Curated Conversations: Emily Xie

Curated Conversations: Emily Xie

Above: “Synthetic Dialogue” by Emily Xie, 2023. Live on SuperRare now.

Curated Conversations: Emily Xie

10 months ago
Emily Xie is a visual artist living in NYC. She works with algorithms to create lifelike textures and forms. She is interested in how disparate materials and patterns come together to create unified visuals, and the stories that each might bring into the fold. She draws inspiration from physical media such as textiles, collage, and wallpaper, and examines them within a digital context.

Her generative systems often navigate many delicate balances at once: the interplays between chance versus control, the organic versus the systematic, and the abstract versus the representational.

Xie’s creative coding work is collected and shown internationally. Most recently, she has exhibited at Kunsthalle Zürich, Unit London, the Armory Show, Bright Moments, Art Blocks Curated Season 6, Vellum LA x Artsy.net, Times Square, the StandardVision Artist Showcase throughout the city of Los Angeles.

Prior to pursuing art full-time, Emily built a career as a software engineer while exploring and teaching herself creative coding on the side.

Shutong Liu: You studied History of Art and Architecture. How has that informed your artistic practice?

Emily Xie: Studying art history meant that I had a pretty strong awareness of art and how it’s been interpreted through time. Art is always in dialogue with other art, so it’s enriching to have been able to deeply consider the works of important creatives that came before me. It allowed me to think a bit about how their practices are contextualized within the history of art, which in turn informs how I might respond to the greater body of artwork out there.

I also think that having this background means that I naturally take inspiration from historic movements of the past. For example, my palettes are often based on old paintings or Japanese woodblock works. I think this tends to create an interesting dynamic in my pieces because while I work in a medium that is inherently contemporary due to its computational nature, it also tends to be fused with visual references of the past.

“Memories of Qilin #1008” by Emily Xie, 2022.
SL: You released “Memories of Qilin” with ArtBlocks in March last year, since then, you have collaborated with BrightMoments and Cactoid Labs for “Off Script” and “Interwoven,” plus editions and 1/1 artworks with PROOF and Unit London and many other projects. It must have been a busy year for you. Could you speak about some of your most memorable moments for you in the past year?

Emily Xie: It has been an absolutely crazy year for me. Probably the most memorable moment for me was seeing my mini-series, “Assemblage,” up at the Armory Show in NYC through Cortesi Gallery. I’ve always enjoyed going to this art fair in the past, so it was pretty humbling to be able to attend the venue last year, but with my art up on display. I later found out that one of the buyers was from the traditional art world; she bought a piece simply because she loved the aesthetic and wanted it displayed in her home, knowing nothing about NFTs or generative art. Seeing a wider appreciation of my artwork that transcended a purely digital audience was pretty rewarding.

SL: To follow up on the previous question, how have you, as an artist, changed in the past year? 

EX: Honestly, I’ve grown tremendously as an artist in the past year. For the longest time, I had engaged with generative art as a hobby on the side: something that I would dip in and out of whenever I had spare time while working as a software engineer, or whenever I got the chance to take a break from the programming industry. I did it simply because I enjoyed it: I loved tinkering and exploring, and generative art allowed me to do that in a way that directly combined visual and algorithmic thinking. And I’d say that over the past year, I’ve managed to truly crystalize my voice as an artist. I’ve been lucky to be able to develop a style that resonates with me and represents what I care about: I love patterns, lush textures, and textiles––and being able to combine these elements into organic, bold visuals. But I also believe that I continue to refine my style as I go. Every new piece that I put out is an external representation of growth for me as an artist. In some ways, I’m just getting started, and I’m excited to see where my art goes next.

“Off Script #31” by Emily Xie, 2022.
SL: How do you think the landscape of generative art within art history changed since NFTs? Where do you think generative art will go next? What are some trends within this genre that are becoming popular?

EX: The blockchain has certainly impacted generative art. For one, it brought awareness of the medium to a much larger audience. I don’t think there has ever been this much interest in generative art––for the longest time, I had to explain to people what the term meant. The increased awareness generally propelled generative art as a field; there is so much innovation and experimentation going on. The art that is coming out these days is incredible. On top of that, I feel that generative art is starting to get increasingly recognized by institutions.

