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Singularity #74

Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted:  January 1, 2021

Artist Description: Every Singularity is unique. Each form’s properties; Symmetry, Chaos, Mass, Force and Turbulence are driven by data extracted from the transaction hash.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

In Hideku Tsukamoto’s work, no image is more widespread and exalted than the humble circle. It appears everywhere throughout the artist’s oeuvre, at least within his four interwoven collections, Cypher, Fusion, Cells Interlinked, and of course Singularity, of which Singularity #74 is an example. While digging through Tsukamoto’s collections, I came upon an interview he did with Artblocks to coincide with the January 1, 2021 release of the Singularity project. In it, Tsukamoto notes how “At college I found technical drawing on paper and pen clumsy and imprecise, so I started looking at CAD programs.” I remember my own experience in a grammar school art class being asked —more as a thought experiment than a physical challenge— to draw a perfect circle. Impossible, of course, without tools, either a compass or software. Thus, what better way to exploring generative art —another impossibility without the assistance of tools— than enlisting it to create what we ourselves cannot: the circle itself. And indeed, Tsukamoto’s work honors the circle. It appears biologically, like in Cells Interlinked. It appears chemically, in Fusion. And here in Singularity, as it appears cosmically. The series itself is a paean to the cosmic. To the happenstance of space juxtaposed with the precision of the perfect circle. Or perhaps I should just let Tsukamoto himself describe it.

In the same interview with Artblocks, Tsukamoto said, “Art Blocks itself was literally the inspiration for this project. This might sound cheesy, but to date I have been visualizing network data offline. Art Blocks has led to my understanding of how the action of purchasing art can be the act that generates it. And this concept of the collector taking such a leap of faith, and then providing their input into the piece is utterly captivating […] But the inspiration for Singularity is space, creation, matter and void […] it's precise, it's logical and often a bit scientific in its influence as well as its execution. Black Holes, Dark Matter, Celestial Mechanics are all absolutely fascinating to me, which I think is pretty evident in my work. I'm also a big cyberpunk and science fiction fan, which often comes across.”

Staring into any Singularity piece, but for our purposes Singularity #74, one can feel the power of the objects Tsukamoto seeks to honor and recreate. One reason for that might be the sequence of absolutes present in the work which we automatically pick up on. Absolute precision of the circle, for example: It’s perfect. Absolute darkness in the chosen shade of black: It’s final. To me, so much of Singularity’s immense energy comes from the interaction between these so-called “perfect” things with the random and chaotic energy we find elsewhere in the piece. You get a sense of movement from that juxtaposition. You get a sense of explosion. You get a sense of narrative, almost. And even though it’s generative artwork, it’s no accident. 

There are really only three parts of Singularity #74: That which is outside, that which is, and that which is within. Do you know what I mean? The first of those parts describes the abject blackness that occupies most of the frame. It is the same blackness that composes the third item as well, and in a collection which takes its name from the infinitely-powerful of a black hole, itself an object which light cannot escape from, that seems fitting. So we have established that most of the piece is essentially a black background, though it’s split by the so-called “star” of the image, a beige sequence of rings —though the varied potential colors and patterns of these rings can be seen in other 1023 iterations of the project— that rope around the black hole’s center. Extremely dense while adjacent to the black hole (to the point of appearing as a block of solid color), as these rings move further and further away from the center of the image, they become less and less tethered to place, moving in unpredictable patterns like coiled lightning bolts, jagged and appearing almost 3D. In the #74 version of Singularity, these repeating rings bend towards the right edge of the frame. Eventually, by the time we get to the last of them, the quasi-3D effect is doing wonky things to our perception. The image seems at once to be descending into our screen and also emerging out at us. It seems almost like an ovum; at least this version, cloaked in beige, does. From a distance, squinting just a bit, one could even conceivably believe the image to be an eye, like from some giant squid, some leviathan, some kraken. 

Some pieces in the collection are perfectly symmetrical, others are tiny, some huge, some neon-colored, but Singularity #74 seems special to me just because of its lack of otherwise defining features. The peach color of its rings and the flaccid, unexciting turn towards one edge of the image. It is not huge, nor is it overwhelming. But it is kind of haunting, and the more so because of its human-skin hues. And more so because we do have to get close to our screen in order to pick up on its compositional nuances. And more so because, well, of all the things a generative program could create under these guidelines, it created this: a median. Knowingly or not, it exhibited self-restraint. Hell, most artists can’t do that to begin with. 

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