KG: Hey Pete, So nice to have you on here - Tell us a little bit about yourself and what your universe looks like
Pete: When I was a kid we had an oil well behind our house that blanketed the ground around in an orange sludge that I found beautiful. Being in the woods near my house was everything; I collected bullet casings, fossils, bones, and all kinds of gross things that kids collect. I lived near a toxic dump that leached into the water table and triggered rare diseases in many living downstream, including my grandmother who died of ALS when I was 13.
I lived in a rural area in Ohio where boys were expertly abusive and got to experience a lot of that emotional depravity firsthand. This was my initiation into being a teenager, I became obsessed with bands, films, and other counterculture art that I saw as groundbreaking. I went to school for painting because during high school it became part of who I was. I consumed music and films at a rapid clip and painted thousands of shitty paintings.
Through piles of mistakes, I began to grow my creative process, I saw interesting mistakes as the backbone of my style. I have been making paintings, videos, large format digital images, and hybrids of them for 20 years. My art favors dynamics over beauty because the world does, the strife we have caused ecosystems through our need for more is a pile of mistakes, but sometimes mistakes are interesting. Artists are supposed to find patterns, to expose the underlying truths of our world and our art. Finding patterns in the mistakes is my process.
KG: When and how did you find out about NFTs and what was your honest first thought?
Pete: A friend of mine told me about it and I messed around with Opensea after a bit of trepidation about paying to be part of it. I initially thought it seemed like there weren’t many authentic artistic voices in it. I have been in NFTs for a year now and none of my overall opinions have changed, I am very tuned into the IRL contemporary art, music, and film scene, and I have found very little in NFTs that measure up to the artistic voices I know of IRL.
This is not a reflection on the technology but the juvenile mentality that permeates much of crypto, not everyone is like this obviously but it does seem like it still permeates the scene. I see some potential here and there for organic growth of the authentic voices in the scene and I find that side of what is going on truly exciting.
KG: Your latest piece on DoinGud’s Origins Exhibition “Opening” is captioned “Opening is a vignette from the short video Black Hole Son, a movie about hastily put together events that lead to surreal spectacles. Opening represents a genesis or an origin”. Talk a bit about your process and how this piece came to life
Pete: Opening came to me as I was falling asleep one night and I wrote it down, it was like a joke in my head. I was already starting to work on Black Hole Son at the time so it grew out of that mindset. When I am making a video I develop individual ideas for short animations that live in the same world and I find connections between them. The soundtracks are also extremely important in building the vibe of the world. The pieces come together with the sound and the full picture of what the video is coming into focus.
KG: Whilst the NFT space is considered a community with different people sharing ideas, collaborating, and supporting each other, in some ways it still mirrors the traditional art world where only a small portion of the creators and collectors are responsible for the majority of the sales.
In your opinion as a creator, how important is it to be part of a community and what are some of the things you think can be applied to create a more fair and equitable system for business?
Pete: Ahhh yes, this I believe gets at one of the central pressure points in the NFT space at the moment. For artists like myself who are interested in creating work that shows people new ways of seeing and fresh perspectives, I see the current setup as extremely inhibiting. The reality is that those who are interested in marketing and hype have a far better chance in the current scene, but I am personally optimistic.
I have a lot of ideas about ways of creating an equitable scene, there are so many areas ripe with possibility; one big one is the idea of shows curated by artists on platforms themselves and/or in the metaverse, Twitter Spaces, etc. Each week a new artist could be curating a show on a platform and in their metaverse gallery, this is like a middle ground between what happens in art galleries, and film/music festivals where smaller artists are playing alongside larger ones.
It would generate buzz and also allow more conversations between artists about show ideas in Spaces which could create a whole ecosystem of innovation. I loved that DoinGud had a show of work based around the central concept of origins for the beginning of the platform, this is exactly the kind of idea that needs to be a central focus of the scene around NFTs. I think of shows like the Whitney Biennial, SXSW, and Lollapalooza, all are pretty exclusive as to who was involved but they also generate a ton of buzz.
KG: Surrealism plays a big part in your work, this can be seen/felt in some of your pieces like Breather or Mary Mary Quite Contrary. Who/what are some of your influences as a creator?
Pete: I have a wide range of influences, a few artists that I am always looking at are Jim Henson, William Blake, Cecily Brown, Peter Doig, David Lynch, and Andrei Tarkovsky; some that I am always listening to are Aphex Twin, Scott Walker, and shoegazer music. However, I am more influenced by specific artworks; I obsess over songs that transport me in a way I have never been before, moments in films that collapse an idea in a way that yanks me out of my understanding of what is possible, and paintings that show me a process I have never seen before. Surrealism as a whole is not all that interesting to me BUT certain paintings and films that are considered surreal have made statements about reality and the medium they used that changed the way I thought about art.
An example of a film that blew my mind the first time I saw it is David Lynch’s Eraser head; I saw it when I was 19 at a theater, I still believe that it has the most original and profound soundtrack ever made, it makes you FEEL the scenes profoundly viscerally. I had a similar experience turned inside out when I saw the band Godspeed You Black Emperor a week after 9/11. Their music is like the ultimate film soundtrack, and their concept of a live show with 2 giant side-by-side 16mm projections behind them showing apocalyptic imagery was a pure expression of that idea.
These are authentic artistic expressions that wove an experience out of the deep connections of sound and visuals. I find these kinds of connections to be important in new time-based art since the software allows artists to fine-tune details on levels we have never had access to in the past.
KG: Who are some of your favorite creators right now in the space that you think should be getting more love – Please share them with us.
Pete: I have a few really good friends who are obsessed with what new directions NFTs are allowing them to consider. I am mostly into artists that are making work that has one foot in reality, as part of their work is physical. I can’t list all of them here but I will stick a few Twitter handles here for anyone interested in who’s ideas I am gelling with and/or whose work I am digging… @briancattelle, @NuwanShilpa, @BreatheNFTs, @agyaat_astitva, @swansanddragons, @andreszighelbo1, @bronwynlorelei, @maxwellinked… I can’t think of any more at the moment. I apologize to anyone who I didn’t mention but am currently exchanging ideas with.
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