In terms of trends, many practitioners in the past year have focused on trying to recreate static traditional media in a generative form. There’s always an appetite for this, but I do predict artists will start moving in the other direction and experimenting with works that take advantage of the specifics of the medium itself: so, perhaps we’ll see more interactivity or animation. Or maybe folks will veer in a different direction, and we’ll start seeing more pieces that are not purely generative art but instead incorporate aspects of it.

SL: Tell us about this piece you are releasing on SuperRare? Is this your first time experimenting with AI-generated assets?

EX: Yes, the piece is called “Synthetic Dialogue.” The work combines AI-generated assets with algorithmically-generated paper to create a collage. While I’ve played with AI before, this piece was exciting for me because it was the first time I’ve experimented with merging both AI and generative art into a single piece.

For the AI assets, I used DreamStudio to create a variety of abstract visuals inspired by Kandinsky and Klimt. I pulled some generative papers that my algorithms have produced. Once I had a set of interesting assets, I then cut all of the pieces digitally using Procreate, layering and combining each item into a composition that I felt was balanced and intriguing. It was a pretty rewarding experience as it let me work with my hands a bit more directly. This was a process that I had craved for a while given that my work is usually intermediated by code!

SL: As you rightly pointed out in a previous interview, artists who use computational technologies as tools to create, one finds themselves constantly learning new things. You said “technology moves fast and relentlessly shapes the landscape around us, so there’s a constant pressure to keep up in the face of such rapid change.” Could you speak about finding or retaining your own style given that you are experimenting with new tools?

EX: For this piece, even though I was working with a different process and incorporating AI, I kept a thread of continuity by porting in the generative paper textures that people might be familiar with in my work. Beyond that, I think an artist’s style will tend to follow them regardless of what medium they are exploring. That might be evident in things like choice of color or sense of balance.

“Interwoven #21” by Emily Xie, 2023.
42

Shutong Liu

Shutong is the Digital Editor at SuperRare Labs.

Art

Tech

Curators' Choice

Curated Conversations: socmplxd

Curated Conversations: socmplxd

Above: “Seafood Tower” by socmplxd, 2023. Available on SuperRare now.

Curated Conversations: socmplxd

10 months ago
Socmplxd is a multidisciplinary artist, exploring everyday life through digital realism. His work revolves around contemporary still life, drawing inspiration from traditional art, pop art, and internet culture. Socmplxd’s use of staging and lighting, developed from his background in the film industry as a set designer, is prominent in his latest series. The simplicity, precision, and crispness of his graphic shapes are a hallmark of his digital art style.

SuperRare Labs Digital Editor Shutong Liu, alongside collectors Broke0x and EternalPepe, ask socmplxd about his practice, inspirations, and his plans for the future.

1996” by socmplxd, 2022.

The Artist that is socmplxd

Broke0x: Do you have a traditional art background as an artist?

Socmplxd: I’m grateful to have received an art education, where I learned traditional mediums like drawing and painting. Although I still enjoy making physical works, I’ve become obsessed with creating digitally ever since I entered Web3.

Shutong: Have you always been working digitally?

Socmplxd: As a commercial illustrator, my main career has revolved around working digitally. I have often associated digital works with employment and using my skills to contribute to various projects. However, it has been a refreshing change to shift my mindset and utilize it to create artwork that truly represents me and is for my personal expression.

Shutong: When did you mint your first artwork as an NFT? What made you decide to mint your works as NFTs?

Socomplxd: I had my first 1/1 mint around May 2021. For nearly a year prior to that, I observed the space from the sidelines, immersing myself in learning about different projects, the underlying technology, and how Web3 operates in general. Initially, I wasn’t sure if my work would find its place in Web3. However, inspired by numerous artists already thriving in the space, I eventually mustered the courage to take the leap.

For me, constructing a composition is like solving a puzzle. The process of moving, arranging, and fitting all the shapes together until they form something visually interesting and cohesive.

— socmplxd

Coffee and Donut” by socmplxd, 2023.

Digging Deeper

Shutong: Are there artists that inspire your works? What aspect of their works do you take away?

Socmplxd: I’ve always found inspiration from a wide range of sources. But recently I have been looking at artists such as Giuseppe Castiglione, Morandi, Diebenkorn, Dutch Still Life painters, and anime. They all provide something distinct, whether it be aesthetic qualities or conceptual ideas. This mix of influences allows me to explore and incorporate diverse elements into my own artistic practice.

