either way, they demonstrate a mastery of technology, or at least a mastery of one of technology’s intricacies, whatever is needed to create something so, well, technically intricate. On the other hand, Combugnera has created a series of plant images that are beautifully and sweetly juvenile in their composition, clearly hand-drawn and very simple —a few lines and curves, no real adhesion to mimesis— but overflowing with the joy of creation: wonky shapes and spindly lines and neon color schemes. Similarly to HEX, Combugnera’s contributions are sprinkled throughout the landscape, and perhaps it’s only an effect of the bright colors, but they seem to dominate the foreground, or bend the concept of a foreground around them, protruding from the homogeneous ochre background, whereas HEX trees seem rather benign and environmental by comparison.

Techniques: One artist, HEX, is concerned with exploring computer-generated graphics, things that are tightly-controlled and tightly-expressed, without the abundance of color or imagination that characterizes the other’s. And then the Combugenera, whose work here is silly and doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s beautiful and it’s interesting, sure, but there’s no awesome artistic technique on display. We are shown the adept of feeling and the adept of composition at the same time.

History: Clearly, HEX’s contribution is one that could come only from the present moment, or at least the present moments of the last fifty-years or so. Before that, there was no technology adept enough to create images like the tessellated trees which we see here. Whereas Combugnera’s contributions are almost prehistoric, positioned here like cave-drawings, occupying a completely different end of the historical spectrum. Together, beside each other, touching and overlapping as they do, the two artists have managed to marry the primordial with the progressive, the first with the future, showcasing art’s genesis and where it’s going. 

Sensibilities: Perhaps “serious” is not the ideal word for HEX’s work, but, in a sense, it is, for this is an artist interested in leveraging the marriage of man and machine to create something new and transgressive. There are no empty flourishes in HEX’s work here, it’s all business, so to speak. Lines are tight, colors are muted, and intricacy is valued over imagination. Combugnera, meanwhile, forgoes intricacy altogether; their work is literally the antithesis, with curved lines and wild colors and with almost absent intricacy, a full-minded focus instead on imagination. 

When I see this piece, I’m transported to two worlds at once: the moon and the beginning of recorded time. There is something pervasively “natural” about the composition as well, though perhaps that stems from the color choices, the mottled earth-tones. 

And yet, despite that muted color scheme, there’s something exuberant here, or at least something which strikes me as exuberant. Perhaps it’s the interaction between the colors, or just the general energy which flows between the artists, but when I see them in lockstep with each other, both styles seem more joyful and more alive. The styles bring out not only the artists but each artist’s call to creation, what makes them tic and what makes them thrilled and what excites them about their artistry. I’m not saying such a thing is impossible to find elsewhere, but it isn’t exactly ubiquitous. And seeing it, whenever and wherever, is always a cause for celebration. 

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