By Vinciane Jones, Verisart
Universal Everything are an international digital art and design collective established in 2004 by Matt Pyke. They use emerging display technologies as their canvas, exploring human behaviors as well as the diversity of nature, emotion and a future-positive outlook with a vibrant, figurative aesthetic. Much of their work is immersive and interactive and they have experimented with augmented and virtual reality. Universal Everything have collaborated with Nike, Google, Zaha Hadid architects, Samsung, Chanel and Sydney Opera House among many other well-known brands and institutions. Their works have been exhibited at La Gaîté Lyrique, Victoria & Albert Museum and Barbican, among others.
Universal Everything recently created their first-ever NFT work, minted on March 15 in exclusive partnership with Verisart and SuperRare as part of 10×10: 10 inaugural NFTs by 10 major contemporary artists over 10 weeks.
The inaugural NFT entitled Nature Always Wins – Airport is part of a wider series “Nature Always Wins” which explores rewilding.
“The idea came about a year ago at the beginning of lockdown when everything stopped and you started seeing nature rewilding places,” explains founder Matt Pyke. “In the city, you would see sports fields and pavements with nature creeping through and more birds singing than usual. It’s almost like as soon as humankind locks down then nature takes over again. There was something really positive about that despite what was going on.”
The work was created in procedural visual effects software. “The computer code is growing nature onto the surface. It’s working in the same way that nature works in real life, where it’s taking simple algorithms and growing plant forms out of seeds but we’re doing it in a digital way.”
Art that gives back
With their inaugural NFT sale, Universal Everything wanted to give back. They will donate 50% of the proceeds to Givewell’s Maximum Impact Fund. The Fund distributes donations to the charities that are the most effective at improving and saving lives for each dollar spent.
Universal Everything’s inaugural NFT is certified with a Fair Trade Art Certificate from Verisart, an award-winning blockchain certification platform. Fair Trade Art is an initiative by Verisart designed to bring together artists and social impact organizations to do good. The certificate signals that funds from the sale of the artwork are benefiting a charitable cause.
Designed to empower artists to tell the story of their work, the Verisart digital certificates include additional images, videos and many other types of files. For collectors, Verisart’s patent-pending Certificates of Authenticity (COA) form an integral part of collecting NFTs. They provide confidence in the identity of the artist and the verified history of the artwork.
A collaborative process
Universal Everything have a small number of full-time staff and collaborate with creators, artists and designers from all over the world. Pyke explains, “Our studio has always been remote working, ever since I started it in 2004 and that was partially because geographically I wasn’t living near the people I wanted to collaborate with.”
Working collaboratively and remotely has its advantages and enables Pyke to select skilled creators from around the world. “With every new artwork we make, I tend to curate a different selection of collaborators according to the skills needed. So it might be an architect, a musician and a programmer or it might be an animator and a photographer.”
“For this project, we worked with one animator in London and a sound designer in Brighton. The next project we’re doing has a completely different team.”
Pursuing emerging technologies
Universal Everything are always looking to experiment and expand their horizons with new means of displaying and producing works.
“As a studio, we’ve always pursued emerging technology as the medium we work in, either in terms of canvases with new forms of screens like large architectural screens or flexible screens. But also in terms of the means of production, we always use technologies like generative design, new forms of visual effects software and artificial intelligence.”
“NFTs felt like the perfect emerging medium to work with” because they provide a way of creating unique digital works.
Universal Everything are developing several exciting projects, including working on several immersive, fully-sensory installations for museums and galleries and developing generative videos which never repeat themselves.
Bidding for Universal Everything’s inaugural NFT, Nature Always Wins – Airport, closes around 1pm EST on March 18.
About the artist
Universal Everything are an international digital art and design collective established in 2004. Using emerging display technologies as their canvas, UE produce screen-based artworks that subvert cinematic CGI, physics simulations and real-time gaming graphics, to create new forms of the moving image. Their work is at times immersive and interactive, often journeying into augmented or virtual reality. It exists at the balance between abstract and figurative – the point at which a hint of life emerges, and technology becomes soulful. With a background in graphic design and music video direction, UE repurposes the seductive language of modernist design and high-gloss consumerist style into a vibrant, figurative aesthetic. Universal Everything have collaborated with Nike, Google, Zaha Hadid architects, Samsung, Intel, Chanel and Sydney Opera House among many other well-known brands and institutions.