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The five elements of electric alchemic cryogenics.

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Date Minted:  June 1, 2020

Artist Description: 3D digital artwork created entirely in cinema 4d and Octane Render. 5.500 X 3.912 rendered pixels.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Rarely does artist Francesco Mai absolve himself of his generally-human subjects. Even rarer still is when his ensuing artwork concerns is noticeably landscape-oriented. And so The five elements of electric alchemic cryogenics is by its very nature an oddity. Of course, we can see simply by looking at it that there are strangenesses therein which we can’t quite quantify, but even within the context of Mai’s works it’s an outlier. In subject matter that is. Technically, compositionally, these kinds of wondrous explorations of light, texture, and symbology are Mai’s great contribution to crypto art. A self-proclaimed “3D digital artist and academy of fine Arts professor in 3d modeling and rendering,” Mai’s crypto artwork sometimes seems like the artist just showing off, composing pieces out of insanely complex series of interwoven shapes, lines, and sci-fi-seeming symbols, and that’s without dwelling on the photorealism of his textures, the brilliant reflective qualities present when he uses light, and his mastery of color. This man’s palette is wide-ranging and all-encompassing. When he turns it on human figures —or quasi-human figures— it’s somewhat easier to quantify his fascination with bodies, their own composition and deconstruction. Without the guidestone of the human form, however, Mai’s intentions are less clear and more abstract. But, then again, so is the image in front of us. The five elements of electric alchemic cryogenics takes a very high-concept title and applies it to a very high-concept artwork. It’s impressionism come to the 21st century, using 21st century technology to achieve its goals. The crucial difference, of course, between a piece like The five elements of electric alchemic cryogenics and the impressionist masters of the past, however, is that they were painting what they saw in front of them, and all the tiny machinations of light and weather which affected their world. Mai has no such cane to lean upon. His impressionistic painting is purely a mental creation. This is the making real of an idea that’s so far in the artist’s imagination it threatens complete inaccessibility to everyone else. 

We’ll see about that.

And there’s no better way to begin exploring  than to actually specify what we’re looking at within The five elements of electric alchemic cryogenics, because as much as it may seem like abstraction —and I’m sure much of it is— one can almost sense the thumping of a certain discernible logic underneath it. Like the color scheme for instance, which centers around the contrast between various shades of rust —some shiny like copper, others electrified and neon; in places mottled, in others quite bright or inflected with veins of silver— and the blueishness of dark clouds, of thick ice. The dark clouds do hang in the background somewhat ominously, threatening the kind of chaos that comes with a sizable storm. And a sheet of ice is the location upon which this piece is set, some large, flat iceberg somewhere, white and shimmering, reflecting the lights above it. There’s even a wetness to the ice, implying that it’s being heated by the objects on its surface. “Objects.” Obelisks is more like it. Five of them, these the The five elements of electric alchemic cryogenics of the title, one must presume. The five of them are completely nonstandard, standing there in a line. Each is made out to look like some kind of rectangle, with the right-most of these pillars much shorter, squatter, and wider than the other four, which all stand straight and tall. They seem, from base to midsection, to be composed of interlocking circles, shapes, geometry we can only guess at even if we zoom-in close and bring our eyes right up to our screen. These sections of each pillar are made of some bronze metal, though the exact nature of their composition is forever alien to us, too complex to really get, so much so they appear generative to an extent. From midsection upwards, the obelisks become a kind of marked glass, transparent thought overlaid in arcing lines of copper and silver. I’m reminded of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I’m reminded of Dead Space, the sci-fi horror videogame from early last decade. Both feature these kinds of unknowable obelisks, charged with some ineffable power, and have a vaguely ominous evocation based on just the power we can sense within them. A wild network of neon-glowing lines, like jolts of orange electricity, shoots all throughout the series of obelisks, scribbled into the background and releasing major energy. In one spot along the left side of the image, a great bunch of these lines shines so brightly it appears to burn away the dark clouds behind it. 

I thought perhaps that by explicating the items within this piece, they would reveal something to me. But I’m only more confounded. Perhaps that’s the goal. A title like The five elements of electric alchemic cryogenics, which seems deliberately dense —in an academic sense— may provide the key to such a reading. We know Mai is capable of walking the fine line between hyper-intricate composition and recognizable, affecting imagery. For him to go off into the wilderness like this —no pun intended— and unencumber himself of familiar imagery, well perhaps there’s no other way that could turn out but unintelligibly. Electricity needs circuits and wires to control its currents, otherwise it’s unchained and wild. Perhaps Mai operates under the same principle. 

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