Please or Register to create posts and topics.


Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted: August 22, 2019

Artist Description: An animated GIF configured to open a transformation Portal to your highest self.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

To dissect Portal_X is to confront a radical number of different perspectives, all abutting each other. Artist Ryan Seslow has constructed a piece which seems to contradict itself, which is interested not just in reflections, but in disruptions of reflections, in fomenting doubt in our own ability to comprehend what we’re seeing. Behind the apparently innocuous design of Portal_X is a central challenge to our ability to perceive. We are invited past the point of our own perception, to a place of mere acceptance, to an ultimate inability to make sense of something so seemingly simple.

It does seem simple, doesn’t it? An image cut in half and mirrored below itself (or above itself, depending on where you start). A boardwalk extends outwards across a yellow landscape —a few scattered green trees arise from the sides of the walkway— and disappears into a cover of enormous, pillowy clouds. The image is reflected on its x-axis; below it is a perfect mirrored reflection of the image above it. Atop the first image, the upper image, a gif has been superimposed, though it is not static like the background, but a repeating gif overlaid with old-timey film texture, and it displays a radically similar image to that behind it: same clouds, same yellow landscape, same couple of dark trees, except there’s no boardwalk to be seen. In the Gif, the boardwalk has either been superimposed out, or, I suppose, in the original image it has been superimposed in. There’s no obvious answer as to which is true, which only helps to muddle the image’s initial makeup. There are multiple pieces here, multiple images, an underlying entropy to the design which contradicts its overtly placid tone.  Because suddenly, once we realize we aren’t sure what we’re looking at, we start to doubt everything we’re seeing. Are the colors we’re seeing legitimate? What about the clouds, have they been copy-and-pasted? A so seemingly-innocent natural image might actually be the result of intense computer manipulation. Who’s to say? It’s not that we can’t just trust our eyes anymore, it’s that we can’t trust the artist either. Seslow has brought us before a fun-house mirror but has not told us about its distorting effect. Now, we can’t trust anything: artist or intention, ourselves or our reflection. What is truth? What is real? What, exactly, is a construct of the artist’s computational ability and what isn’t?

Seslow seems to be implying that there is no “reality” when it comes to Crypto Art, perhaps digital art in general, because the reality of even a seemingly-innocuous photograph can so easily be enhanced or screwed with, turned around, glitched up, and become something entirely unlike what it once purported to capture. Portal_X is perhaps an un-extreme version of this ideology, but the same truth is hidden behind its simple appearance. I presume that what Seslow is showing us in Portal_X is a photograph of an open field that has been, either here or there, digitally altered to either include this picturesque boardwalk or to remove it. Either the skin or the innards have been placed here after the fact. 

Perhaps Seslow didn’t intend to raise these questions with Portal_X. His works, certainly, do not seem to point towards this kind of exploration, as they appear much more focused on abstraction and surrealism; rarely, if ever elsewhere, do they venture into the photographic. His Artist Description reads, “An animated GIF configured to open a transformation Portal to your highest Self,” which might imply some spiritual component to the image here. But I like to think that, in all cases, Seslow is challenging our perception of the real, either by introducing our perception to intentionally unreal and impossible images, or by reshaping reality in a way which asks us to doubt the reality we engage with everyday, making us consider whether that reality is actually as cohesive as it seems or whether it’s also subject to various perspectives, angles, and internal constructions. Perhaps it’s a stretch to argue that there is no reality (although certain Buddhist schools might say so) other than that which we are seeing in the moment, one which is certainly augmented by our emotional state, by what’s on our mind, by what we’re paying attention to, but there’s a case to be made that Portal_X alludes to such a philosophy. I don’t doubt that many observers of Portal_X will see it for a moment, ignore the strange construction of its reflected and imposed parts, and move along, having believed they’ve seen a well-shot photograph with a unique visual style. And their reality, their version of this image, will be just as valid as ours. Ours: in which Seslow has forced us to doubt ourselves, and the world around us, with as simple an action as taking something out, or putting something in, and letting the detail-oriented among us deal with the repercussions. 

You are not allowed to do this. Please login and connect your wallet to your account.