Amid the NFT-Noise, Crypto Art Pioneer Sven Eberwein Unveils his First Solo Show
April 27, 2021
Sven Eberwein introduces himself throughout the web with the catch phrase "works of the internet, by the internet, for the internet". The more one learns about the digital artist, the more obvious it gets that he is an embodiment of the electronic highway we live in. An example of an aspect of online culture that we'll look back upon as characteristic for the first decades of the 21st century. By day, Eberwein works for Tesla as a digital design modeller, in his spare time, he pioneers new projects within the crypto art community. Eberwein is the first artist to release his work with $MEME, an experimental protocol mashing up some of the most exciting innovations in DeFi and crypto collectibles. Most recently, he featured in CoinGecko's inaugural artist spotlight. Nevertheless, evidence for how the Internet was programmed into Eberwein's being starts long before any of the current storms.
Majority of the software used by artists in the NFT space is the same software package used for visual effects - the CGI you see in the movies. What I wanted to do with Abstract Noise is repurpose one of the fundamental tools used in those packages and use it like paint in my digital drawings. My core intention was to evolve my work to non-descriptive. It's the same with the evolution of art - at first, artists would make realistic works of art, and then they progressed to abstract works.
Born in 1992 in Stuttgart, Eberwein's imagination and ambition were first stirred as a child by video games: "I vividly remember the first time I opened up Maya in my early teenage years. I had seen a video on YouTube where somebody had built a wonky 3D Model and replaced it with an existing one in GTA. I didn't know how, but I knew I wanted to do the same," he says. From that moment, he started soaking in whatever the Internet had to offer about 3D software and computers. Despite the lack of formal computer-graphic design schooling or any programming education, Eberwein paved his way towards working for the world's leading car manufacturers (before joining Tesla, he spent six years at Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz).
My life and career were enabled by the Internet. I'm in the generation that has experienced education (especially technical, software, etc.) becoming far more accessible for the first time, and I think it will become even better in the future.
It's part of a mentality intertwined with the very fabric of the Internet. In many of his interviews, Eberwein mentions the idea of Zeitgeist. He has a feeling of responsibility towards capturing this unique moment in the development of the digital realm. "I think we are living through some sort of internet renaissance. During the past years, the Internet became a quasi-oligopoly confined by nation-states. We start to see some resistance against that, and a lot of that resistance is manifesting itself through crypto & decentralization" says Eberwein.
This Zeitgeist is characterized as much by him being a child of the Internet as by the fact that he first heard about NFTs from a friend during the last Burning Man Festival pre-covid. His observations also tie in with the dematerialization of the world and the exploration and migration to and off new (digital) surroundings. Taking advantage of the rising fluidity between digital and physical, Eberwein utilized the technology behind NFTs to bring carbon projects to life. His Scarce Resources #01 - One Second of Petroleum work had 484t of CO2 offset attached to the NFT, which equalled the carbon emitted by one second of global petroleum consumption.
For the series Abstract Noise, Eberwein returned to the fundamentals of the digital. While lifelike CGI is ubiquitous in this day and age, that does not always mean its process of creation has become particularly more complex. Eberwein explains that a lot of what we see is pre-fabricated: the basic building blocks in many programmes are ready for use without any programming. Think of it as building a castle out of Legos from pieces from a box designed to build a castle, instead of with any number of basic Lego blocks.
For Abstract Noise, Eberwein threw the prefab box out of the window and set out in search of ways to melt down the plastic himself. He sought out an algorithm that would bring him back to the most basic building blocks of graphic design and found it in Pixel Stream Editor.
Though his usual work is figurative, evoking the memey goofiness so characteristic of his internet home, it made more sense to experiment with abstract shapes for this project. Because Pixel Stream Editor is slightly outdated and very rudimentary, it allowed him all the freedom of starting from absolute scratch. Abstract Noise was a crusade back to the very limits of what simple programming can create. The undulating textures he designed to lend themselves best to offering a peek behind the curtain of graphic design. What you see in the shapes of Abstract Noise consists entirely of carefully layered pixels, layer upon layer hand-crafted. It's a wall of sound for the eyes instead of the ears - in a way, it gives homage to the many minds and hands we owe our digital environments to.
As New York Times' Erin Griffith rightfully noted, we're living in the YOLO FOMO LOL economy. Abstract Noise is a mirror, a step back to encapsulate and reflect on the present before moving forward with the inevitable.
Explore Abstract Noise here NFT Auction via OpenSea begins April 28 here
Aleksandra Artamonovskaja & Nina Lissone
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