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Primal Cyphers symbolism, motif and mantras epitomizes the crypto culture. The themes prevalent in his work bring about debate around global inequalities, elitism and suppressive systems. Centralised power is under threat, as the human consciousness becomes aware of their history and what they have been led to believe. Crypto-art is a medium to express this awareness – and Primal Cyphers work captures the movement fantastically. An amazing, thoughtful artist who’s work will go down in history. Thank you Primal for your time and all the best with your upcoming releases.
Your art has a clear brand – the neon, futurism stands out and I believe your artwork is a must have in any collector’s portfolio. When and where did the neon motifs begin and why did you choose to run with them to represent you in your art today?
When I turned away from oil painting in early 2020 and entered the digital art field, the first few weeks were an experiment. I had to learn pretty much everything from scratch and was in a process of finding myself. I can’t say exactly when and why I encountered this style, but I was magically drawn to it. It made me feel like I was thrown back to my childhood; the early 80’s, this very own style of “Outrun” and “Vaporwave” and actually the beginnings of computers and consoles. I had the feeling: “This is it! I want to continue working with this!
Do you remember your first tokenized digital art piece and could you share it with us, and maybe talk us through your thoughts about digital/crypto art at the time, and where it has come over its short history?
I can’t remember the first work, but as I said, the firsts were really more of an experiment. Maybe it’s better to look at my first work, which I published on SuperRare: CHOOSE YOUR PILL!
“Choose your pill!” was supposed to be a poster. The animation is intentionally kept very minimalistic and contains some references that are very important to me in my work. As a big fan of the cyberpunk genre and especially of the Matrix trilogy, I wanted to include the important scene between Morpheus and Neo and the choice of the pill. Morpheus, the god of dreams, became Satoshi with a Guy Fawkes mask, who as an anonymous representative of the Cypherpunk movement tries to wake up the counterpart from the dream of the centralized financial system. His red pill: BITCOIN… and with it a certain independence.
The link to crypto-currencies is clear in your artwork – have you always been involved in the crypto space either passively as an investor or more involved with crypto projects?
This is really an interesting question! I bought my first coins in 2017 before the big run. It was immediately clear to me that Bitcoin has a promising future, and with its underlying ideology it represents an important development that can shake old corrupt systems. But I was also attracted to Ethereum as an extension with various possibilities.
As I continued my immersion down the “rabbit hole” of the blockchain world, there were not many projects that convinced me, but some of them definitely had my attention. I won’t name the names here, but YES I have been involved in projects… mainly in marketing and journalism. But all this happened under different pseudonyms and it was a while ago.
Where was the Pr1mal Cypher name from and what does it represent to you?
To be honest, there is no specific consideration behind the name PR1MAL CYPHER. The pseudonym just appeared when I decided to dive into the CryptoArt scene. I liked the sound immediately.
Regarding its meaning, there are two basic components which I discovered in the further course of my work. Since I actually come from the Visionary Art scene and spirituality, as well as the idea of the big whole – these are very important to me – PR1MAL CYPHER stands on the one hand for the “primal” word or “primordial light”; the cipher of the divine and the creation of life per se.
On the other hand, I have always had a great affinity for cultural-critical writings as well as reflections on man and the systems of oppression he has created. Topics such as power, manipulation, autonomy and human dignity, freedom or the struggle for a freer and better society are considered essential to me. In this context, PR1MAL CYPHER refers to rebel movements and associations that fight in their ideology for the good of the people. I have a great respect for the Cypherpunks or Anonymous, which can be seen clearly in some of my works. It will also be relevant in the future to be actionist in this. PR1MAL CYPHER is nothing static, but rather a process… a journey of an artist who develops, explores and wants to make a small contribution to this necessary actionism with his works.
What do you do other than NFTs, digital art? Is your life mostly involved around art circles?
Art definitely takes a big place in my life. Due to a firm commitment to some projects, my current focus is mainly on digital art and writing texts, but I have been drawn back to oil painting for a few weeks now. I have not yet taken this path, as I have to prepare some things for the projects for 2021, but it should only be a few more weeks until I am sitting in front of the easel again and increasingly associate analog art with digital art.
Apart from that I’m taking time for myself, sports, yoga, reading, nature and friends and family.
Your art work has elements of revolution or against the current system – the riot days artwork, Bitcoin, the Molotov cocktails and the justice for Floyd – could you speak to these themes and what they mean to you?
Basically, this theme is by far the most important one for me, even if it is not expressed in all works. For me, art means the opening of spaces for reflection on certain issues as well as the current zeitgeist with all its phenomena – the behavior of people and especially the grievances of our global society. Already during my studies I have intensively dealt with these topics. I am thinking of Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward L. Bernays, who systematized the manipulation of the masses by means of third independent parties and the so-called expertise and drove it to perfection. But also writings by Erich Fromm such as “To Have or to Be?”, Huxley “Brave New World” and Orwell’s “1984” have influenced me a lot. There are some other authors to mention…
In essence, I find it exciting how the masses and the individual are subtly indoctrinated through media and propaganda to exercise a certain form of power and control that determines consumer behavior, drives the economy and actually influences all our thinking, acting, feeling and will, in favor of a ruling elite that decisively controls the financial world.
