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XP Bliss Slug

Museum Link: https://app.museumofcryptoart.com/collection/permanent-collection?collection=0xb932a70a57673d89f4acffbe830e8ed7f75fb9e0&token=9450&page=2

Source Link: https://superrare.com/artwork-v2/xp-bliss-slug-9450

Date Minted: April 12, 2020

Artist Description: Bliss is the default computer wallpaper of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system. It is a virtually unedited photograph of a green hill and blue sky with clouds in the Los Carneros American Viticultural Area of California's Wine Country. Charles O'Rear took the photo in 1996 and Microsoft bought the rights in 2000. Due to the success of Windows XP, over the next decade it was claimed to be the most viewed photograph in the world during that time. In XP Bliss Slug nature has claimed back the hills and Monitor Slugs have returned to their feeding grounds

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Probably more than any other art movement since Pop Art, Crypto Art has a sense of humor. That’s partly owing to its penchant for self-reference —Crypto Artists love creating in the language of blockchains, which is, itself, a language heavily influenced by the narcissism, irreverence, memes, and the plain comedy of Twitter— and partly owing to the backgrounds of its creators. These are, on the whole, young people, many who would classify themselves millennials, who grew up in the crucible of an internet-gripped world, i.e. a world that is, wholly, narcissistic, irreverent, and darkly, surrealistically absurd. We create in the languages we speak, and Crypto Artists speak a laughing language. It’s from this mindset that stunningly unique works of creative inspiration come about, pieces like XP Bliss Slug, by Sven Eberwein, which is art at its most joyful, which is its most unbound, which is its most expressive. XP Bliss Slug is not some example of technical brilliance, nor does it touch on any deep truths about the human experience. Nevertheless XP Bliss Slug is the kind of piece that lodges in your psyche, that you think about every once in a while and smile at, that is a perfect, pure distillation of the artist’s sensibilities, which makes it a perfect, pure distillation of what Crypto Art is about in the first place. 

Of XP Bliss Slug, Eberwein says, “Bliss is the default computer wallpaper of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system. It is a virtually unedited photograph of a green hill and blue sky with clouds in the Los Carneros American Viticultural Area of California's Wine Country. Charles O'Rear took the photo in 1996 and Microsoft bought the rights in 2000. Due to the success of Windows XP, over the next decade it was claimed to be the most viewed photograph in the world during that time. In XP Bliss Slug nature has claimed back the hills and Monitor Slugs have returned to their feeding grounds.” Of his own work, Eberwein says, “Works of the internet, by the internet, for the internet.” And this is a piece somehow of, by, and for the internet all at the same time. What the description of the piece means practically is that it adopts the background of “Bliss,” which, as mentioned, was the Windows XP default background, a picture that has omnipresent real estate in the minds of anyone who used a computer throughout the early 2000’s. It’s instantly recognizable, “Bliss” is, and it conjures associations to all manner of early internet nuances: the dial-up tone, Clippy, Microsoft Paint, and Internet Explorer; relics. Here, the background has been co-opted, and atop it has been placed an old, ancient kind of computer monitor, tan and blocky and bearish. You can almost hear its hard-drive wheezing. The computer itself displays “Bliss” on its own screen. Immediately, however, the computer breaks from realism. It has a rubbery nature to it, bouncing and scrunching into itself. As if it were an animal —a cat or, perhaps yes, a slug— it crouches down close to the earth, still rubbery and bendy and soft like a water bed, and begins sliding forward, an animal romping through the hills. In Eberwein’s words, “Monitor Slugs have returned to their feeding grounds.” Remember, however, this is no hyper-advanced creature but something dumb and derpy. As it bounds towards the left side of the screen, the computer stumbles and falls flat on its face (screen). With its wriggling butt in the air, it slides its screen across the ground, pushing itself out of frame. 

These wonky motion effects are common in Eberwein’s works, as are the kind of internet-referential imagery seen here. Memes and in-jokes abound, as do lifted images from Reddit. This —and Eberwein’s work is a quintessential example— is the new kind of Pop-Art. Where the originalists of Pop Art sought to elevate commercial imagery to the level of fine art, Eberwein and Pop Crypto Artists seek to do the same thing with internet culture: things on Twitter and seemingly silly references to trends, meme-of-the-days, inside jokes, etc. There’s a long history of this dating back to some of the earliest NFTs, the Rare Pepe’s, which took meme culture and assigned it a quasi-rarity and imbued it with some artistic ideation. Huge sales ensued. Historical significance followed. Its fine-art-hood became inarguable. 

Ditto a piece like XP Bliss Slug. The original “Bliss” was a beautiful photo that Windows devalued to the level of advertisement by packaging it with every sold Windows XP OS. It lost its artistry and its extraordinary beauty as a result of its becoming commonplace. Eberwein frees it from this association, using his own knowledge of internet culture to once again imbue the image with individuality. By gaining irreverence, the original “Bliss” splits from the tightly-controlled and well-packaged version of itself that most internet users formed an association with. The original “Bliss” was not so creative. Nor was it so funny. Nor did it have such mental staying power. In crafting an original piece atop a background of “Bliss,” Eberwein saves the original work, imbuing it with new life. Just as Warhol forever changed the meaning inherent in Campbell’s Soup cans, Eberwein is making an effort to forever save “Bliss.” Does he succeed? Well, when was the last time you pictured “Bliss” in your head? When was the last time you stopped to admire a stock desktop wallpaper? And the next time you do, will it be as it was, or will it be with a Monitor Slug sliding slimily across it? XP Bliss Slug has done us, and photographer Charles O’Rear, a great service.