AVA Spotlight | Sept 2022

ONBD
4 min readSep 25, 2022

Hello and welcome to our newsletter devoted to Audiovisual Art! Written by myself — Dan Chen, aka Shaolun, one of the co-founders of ONBD. As a musician and composer as well as an art gallerist, this is a new series that focuses on a genre of digital art that is near and dear to my heart.

With a few exceptions (Hito Steyerl, Doug Aitken, Rafaël Rozendaal), up until recently I had often been disappointed by new media art (and IRL installation art), due the audio components of the artworks being completely underwhelming. Whether it was because the artists themselves didn’t consider audio or music to be important to their work, which is their choice of course, but sometimes a missed opportunity, or because the curator/exhibitor presented it poorly, sound has too often been an ‘afterthought’ when it comes to contemporary art, at least in my experience.

A couple of developments have begun to change all of that — the first being the rise of digitally native artists. Audiovisual artists, who consider sound and images both to be crucial to their artworks, have found a means of expression in the digital realm over the last decade. The second (in my opinion) is the rise of Web3. For the first time, digitally native artists now (via NFTs) have an elegant, secure method of selling their artworks, and perhaps more importantly, have found a community that values and rewards collaboration. Artists and musicians are working with one another to create Audiovisual pieces, facilitated by platforms like SuperRare, who started an initiative in 2021 to encourage these types of collaborations.

At risk of oversimplification, I’ll save the more in-depth analysis for future articles, because I want to get to the art sooner rather than later! I’m going to feature just two pieces here today, and then we’ll see how things develop, maybe I’ll talk about 2–3 of my favorite new works per month, or invite artists to do interviews every so often; I’m leaving the format open for now!

So, without further ado, the first piece I want to talk about is The Egg’s Adventure in Bugland / M7 Planet, by Riniifish and @mypandashallfly, aka Suren Seneviratne. This work was made in 2021, and it’s one of the first collaborative AVA pieces that I saw pop up on Foundation. For those of you unfamiliar with Riniifish, she’s an artist based in Hangzhou, China who has created an alternate universe (a planet she calls M7) populated by colorful, ethereal bug-like creatures. Suren Seneviratne is a Sri Lankan London-based experimental artist and sound designer obsessed with glitch, tech and sci-fi.

In this short, looping piece, Rinii’s signature ‘bugs’ are set against a swirling psychedelic background that Suren has scored with some playful sound design. He adds a rhodes-like keyboard to create a pulsing, ambient soundscape that gives the piece a dreamy hypnotic vibe. The collaboration is deceivingly simple; but every time I revisit the piece my eye is drawn to something new. Riniifish creates depth as she rotates between ‘solid’ and translucent layers, and her airbrushed style adds an otherworldy effect to her strange cast of characters. Suren’s choice of sounds and instruments is thoughtful and deliberate, and really sets the mood of Rinii’s soupy, bug-filled planet.

Minted 10/1/21 on Foundation: https://foundation.app/@riniifish/foundation/93028

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Next up is Fornax Void Oodaahk the Renovator.

This piece was introduced to me by Poppel, one of my favorite ‘pixel’ artists in web3.

The description is helpful here:

600 frames loop, 96 colors palette, 5 layers, 2 dithering patterns. Music recorded with the E-mu Morpheus, Akai S1000 and Roland JV-2080.

I have no idea which of these synths is the one creating this warm bath of audio heaven, but the effect was one that immediately stopped me in my tracks, and turned my surroundings into a slow motion film. I can remember twice when this has happened before — the first was a long time ago driving around in Brooklyn circa 2000 and an ambient Radiohead track came on… and the other more recently at Mass MoCA experiencing In the Light of a Shadow, by artist Glenn Kaino — during the ‘performance’ there was a moment when these analog synths hit, and my surroundings were transformed. In this case, Fornax Void’s digital landscape comes alive with the music. The rotating sphere with the weird blinking eyes appears to be benevolent when paired with the simple chord progression. Visually, the pulsing, moving shadows of the landscape are hypnotic, and the shooting stars in the background create a feeling of depth. It’s hard to believe that the artist made this out of pixels. Here’s the link on teia:

The Oodaahk the Renovator NFT is released in conjunction with a 10 minutes ambient track: https://youtu.be/p8pGY7AQV1c

I’ll end it here for my first entry; future articles will feature more artworks than just two, as I’m discovering more and more AVA pieces every day! I plan to incorporate some interviews, artist insights etc as well, so please stay tuned. For submissions to feature your artwork or a piece by someone you know, please email me at info@onbd.art.

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