Please introduce yourself.
I’m Yazid, and I create art with code. I studied IT in university in the mid 2000s, a choice at the time influenced by pragmatic reasons. Growing up as the internet was taking off, I loved computers and computer graphics and wanted to do something in visual arts/graphic design/branding (I played with a lot of graphics tools like Macromedia Flash and Dreamweaver in my early teens) but the creative industry where I’m from (Brunei) was fairly small and immature then, so I went into computing and chose a major of interactive media. Shortly after I received my degree, I got a job as an enterprise software developer, and remained in that world for a good decade or so, occasionally moonlighting as an indie graphic designer & web/apps developer to help satiate my creative needs. As I progressed further into my career with project management, technology R&D, consulting, my time with creative endeavors became less and less. I came to know about crypto and NFTs through my work in innovation, and at the end of 2020 I decided I should get my hands dirty to better understand the space and get back into doing more creative things. I’ve since fallen into the rabbit hole and am happy to report that I have zero plans to crawl out of it anytime soon 😆
Can you describe your art?
I create art with code and algorithms, often abstract/conceptual and with a minimal aesthetic. I enjoy exploring the boundaries of the tech and finding ways to do things that are delightful, surprising, unique/novel, especially when compared to what is possible with physical/traditional art. But really I’m just trying to create cool shit that grabs people and looks good. 😆
What is in your toolbox?
Can you walk us through your process for creating one of the pieces in your Generative Abstract series?
I have a few different ways of getting into a piece. One of them is for me to just start by opening up an existing sketch (what p5js projects are called) and randomly tweak code here and there. Could be shapes, angles, colors, rules. Often that leads to nothing, but every once in a while a glimmer of something interesting will appear and I’ll just run with it until I get somewhere I like. Because it’s so experimental and exploratory you usually won’t even be able to tell that one thing came from the other, like these:
… which eventually lead to this piece (‘Take a Random() Walk with Me‘):
(Though technically this piece isn’t part of the Generative Abstract Series)
One other way is that I may have randomly come across something beautiful visually somewhere, and I’d be inspired to just try to recreate it in some form. Here’s an example. I saw this beautiful photo displayed as a screensaver on my TV just as I was walking past it.
I’d take note of it and let it sit in my mind, thinking of how it might be done logically, until I get the chance to try executing it in code.
They don’t always make it into published pieces though, like the one above. Sometimes it’s satisfying enough just to have gone through the process. But a lot of the times this is how my pieces get created. Inspiration, recreation/reinterpretation. And it could be from anywhere really. Social media, nature, a random screensaver on my TV, traditional artworks.
Sometimes, I may already have some conceptual idea in mind and I’ll try to build it out visually. Below was an interactive piece I created for the #100HEN event, which was a celebration of 100 days of HEN. It’s based on a 10×10 grid structure, and within each of those is a square made up of 100 even smaller squares which are either filled or unfilled (black vs white, on vs off, 1 vs 0). The concept is super simple: as you grow in numbers, you have more probability of turning a square “on”.
With this particular piece, I did go one extra and secretly built in integration with a then new and unannounced “self-aware”/inter-NFT system of mine I had just created (sadly I don’t have a succinct way of describing what this is 😆). My interactive OBJKTs which incorporate this system scans for whether the viewer owns any of these Swatch OBJKTs of mine in their wallet. If they do, the piece is able to make use of those swatches they own to add color (or whatever additional functionality I decide) into the piece. I released these swatches and announced the system about a week or so after I embedded it into several pieces. So a viewer owning the following 3 swatches…
… would then have the potential to turn the #HEN100 piece into this:
I absolutely loved people’s reactions when they learnt that something they had seen before now had a completely different dimension to it. A lot of my subsequent work tried exploring more of these types of mechanics. Be sure to have a look at the piece I collaborated with Eltono on. 😉
What are your artistic influences?
I can probably thank Banksy for giving me the inspiration for adding these kinds of surprises into my interactive pieces. Like how he built a shredder into the frame of his “Girl with Balloon” piece and triggered it to go off just as it was getting auctioned. I joked once that it was like a smart contract IRL. Super hilarious that the shredder got stuck mid-way. Kind of comforting that physical art pieces can have bugs too (I’ve surely had plenty).
Aesthetically, I get a lot of inspiration from a few different buckets of styles: Bauhaus / De Stijl / op art, early graphic design / “swiss style”, early computer/plotter art, and glitch/pixel art. You may find that a mish mash of these aesthetics often come out in my own work.
Image: Girl with Balloon by Banksy
Which other artists/projects are you excited about right now?
Projects like Art Blocks, Autoglyphs, Framergence, SolSeedlings, ArtCardz are interesting to me. As I came to NFTs from the tech side as a technologist, I’m fascinated by projects which are on-chain or make use of interesting token interaction mechanics. I try to explore some form of this in my work on HEN but without getting into smart contracts there are limitations of what can currently be done. Another recent project that looks to be exciting is Botto. I remember reading an article by Gene Kogan on Medium a while back about an autonomous artificial artist or “an artist in the cloud” and Botto looks to be something that’s heading in that direction.
Can you share one of your works-in-progress?
Here’s an output from something I recently put together. It’s an algorithm that tries to emulate the look of weaving patterns from traditional handicraft textiles of Brunei.
Where do you think your art is going next?
Maybe into its own collections? Maybe revolving some interesting on-chain or token mechanics? Or most likely just wherever else my curiosity takes it.
Where can people find you online? Which communities do you hang out in?
Best place would be to catch me on Twitter (@Yazid). Discord second. I started a server primarily dedicated to supporting and onboarding local cryptoartists into NFTs, but other than that I’m only active on a handful of servers. I also have an IG (@cryptoyazid) that’s severely outdated.