EternalPepe: You post rough images and sometimes “shape studies.” Can you explain your process and how you build up a composition?

Socmplxd: The style of my work focuses on simplifying objects to their core shapes while maintaining their essence. For me, constructing a composition is like solving a puzzle. The process of moving, arranging, and fitting all the shapes together until they form something visually interesting and cohesive.

EternalPepe: You seem to be a student of art history. Where does 2023 and NFT art stand in the broader context of art history? Are NFTs really a renaissance in digital art?

Socmplxd: I do see it as a renaissance of art in general, where access to digital content has become more widespread than ever before. Unlike traditional art, which often require specific prerequisites, Web3 and NFTs present a new landscape that offers more inclusive opportunities for creators. Given the prominent role that digital culture plays in our lives and society, it is hard to overlook the relevancy for this movement to expand into something significant and have a part in art history.

Slice of Cake” by socmplxd, 2022.
EternalPepe: NFTs and platforms like Manifold have allowed artists to create “gamified” drops or drops with “mechanisms” built in. You released “Eggditions” that allow a collector to receive a rare piece if they collect the whole set. What are your thoughts on tech’s influence on art or vice versa? Is the “crypto culture” making art “gimmicky” or is it bringing in new people that normally wouldn’t buy art?

Socmplxd: Drop mechanisms can be enjoyable to experiment with, but they aren’t essential for everyone. I’ve made two drops in the past, combining art editions with PFP minting mechanics and rarity, and each drop had surprises for collectors. As a traditional illustrator, this experience has been invaluable, learning about collaboration, community organization, and other tech-driven aspects. It’s something I wouldn’t have considered without the technology. Rather than viewing it as mere gimmicks, I see these endeavors as ongoing experiments, providing artists and collectors with entertaining ways to connect and collect for various reasons.

Shutong: Could you talk about your inspiration behind “Seafood Tower” for this Curated Release?

Socmplxd: For this particular art piece, I wanted to challenge myself by creating a vertical 16:9 format piece, something I have never done before. In researching different art forms, I found inspiration from Chinese scroll art, which emphasized the significance of the visual journey in both elongated vertical and horizontal formats. Drawing from this influence, my goal was to create a composition that would take viewers on a captivating visual journey of shapes and colors, unfolding from top to bottom. A feast for the eyes.

Continuing with my exploration of the food theme, I focused on my love for seafood. Images of elaborate seafood towers have always captivated me, but I have yet to experience them in person. It has become somewhat of a culinary grail for me.

“Gathering of Auspicious Signs” by Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), 1723.
“Seafood Tower” by socmplxd, 2023. Available on SuperRare now.

The Evolving socmplxd

Shutong: Based on your minted works, it seems like your style has evolved quite a bit the past year, from more complex compositions to spotlight focus on individuals or a combination of objects. What’s the thought process behind this change?

Socmplxd: There was a time my mind was filled with a constant buzz of information concerning art, Web3, and social media. To counteract this, I sought to create artworks that would evoke feelings of restfulness and slowness, providing an escape from the busyness of everyday life. I still love both simple and intricate compositions, and I plan to continue with both styles in my future works.

Shutong: What are you experimenting with now, and how do you see your style evolve moving forward?

Socomplxd: I have been thinking a lot about my image making process, finding a balance between abstraction and representation.

I’m also exploring the accuracy of digital tools versus the imperfections of the human hand. So there are little bits and pieces of those elements in my recent works. Lastly, I am currently learning about AI and its potential for assisting me in sketching, research, and gathering reference materials.

Main Course” by socmplxd, 2023.

42

Shutong Liu

Shutong is the Digital Editor at SuperRare Labs.

Art

Tech

Curators' Choice

Curated Conversations: POST WOOK

Curated Conversations: POST WOOK

“Red Desert” by POST WOOK, 2023. Bid now.

Curated Conversations: POST WOOK

12 months ago

Natasha Chomko (b. 1995), aka POST WOOK, is among the most recognized NFT collage artists of today. Born in 1995 and currently based in Los Angeles, she has been creating her distinctive and mesmerizing collages full-time for the past 3 years.

Combining elements from photographs of impressive landscapes,  space, and sometimes geometric compositions, the artist hopes to create narratives through subtle symbolism. Her work pays tribute to Surrealist obscurity whilst striking a melancholic tone, wrapped with a psychedelic flare. Upon seeing her work, one often questions what is real, imaginary, or a blend of both.

