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The Initiation

Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted: November 27, 2020

Artist Description: Very few can stare at the Gods. Looping animation and accompanying original musical composition. 2400 x 3000 pixels.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

It’s we who are being initiated, I’m confident saying. Initiated into a dreamlike landscape; soft colors, incomplete figures, solid surfaces with golden cracks running along them like roots. A world that appears to be ruled by underwater physics, some Elysium situated on a cloud, governed, perhaps, by the figures in its center, breasts exposed, skin snaked over with tattoos: either flowers or runes, depending on your perspective. To appreciate The Initiation, we are asked to breathe out our preconceptions of beauty and allow artist Parrot_ism to build up new ones. Here is a deep and imaginative exploration of beauty, one which is unconcerned with realism, with displaying facets of reality, with relaying any information that was not borne out of the artist’s mind. Is this some individual conception of heaven? Perhaps. Is this some other world altogether? It may be. “Very few can stare at the Gods,” Parrot_ism says in their Artist Description. At least, then, we can stare at The Initiation.

Visually, oh man. There’s so much happening in The Initiation, but all of it cohesive, logical, free-flowing. Here you’ll find none of the glitchiness or twitchiness or general madcappery of other Crypto Art. The Initiation foments feelings of calm, peace, as if we’re drifting along a pleasant sea; the physics here do also seem to encourage a kind of marine parallel. Pink and green plants in the bottom two corners of the image waver gently, less like they’re blowing in a breeze and more like they’re wisping around in a soft current. Plants are everywhere in the piece. Huge white trees in full-bloom explode out of the image’s background, casting a lazy white (almost lavender) glow upon everything else, and blocking out a bit of the purple, cotton candy sky behind them. In front of the white trees, a stone archway dappled with streaky, golden lines. They look like cracks in the stone to me, but could very well be vines; certainly, vines would be more in line with the overabundance of natural imagery. The archway sparkles at points, twinkling like faraway cartoon stars, as if denoting the presence of jewels in its surface.

All of which surrounds the image’s central figure, a pink-skinned female form, nude and tattooed. She only, however, has half of a skull; her nose and mouth are visible, but where the top of her head should be is instead a round, pink stump, like her head has been covered in smooth chewing gum. On either side of this figure, two forms made of cracked black stone stand holding her aloft; they have green moss and small white flowers covering them like skin, but mottled as if they’ve been inflicted with mange. It’s unclear, even after ample observation, whether the odd characteristics of these figures are meant to unnerve us or if they’re further dreamlike aspects of an overtly dreamlike world.

They are, admittedly, the only things aesthetically “wrong” in a peace so otherwise tranquil and dreamlike. But when you focus in on them, they seem, well, really wrong. I’m wondering if the pink woman’s deformity has something to do with the Artist Description, one which reads “Very few can stare at the Gods,” and which I had initially not considered much in relation to the piece itself. I had assumed that this was referencing the piece’s audience, as in “Very few can stare at the Gods, but you can, which is why you’re seeing this piece.” But now I wonder if it isn’t an invitation, but a warning. Could we be seeing the effect of an attempt to know more than it is a human’s right to know? Could this be a Fallen Eden scene, in a way? The pink figure, stripped of sight and cognition, becomes a deadened aspect of itself, set purposefully apart from the flowing and livened naturalness. Actually, she seems to be in the state of transformation. Greenery is sprouting from her hands. Pink proto-branches are emerging from the stump of her forehead. At first glance, she appears to be lounging back, but perhaps she is dead, or paralyzed, and being punished for some unknown transgression with a forced metamorphosis. It’s hard to tell, since she’s not actually promoting any specific emotion. And of course, this could be an entirely inappropriate misreading of the piece. But I think it’d be strange to so centrally-place such an overtly demented figure if not to center our thinking around that figure as well. And everything else in this piece is manicured to the point of being literally sparkling. It is only the single quasi-human entity here that denotes the presence of something…off.

The realm of the Gods, it may be “heavenly,” but does that mean it’s better? Parrot_ism may be trying to insinuate the necessity of one’s worthiness when dabbling with forces (perhaps artistic?) beyond our understanding. The resulting consequences are difficult to predict, and even more difficult to understand. 

Or, in keeping with the difficulty of understanding the heavens, I might be dead wrong. The Initiation gives no overt hints. Perhaps that’s the initiation. 

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