Let me be understood correctly; I have nothing against hierarchical systems, because in my humble opinion the whole universe is built up in a certain hierarchy, but it makes me sad to see to what extent in our systems human dignity is undermined, freedom is restricted, our environment is treated carelessly and the gap between rich and poor is getting wider and wider. My scale of values is simply different from that which is imminent in many systems.
I am definitely critical of our lifestyle, as well as our technical achievements, even though they have brought and will bring many positive things with them. Take social media as an example. It is incredibly enriching to be able to meet and exchange ideas in groups in a global way. To be able to network and meet like-minded people at any time is really valuable. At the same time, there are quite a few people who long for confirmation; for the next flash of a “Like”… the associated release of dopamine and the conditioning of the reward center in the long run has produced a whole generation of social media junkies. However, since short-lived happiness will never bring about real inner fulfillment.
Much could be said here about technology, and in general about the psychological mechanisms in relation to advertising, politics and the media. However, it would go beyond the scope of this article to go into all this in detail.
A revolution? Yes, a revolution would really be a necessity to bring people more into a consciousness where they are looking for long-term happiness; for inner fulfillment and the essential things… but this revolution will never be an “outer” revolution, but must take place within. It would have to start especially with a critical examination of our own consumer behavior and of course with a questioning of our values in general.
But the human being does not tick like that in the masses and prefers to go the way of an external revolution in scenarios of obvious injustice or in his need, which we had to experience again in the uprisings in 2020. I do not want to condemn this at all. On the contrary, I have the fullest understanding for it, because the experienced powerlessness and the perception of an asymmetrical balance of power wanted to make people act. With my works I wanted to capture this and share it visually.
What is your favorite artwork – a 1/1 or Edition series, and why?
It’s really difficult to decide on a single image… it’s actually impossible, but one of my favorites is for sure: “Architecture of Oppression I.” – The title is based on a mention of Edward Snowden and visualizes the above mentioned theme of indoctrination and manipulation in a way that I still particularly like.
Are you looking at collabs with any other artists? Who stands out as an artist who could complement your style?
At the moment this is a bit difficult because I am preparing two bigger projects, but there are already some artists I would like to work with. Comics have always been something that attracted me, so I want to continue working with Jose Delbo. It’s uncomplicated, his reliability makes it easy to work with him and on the whole it’s a pleasure!
When it comes to oil painting, I would really like to be able to do something with Trevor Jones and also VESA, because they make a very important contribution to the scene and through their work they bring out the relevance of physical works. Personally, I still find the physical component particularly important, despite all the innovations in the digital field and the possibilities of the blockchain.
In terms of the cyberpunk genre and also in terms of puzzles, I would really like to do something with Marguerite de Courcelle (aka coin_artist). Hopefully the time will come soon.
In general, it would be important to me to create works in the sense of the above mentioned themes and to produce more works that have to do with the ideology of Bitcoin, Crypto-Anarchy and the Cypherpunks in general, but also with the themes of revolution, manipulation, indoctrination and social criticism. Of course I immediately think of Josephine Bellini, with whom I share some thoughts on real “CryptoArt” and in whom I also see a fighter for a more just society. I have great respect for her and would be happy if this would happen in the future. The same goes for Lucho Poletti when it comes to Bitcoin and the financial systems.
What’s your thoughts on programmable, layered art and are you considering any large pieces that are structured this way?
Besides two collaborations I published my solo work “The Great Desire” on ASYNC in August. The remaining animated versions will be released very soon on SuperRare. Async Art and in general the possibility of programmable art with exchangeable layers immediately excited me. I see it as a small art revolution that has arisen from the possibilities of blockchain. However, nothing concrete is planned for the near future.
Could you share a bit about yourself, your upbringing, where you grew up and where you have now found yourself?
I don’t want to say much about it, because most of it is not relevant for others. I grew up in Austria and studied philosophy, linguistics, psychoanalysis and art in Innsbruck and Vienna. I am a child of the 80’s, who witnessed the rise of the mechanized society through computers and the internet. I am me and I try to live in the moment. Fame, power and all the hedonistic pleasures are not important to me… I want to grow inwardly and leave this journey in this 3D world with a fulfilled consciousness.
Which sports interest you and which countries would you like to visit and why?
Sport in the sense of competition or measuring strength does not interest me. I do strength training for myself and yoga. As for traveling, I would like to visit the USA with all its national parks. Since I will exhibit at the Bitcoin CON 2021 next year, I would also like to go to LA. Apart from that, there are an incredible number of places on this planet that are worth visiting… Italy, Greece, the North of India.