SuperRare Labs digital editor Shutong Liu asks Natasha about her creative process, symbolism in her work, and the future of POST WOOK.

Shutong Liu: Did you always create collages digitally? How did you make that transition?

POST WOOK: I started making analogue collages when I was about 12–I was initially inspired by my childhood friend’s older sister and, ironically enough, the Burn Book from the movie Mean Girls. I started by getting magazines at the grocery store and cutting up everything and anything I could use in them to make art. Eventually I got more involved in my life, then college, and never really considered myself an artist. I did creative things but didn’t consider myself creative enough to be an artist–I thought artists had to look a certain way and be able to draw. I was so wrong. I made the transition from analogue to digital in 2018, when I needed a creative outlet but didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have enough space, time, or money to take up the other artistic mediums I’ve done, like set design, costume design, ceramics, or printmaking, so I turned to digital work because it was free and fit right in my pocket at the time: on my phone. 

Self Explained” by POST WOOK, 2022

SL: You are a self-taught artist, and studied Political Science in college. Did your studies impact your art in any way?

PW: I learned how to write, speak, and research in school. Political Science is more about understanding the history of policies and the cyclical nature of humans than current events, so I learned a lot about the past and how to communicate old ideas into the future. I think my process is similar in that aspect but different everywhere else. I have absolutely no issues researching something til I pass out or writing long and emotional descriptions for my pieces though, I definitely think school helped with that. 

SL: Can you walk us through your creative process-from a blank canvas to the finished product? 

PW: I work in a few different segments to create a piece of art, and while assembly might feel like the only part that counts, it isn’t in my book. 

Before even getting to a blank canvas, I need photos to work with. I have a large library of assets at this point, but I either need to find new photos or take them myself for new material, edit and cut those out, and save them accordingly. Sometimes the process of finding new material leads me to inspiration, but if it doesn’t, I need to find concepts and dig internally for feelings to make work about. Ironically enough, sometimes the process of finding inspiration takes me away from my studio and into the real world.

I am a big believer in mindfulness and find a lot of my inspiration through the world around me. Being outside, in a museum, or even driving home without music playing can inspire me and give me an idea for a new piece. The smallest things can lead to inspiration in my eyes. I find that the best inspiration comes when I least expect it, so I have to keep myself primed and alert to those little moments in life to find it. Otherwise it would feel pointless. 

Once there’s an idea, I need to assemble the pieces that swim around in my head to make the art. Usually I start with one specific layer that inspired the piece and work from there. Sometimes that initial layer doesn’t even make it to the final and that’s okay. From there, I assemble the scene that I want to convey, make sure the composition is exactly what I want and then I color edit. 

I did JUST get an iPad though, so I’m excited to see where I can expand my process to include things made with a tablet. So far, I really love it and can’t wait to see where it takes me!

I am a big believer in mindfulness and find a lot of my inspiration through the world around me. Being outside, in a museum, or even driving home without music playing can inspire me and give me an idea for a new piece.

— POST WOOK

Dehydration” by POST WOOK, 2021

SL: Talk to us about subjects that frequently appear in your works: stars, moon, nature, wild landscapes, and geometric shapes. Is there symbolism behind them?

PW: There absolutely is symbolism in all of my work, whether I outwardly talk about it or not. Sometimes the piece comes together in a way I absolutely needed without even realizing it until after the fact. My subconscious desire to create is so strong it sometimes scares me. 

The sun represents the source–of all life and light–of everything. Without the sun nothing else would exist as we know it. 

The moon represents perspective–without the sun (the source) the moon would not be illuminated on earth. But we see the moon differently every day, month, and based on where we are, like our perspective on situations, people, and events. Our perspectives are ever changing and I think the moon is the best signal for this dynamic energy in my work. 

Mountains represent time–similar to the time needed to create and destroy mountains, everything we do requires time as well. The Rocky Mountain range was not created overnight, how can we expect our lives to go any differently? 

Above land images of oceans and water represent patience, stillness, or calm–I grew up on a lake and found a lot of solace there. I also crave large bodies of water in moments of calamity, and find that water appears in a lot of my work when I’m feeling unsettled about something. It’s like a message from my subconscious to calm down.

