A conversation about NFTs: Vice Tomasović

One cannot easily describe the guest of the Endemic #2 AMA. Vice Tomasović is the Croatian visual artist, president of the Croatian visual artist association (HULU), founder and director of the Almissa Open Art Festival of Contemporary Art in Omiš, legal representative of the Croatian Association of Fine Artists in Split, head of exhibition activities in the Salon Galić gallery and Diocletian’s cellars, graduate of fine arts at the Art Academy of the University of Split, awards winner and more. He is socially engaged and fights for better rights of artists, he raises important social issues, does humanitarian work, and struggles for decentralization of art. And this is the most concise way we could say it all, we promise.

Ask me Anything with Vice was hosted on Dec 23 and we heard a lot of interesting things about his two collections that will be available on the launch of the Endemic marketplace. Dig in and learn more.

What is the “Ex nihilo” collection?

Vice: Ex nihilo is a painterly cycle I’ve been working on for several years and it’s been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout Croatia. The name translates to ‘out of nothing’ but this collection was not created per se out of nothing. It is the result of a long-lasting and thorough intellectual, spiritual and artistic process. My main thought is this: “Fifteen billion years ago there was nothing. How is it possible that the entire universe was created out of nothing and that it exists in this state.” The collection is problematizing the concept of fullness — everything that’s existing now started from nothing. There was a time before time with nothing and now we have everything that we’re experiencing as human beings. This whole universe is full of material and life but also the empty space that is reminiscent of those times.

In his work, Vice truly refers to medieval, more precisely, Romanesque art, but he connects it with contemporary science, which teaches that emptiness does not exist, that in empty space there are particles that constantly appear and disappear. And that’s why you have fantastic themes, composition and colour. That is, if there is colour, it is intense, but this cycle sometimes paints in a black and white version. The pictures need to be carefully observed because there are over a thousand characters on each. Sometimes VIce worked on one painting for two months or more.

Ex Nihilo 04 & 07

Ex Nihilo are physical paintings and NFT tokens that don’t coexist together, can you explain that?

Vice: So, Ex Nihilo are physical paintings where token owners have the option to request Endemic for physical artwork, but in that case, NFT is burned. Likewise, physical pieces can be sent to Endemic at any time to be converted back to NFT. The provenance of all owners is then coded into the blockchain. I wanted that because it’s an interesting, edgy approach for me. You can have either but not both. Having the NFT and physical work as two original things is a bit strange to me. Those are big paintings, meter x meter and half large and you have to see them in person because that’s the only way to experience them. I would suggest keeping it as a physical object. There’s also an idea to make a VR animation based on those paintings (you in the middle of all creatures) so you have the physical work and NFT as an animation, thinking about the differences, pros and cons of each media.

As a head HULU, how do you see art in Croatia and possibilities for artists to join the NFT world?

Vice: The HULU association is 75 years old, gathering around 450 members at the moment. The art scene in Split is excellent, much better than other cities in Croatia. But what I see is that Split has its roots in conceptual art, possibly because of the Art academy, without an artist truly exploring what art really is. The Zagreb scene is more oriented to illustration and I feel they are more open to NFTs.

Regarding the plans, I will definitely make a HULU profile on Endemic and try to find a way to get our artists to the global scene. The biggest problem in Croatia is that we don’t have an art market, it’s almost all in the grey area and the administrative problems we have doesn’t help us much. For the last 20 years, we have been trying to evolve as a market. I don’t know how my colleagues who don’t work at the academy or some school survive at all. And they are great artists. I hope we could make something of this situation because people ARE hungry for new options and possibilities. The plan is to intertwine Endemic and HULU Split and I hope in the future everyone will have their wallet.

What Croatian artists get from Endemic is marketing push, the team behind that supports you, curators, the office you can use if you need it — everything. Your only job is to make great art you have been making for years but you’ve just been put aside from society without real opportunities. With Endemic you have the amazing outlet to sell art, earn revenue, be part of different projects and build a local community which will lead to more commission work.

There is one more collection that will be available on our launch and that you made especially for the Endemic community. Please share all about it

Vice: Singularity was the moment when the first quantum computer became aware of its own existence. Artificial intelligence, much more powerful than human intelligence, has been around for more than twenty years, but it has not been revealed to our species. However, as many artificial bits of intelligence separated from the Singularity Collective, several opposing supercomputer groups were formed, each with its own agenda. Each crypto asset is essentially an autonomous entity that uses robotics and genetic engineering to create real-world avatars. This new living kind is among us, and these NFTs show their current physical appearance.

They are called the Crypto Embodiments and I’ve been involved in the NFT community for a year now and I have seen a lot of collectable art but haven’t seen somebody that is illustrating the crypto assets. So, that’s basically the whole narrative and when I’m thinking about it, I don’t know if artificial intelligence and sentient computers really exist, watching us, learning about us more.

The techniques I used to show it are mostly digital collages and illustrations from all around the Internet. I’m cutting out little pieces of others’ work and that is a legitimate process to me because of the whole idea of the readymade object that is an authentic piece of art when you take some physical artefact made by another human being and put it in another context, making it your own appropriation. But I’m not using it in that basic sense. What I do is just collage the elements of this character and after that, I’m trying to blend it to make it one solid body and then animate it trying to keep it simple — Monty Python kind of animation.

What can we find in the Crypto Embodiments?

Vice: Some of the characters are mutants (using computer engineering to make avatars) and some of them are androids, robots. The Bitcoin is the first one I’ve made — it has the elements of the bear and bull and red laser eyes as a bitcoin symbol. Binance is a bit punky, Ethereum has crystals, Solana is interesting and sexy and you’ll probably like Near the most. There are eight of them and I don’t know how many will be at the end.

BNB

They have some kind of personality — but that is still in the process and might be a good plan for the future. I would really love to make a project for that, maybe in collaboration with somebody or maybe the community can help me.

And the author of this collection is not Vice?

Right. The author is me but under the name Insipiens. It’s reminiscent of my lifestyle in the hip hop community — I have aliases when making projects that are a bit different from the usual things I’m known for. And crypto embodiments are not the Vice Tomasović kind of art.

Humanitarian work and giving back to the community all around the world is one of the Endemic driving motives and that’s why we would like to ask you about one humanitarian NFT project you already did.

Yes, Christmas is that time of the year when the fortunate ones have to think more about people and kids that don’t have the same opportunities in life and help. Last year we did an NFT 021 exhibition in the Gallery of fine arts in Split and it was a project I started with Ivan Perić, my friend and a great artist. He’s the guy who introduced me to cryptocurrency because I wanted to be part of this NFT movement so he explained everything to me. We saw there are not many exhibitions in the physical space with NFTs so we made an elegant and minimalistic one and asked some Croatian artists to be part of it. By the end, we raised around 3000 dollars (in a short time) and all were donated to Down 21 — the Down syndrome association in Split. I cannot describe how happy they were.

We could go on with Vice for hours but let you explore a bit about him and his work. Be sure to follow his Twitter account and be first to possess his artwork when Endemic launches 🚀

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