Exploring NFT Art On Tezos (Part 8) – Vessels
Barry O’Hearn carries on his series exploring NFT art on Tezos. In this series, he will be speaking to the artists behind the NFTs.
Part 8 of the ‘NFT Art On Tezos’ series covers Vessels: The Vessels series which was released entirely as NFTs through Hicetnunc reveals a story about the remnants of a future humankind forced to migrate to a distant alien planet to escape an Earth that could no longer sustain life.
An Introduction To The Vessels Interview
As you peruse through the amazing artwork that is coming out of the Tezos community, you will likely encounter the Vessels series, created by Jake Gumbleton. Being a big sci-fi fan, I was instantly drawn to the stunning and captivating images that tell a desperate story of human survival on an alien planet.
The Vessels series which was released entirely as NFTs through Hicetnunc reveals a story about the remnants of a future humankind forced to migrate to a distant alien planet to escape an Earth that could no longer sustain life.
Vessel’s intricate, meticulously detailed futuristic portrayals capture a dark, brooding and fascinating alien environment. The compositions are skillfully crafted in ways that sharply contrast an eclectic mix of characters with their aging high-tech futuristic machinery upon which they cling to for survival.
Pirates, mech pilots, “gang girls”, aristocrats, mutants, witches and even The Queen herself demonstrate an intense determination that is often seen in those that have lived through hard times. Facial scars, jewelry, attire, uniforms, high-tech gear and other vivid details disclose the tale of the conflicted remains of humanity struggling to prevail in their dire circumstances.
Though some of the background can be gleaned from the brilliant, sharp-witted details that accompany the creations, the story is mostly revealed through the images themselves. From the giant “Hulk” of the spaceship that brought the settlers to their alien home, to the absolutely breathtaking “Puffin” that features an aging fishing mech, Vessels serves up the ultimate feast for the imagination.
The Vessels Interview
First of all, thank you very much for agreeing to discuss your work with us in this virtual setting.
I’m a bit of a sci-fi person so I’m really fascinated with your storyline. Like I mentioned in the Twitter post where I first interacted with you, I’ve been a bit preoccupied with post-apocalyptic fiction for most of my life and your storyline about a future humanity struggling to survive on an alien planet with aging tech really resonates! Tell me about your background and artwork. What inspired the incredible Vessel storyline?
The name itself Vessels seems to be symbolic for the human characters that you created, the human condition itself and the technology that is responsible for both the destruction of our home planet earth and the potential for a voyage to find a new home on another planet. A multifaceted metaphor perhaps? Is this an accurate interpretation? If so, is this a reflection of your sentiment of humankind and our current situation?
Yes absolutely. The name captures so many facets of the narrative and universe. The central one is that some of the characters are vessels of a great power- no one knows the source of the strange powers that manifest in some individuals… I loved the idea of playing between the ship that brought them here as well as the people themselves being Vessels.
The project is directly linked to my sentiments regarding humanity and our situation/ future. I try hard to have hope for us as a species but as the years roll by and the climate emergency remains largely ignored this is harder and harder to do. In particular, the ‘Escape to Mars/ the stars’ thinking really irks me. Humanity has evolved to live here on Earth, and we will never have a better home than the one we have evolved in tandem with.
The settlers in Vessels still depend on massive spacecraft that brought the human remnants to their new home and the remaining mechs for their survival. It is such an interesting situation and predicament. The difficulty to maintain advanced technology and heavy equipment on an alien planet is daunting to say the least.
Why do you think this scenario is so fascinating?
I have always been hooked by the motif of discovering ancient technologies in video games like The Shining Force and films like Castle In The Sky. These scenarios are fascinating, and I love the idea of showing the actual downfall of a civilization / technological capability. That backsliding from technology would happen so fast even here on Earth and the remaining pieces of tech could feel like magic within just a few generations.
What was your inspiration?
Other than a partially misspent youth playing a lot of Japanese RPG’s I think I have two main inspirations, both novels.
The first, and quite conscious one, is The Once And Future King by T.H. White. I have read this series many times over and for me it is a wonderful combination of insight into humanity alongside really powerful characterization. It has so much heart. The other is Steven King’s The Stand. I read this when I was quite young, maybe 10 or 11, I think, and it really struck a chord with me – I guess it was my first experience of the post apocalypse genre.
You are also well known for your fine artwork (@jakegumbleton). Your recent Eco Series depicts natural landscapes and wildlife some of which relate specifically to the global climate crisis. Being such a talented artist allows you to explore and express creativity in very diverse and profound ways. It seems as though NFTs have opened up a lot of opportunities for artists like you to explore creative projects. How has the rise of NFTs impacted your work?
I could not have anticipated the impact NFT’s would have on me, it really has changed the landscape forever. I had been making daily watercolors for about a year and had enjoyed it a great deal. Initially I just wanted to develop facility with the medium and spend time away from my desk. For years I had wanted to address climate change through my artwork, but I could never find a way that did not feel too earnest and awkward.
When NFT’s arrived, I was so excited by the potential but then immediately backfooted by the ecological issues baked into them. This contradiction made me stop in my tracks and think about what and why I wanted to make art. I found HEN just at the right moment and I have never looked back. It just felt like home.
Why did you choose to launch Vessels on Tezos and Hicetnunc? What types of factors influenced your decision? What do you like most about Tezos and specifically Hicetnunc?
I did consider multiple platforms for Vessels. It had to be an ecologically sound platform. Initially I did not see how I could make it work on HEN as the site was so paired down and had no gallery features at that stage. Luckily it occurred to me (and many others!) that I could use an account as a gallery. I love HEN. It has such a diverse, talented and passionate community and every person I have met through it so far has been helpful.
I discovered entire genres or artwork that I did not know existed and it has been an education- glitch, generative and GAN art are all now firmly on my radar:) I have never been involved in something where everyone is so set on lifting each other up. The support I have experienced through other artists, passionate collectors, community minded folk and other teams running collectibles has been wonderful. Massive shout outs to @Ruben_Fro, @Goldy_TGG, @revendar & @BunnyKnights in particular.
How do you envision NFT art ten years from now and where/how do you see imagine your role in the development/expansion/adoption of blockchain technology as it relates to art?
I find it hard to visualize but I think once it is more accessible – say the ease of use of a PayPal account there will be no stopping it. It taps into deep mechanisms in our little monkey brains. My main hopes for the technology are that it amplifies what is already doing- we now have a truly global playing field where no matter where you are in the world you can get paid for the things that you passionately want to make.
You can find the people that your creations connect with, and they can engage enjoy and support you. On a wider note, I think putting money into the hands of those who do not normally get so much of it is a real game changer. I cannot wait to see the potential change that this platform can bring about for our species and our ecosystem. Initiatives like @Artists4Plants are already paving the way forward.
Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss Vessels with me! More importantly, thank you for creating Vessels! It is a highly enjoyable NFT series which I highly recommend it.
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