Underwater scenes represent our need to get out of our own way–I often like to think about how the ocean exists solely without us–fish swim, bacteria grows, sponges protect life, coral sustains it. The whole system works with or without me, and if I want to observe it in its rawest form I have to get out of the way. Life is like that, too. If I want to enjoy life, I can’t meddle with it. It just has to unfold naturally.

Diagonal Study” by POST WOOK, 2022

Outer space and specifically stars represent time, just like mountains do, but more like lost time. Every star we can see has already burned out, yet we still celebrate stars and their beauty. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating life as it was, thinking back on it fondly, and letting it go. Stars are often one of the last elements I add to my work for this reason. 

Deserts represent solitude and the need for independence. When I was 13, I found myself in the middle of a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon exhausted, bored, and longing to go home. But the only way I could go home was by getting out of the canyon, and no one was coming to save me. At that moment I knew I had to keep going. I’ve revisited that moment in my head many times over since then, and reflect it in my work often as a reminder that despite all odds–geologically speaking with deserts–you can survive and you must keep moving forward. 

There are specific places that I revisit frequently in my work as well, like Arizona, the Badlands, and the general American southwest–they draw me in. There’s something magical about Arizona and I hope my work reflects that. 

I like circles because of what they represent energetically. Typically a circle is seen as the symbol for feminine energy, the beginning and end of something that truly has no markers. I like to use circles in my work as a reminder that things can and will continue to happen and it’s not the “end” of anything. 

Lastly, I use color in my work to depict emotions. In my mind every color has a subsequent emotion behind it. The more vibrant and multicolored the piece, the more emotions were felt. 

Keep the Silence” by POST WOOK, 2021

At that moment I knew I had to keep going. I’ve revisited that moment in my head many times over since then, and reflect it in my work often as a reminder that despite all odds–geologically speaking with deserts–you can survive and you must keep moving forward. 

— POST WOOK

SL: What do you hope the viewers feel or think when they see your work, or are you happy to open it to interpretation?

PW: I hope people just feel or think when they see my work. In my eyes if art makes you feel something, it did its job. I don’t really mind if people interpret my work differently than how I see it, I want people to see my work in a way that works for them. This is so much bigger than me at this point and there’s so much that can be said about creating art in the first place, so I’m just happy if I can impact someone on any level today. 

SL: What is the future for POST WOOK?

PW: First and foremost, I want POST WOOK to be a household name. I want my work to continue resonating with people all over the world and feel connected to themselves, their pasts, and their emotions in a new way when they look at my work. People often tell me my work looks like their dreams, or a place they’ve been but can’t remember and I think that’s the highest compliment of all. I want to continue making art that inspires people to feel that way. 

I want to push my boundaries for what I think is acceptable for me to create and let my imagination run wild. I am very drawn to the color red right now, and will continue to explore red work until it no longer feels right to do so. I will also keep looking inward to find the darkest corners of myself and make art about them so I can release the old feelings and let light flood in. I want to get more vulnerable, raw, and honest with myself in order to create even better work.

I’m interested in getting back into the world of physical art and have ideas on how to do that, as well as expanding how and where I create my art digitally. It’s important for me as an artist to keep creating and finding new heights. 

Objectively speaking, I am very focused on creating my best work instead of the most work at this time. I am making work based on collections and not just stand alone pieces, and I am focusing more on introspection to make the best art I possibly can. 

If you want to hear about mechanics, you’ll have to follow along. 

Bali Blues” by POST WOOK, 2022

SL: Talk to us about the works you are dropping with SuperRare this time?

PW: I’m dropping two new pieces into my Red Season series. I love this series because it was inspired by curiosity, and the deeper I get into it the more significance is revealed to me. 

The first piece is called Red Desert, 2023 and depicts one of the fantastic red rocks in Sedona, AZ. I am so incredibly drawn to Sedona, and bringing it’s otherworldly influence into my Red Season series feels very fitting. This piece lends more to the aesthetics side of the purpose behind Red Season. 

The second piece is called La Luna, 2023 and is meant to represent my interpretation of how my partner sees me. La Luna is his nickname for me, so I wanted to make a piece that really reflects how I interpret his love. This piece lends itself to the emotional side of Red Season, but is one of the first pieces I’ve made about love in an endearing way. Call that healing!

“La Luna” by POST WOOK, 2023. Bid now.

42

Shutong Liu

Shutong is the Digital Editor at SuperRare Labs.

Art

Tech

Curators' Choice