DigitWork I: Sean Mick

You Only Live Forever
Edition 1 of 1
Sean Mick’s work represents subjects, situations, and emotions using a mix of hard edge painting, surrealism, abstract realism and geometric abstraction. Thematically he is drawn to the subconscious and how it is wholly accessible by involuntary actions of sleep, intuition, and latent recall. Sean looks to capture an observation through geometric constructs, interpretive motifs, and color harmonies. Each composition is drawn from the immaterial and intangible by way of what we can’t see, but feel, with the intent of being equatable as to who, or what, they are.
Sean’s work includes relationships that are composites of many biomorphic shapes that represent relationships between people, nature and our world. Often complicated and of fluctuating structure, the work deviates from a singular geometric pattern and into a more abstract form to represent the undulating fluidities of bonds we create with everything around us, conscious or not.

Sean, thank you for being here. In the past you have worked as a painter using a variety of painting media. In your Manifestation series you focused on the language of line, color and shape all within the confines of the the panel itself. With these organic panels you aim to evoke the omnipresence of our collective conditions, thoughts, and attitudes free of any barrier. You have referenced how other painters such as as Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly and Jeremy Moon worked to reform the compositional plane and created shaped canvases. You look to these techniques less about abstracting the physical medium but more as a consideration to bring about the sculptural in a two dimensional object.

Recently you moved into digital art and the marketspace of NFTs. Here you provide inputs into an AI interface that further informs a javascript animation you developed. The results are quite striking. In your early work you acknowledge what other artist have done in the past. I don’t know if it is intentional, but when i look at your works on SuperRare and elsewhere, I’m reminded of the works of Giuseppe Archimboldo, Munch’s ‘Howler’ in’The Sleeper’ as well as the Dutch Still Life painters in your Flowers. And of course there is a strong sense of surrealism. 

How does your earlier work, i.e., the non digital art differ from the work you now producing?

The difference is night and day. Digital art, the crypto art movement, and the medium itself has pushed what I’m doing beyond the jumping off point of adapting my geometric work into an NFT and pushed it into an approach about incorporating the missing element of time in my physical art practice. The thought process before I do a piece is always ‘how will it move’? Whereas paintings are still and timeless this element of motion is what began an organic shift in style of my work in the genre as I began working in it. At first it was animated build ups using familiar geometric forms from my past work. That led to a simplified use of biomorphic shapes to tell a story but incorporated scripting and looping to form an endless undulating motion within the scene which led to my current style of using an aggressive use of motion to break down imagery into a somewhat psychedelic depiction of collages and subjects. All of them are just beginning to coalesce together in a new body of work I’m doing now

Please tell me some things about your approach to making digital art as well as what motivates you and captures your attention or imagination. How do these interact and relate to each other?

I read a lot about consciousness and how quantum mechanics are being studied to explain our reality. I’m one of those types that wants to know what our experience is here and how science is challenging what we perceive and assume may be much more influenced and entangled in a universal sense. Mystic art always played into this underpinning of an all encompassing energy that permeates everything and that influenced my POV in physical art as well as digital. I came to think of emotions, intangible elements of our existence, as manifestations that had some sort of physicality within a different mind state. That distilled into what my NFT work approaches whereas recognizable elements within a composition are abstracted to hint that what we see is only one facet of what is happening when looked at it through a metaphysical or quantum lens.

Yes, one does get that sense when looking at your work. Sometimes when looking at facial features, one can wonder if it is an eye or a nose or something else, e.g., what is it that is appearing to be a pupil, what is behind or beyond it… Is there an element of AI influence there? Does your initial approach end up evolving or going a different direction that was influenced by the use of digital AI technology?

I have a process approach that’s fairly concrete but what I feed into it is not. The imagery I use a starting point is chewed up by an AI pass and then built out from there. When I feel something is happening I take it through my other processes and see where it lands. So much of digital art has this element of absolute control. Sliders, scripting, values, modifiers, formulas, key frames and any other values that can be used to control the output is fantastic but I look for happy accidents to nudge the work along.

When you are working with digital processes such as algorithms, filters, visual modulators and/or AI, is there a discovery process that is somewhat consistent for you in that process?

Absolutely. It’s all about using these controls to not only push my point of view in different directions but have these values reveal something unexpected.

I see, perhaps a synchronicity sort of thing from the information side of the technology.

No matter what the collaboration, all creative work seems to possess some sort of life of its own.

Interesting, Sean. What would you say has been the audience response Vs the critics response to your art?

Both have been positive and it’s sort of crazy. A lot of this response is completely due to the platform of being a native digital medium. The intersection of the DAPP galleries and social networks allow for so much more feedback than the traditional art world. It’s like you never want to go back to working in a vacuum, in a sense. I’m always overwhelmed that with all the imagery we take in a day, someone takes time to write about the work. I appreciate feedback, positive or otherwise.

What, for you validates your art? Is it the price somebody is willing to pay? Is it a positive critical response or is it something other? Please explain.

Validating is a mixture of collector response and the ability of those that connect with the work to directly start a conversation about your practice. The access of collector to artist communication, without any gatekeeper aspect, is one of the best components of cryptoart. I love hearing about how someone interprets a piece. It often teaches me something about it I didn’t see myself.

What is your response to an established art world that might appear biased towards art done by the artist hand?

Last I checked, I used my hands to make NFTs so if the assumption is “traditional artists are skilled craftsmen that look to master their medium” I don’t see that as any different using digital workflows. In terms of artist approach, I use the same mix of intent and chance as I do with a palette knife as I do with apps. Why anyone takes this attitude to claim some sort of legitimacy over other methods is just gatekeeping at its worst.

Good point, Sean. Thank you so much for your time!

You are most welcome.

You can enter Sean Mick’s exhibition below. Best viewed in full screen

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Digital artist pursuing the NFT markespace.

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