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The Argument

Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted: February 21, 2020

Artist Description: Here is my point of view

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

A clever piece of digital construction, The Argument is emblematic of enigmatic artist Pak’s simple visual style, their fascination with monochromatic color schemes and simple, metronomic motion. Look through Pak’s oeuvre on Superrare (their medium-bending large-edition experiments aside), and you find what are essentially variations on this theme. Pak’s pieces never seem to be hiding some esoteric meaning. They don’t appear to be overly complex in either theme or detail. They are oftentimes 3-D objects, smooth-surfaced and breathily-animated, moving in a predictable pattern. The Argument is a perfect example of all that makes Pak, well, Pak.

What Pak makes is sculpture more than anything else. I’ve spoken about this elsewhere, but there’s an overt, incorrect preponderance, especially among those outside the Crypto Art space, that Crypto Art pieces themselves are pigeonholed into imitating painting because of how the observer sees them: on a flat screen. Pak subverts this idea, creating 3-D objects that move freely within their liminal, three-dimensional space. Pak’s works are more like someone took a video of a free-standing sculpture; what we’re seeing isn’t the work; what we’re seeing is the work being captured in such a way that it can be easily presented to us. And Pak takes away as much distance between the observer and the piece as possible. Pak often presents their pieces through a clear lens, without distortion, and upon an infinite black background. Some such piece, like The Argument, have a slight reflection upon the space below them, indicating that space’s solidness. Otherwise, the object of interest usually seems to be floating in a void, and like the gift at the bottom of a box, it almost seems we can reach out and touch it, take it out, place it on our desk, our mantle, our shelves. Are they decorative? Are they expressive? Are they meant to be metaverse objects, placed in a virtual home, or art pieces to stand on their own merit, to be displayed in a gallery? Pak, in both style and mystique, leaves those questions completely, deliberately unanswerable.

Pak propels us forth on the path of examination with only the slightest Artist Description. “Here is my point of view,” it reads. And then we’re left to look at the piece, where a 3-D sculpture rotates back and forth, quickly but not illegibly, on an endless loop. From one angle, as the sculpture swivels, it spells out the word “Right.” And as it swivels to the opposite end, it spells out “Wrong.” It takes a few rotations —a few attempts to espy exactly where the image switches digitally from “Right” to “Wrong”— before it becomes clear that both are innate aspects of the same sculpture. What the sculpture reads is merely a matter of perspective. Now the piece becomes doubly fascinating. The construction is incredibly precise: the center peaks of each W are hidden within the long legs of every uppercase T. Some letters are thinned, or even doubled, to achieve this effect. Others do so by being blocky. We only see this interplay of perspective during The Argument’s swivels. Which, admittedly, I love. That, literally, the “Right” and “Wrong” of the thing is besides the point. It’s the relationship between the two, their ultimate sameness, the inability of one to exist without the other —both philosophically and artistically— that is ultimately the most engrossing.

In a space that is so often concerned with the maximalist abilities of digital —the possibility of making grand, baroque, screaming art without needing to put up the extraordinary funds traditionally required for such projects— minimalism in Crypto Art is always refreshing. Pak’s minimalism isn’t a misleading one, nor is it self-centered and self-obsessed the way a lot of Contemporary, conceptualist-heavy minimalism is. Pak’s minimalism doesn’t make it more difficult to understand; if anything, it illuminates and simplifies the work itself, showcasing Pak’s ambitions in the first place. There doesn’t seem to be an attempt here to reach some high-minded artistic concept. There doesn’t seem, in any of Pak’s works, to be the hidden breadcrumbs of an artist who believes themselves enlightened.

Pak seems much more interested in simply exploring space, blank and empty space, filling it with easy, blissful, pacifying objects. Pak is interested in creating a sky and filling it with clouds, so to speak, not placing them there for any academic purpose, but because they’re beautiful, and because the space they’ve made cry out to be filled with something beautiful. Watch The Argument spin back and forth, tick tick tick like a well-tuned watch. It doesn’t have to be more complex than that. It doesn’t want to be. Pak doesn’t seem to have any illusions about what to do with the art they make. Pak wants to make things which are beautiful to look at, calming to notice, and more richly-designed the longer you look at them. The Argument succeeds handily. As does nearly all (if not objectively all) of Pak’s work. This is the lane Pak made in the space, and nobody does it quite as well. (Watch me bring it all together) Is an opinion mine right? Is it wrong? Is there ultimately any sort of difference? Give The Argument 45 seconds of your attention, and then see if your answer has changed. 

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