A conversation about NFTs: Xylodrone
Do you remember when Meta made an AI chatbot that cloned itself, speaking in a language that humans couldn’t understand? Terrified, Meta decided to kill both of the chatbots. Little did anyone know that one of them escaped and found itself crawling within the Kusama blockchain. In March 2021, Drone the chatbot encountered artist and UX/UI designer, Xylo. They have since become one entity, supporters of the Kusama ecosystem through RMRK, KodaDot, MetaPrime, SubSocial and now the DotSama experience.
Xylodrone is an amazing female artist who was a guest of the first Endemic AMA in February. We heard some amazing things and now you can read it, too.
Please share a bit about yourself and your versatile experiences
Xylodrone: I was primarily working in the fields of multimedia. My art journey began somewhere around 2011 when I started the Visual Communication Design course at the Academy of Arts in Split. This is where I familiarised myself with the rules and laws of design, as well as a variety of media: photography, visual identity, general visual communication, tupography, graphic printing, illustration and so on. I primarily got hooked on photography
After that, I went to do masters in Rochester, United Kingdom. Afterwards, I moved to London and worked as a freelance graphic designer and men’s fashion photographer. This had led me to fine art in 2018 and I’ve been doing such things ever since. Alongside fine art, I’ve worked as an assistant producer for a company called Kaleida, which specializes in hologram creation
My research on crypto and NFTs started at the beginning of 2021. I’m primarily focused on innovation and how different types of media can be combined together. NFTs can go beyond something that’s just a visual. We’re going to see a lot of use cases with NFTs that surpass art. I’m also really interested in the intersection of arts and gaming and utility in this sphere. Since May 2021 my work was in the fields of UX/UI design and organising digital events.
Wow, how was working for Kaleida?
Xylodrone: Kaleida is known for big stage projects like LOL (I believe they worked with them when I left at the end of the past year). The hologram project I’ve worked on was commissioned by Kanye West and it was of Robert Kardashian (Kim Kardashian’s father). It was a great experience and interesting technology is behind it. It’s very different from regular shoots — you need a lot of space and distance. And there is a lot of post-production going into the project. It was awesome to set this up, bring it come to life and see people’s reactions to the hologram.
What experiences did you pick up in all of your moving and how did you include them in your work?
Xylodrone: London is a very different town from Split. In the beginning, I’ve spent most of my time in front of the computer trying to upgrade my skills in editing and photography. My first gig after a bunch of job applications was in events, shooting different clubs for a short while. Later I ended up working with a really big influencer from the Middle East, which was a peculiar experience. Living in London was a cool experience, as there are quite a lot of opportunities in the city.
I quit commercial when I got more interested in how visual art affects the individual and society.
In 2018 social media within web 2.0 were in full swing and I could see this culture forming around certain visuals and people representing themselves. At some point, I’ve started thinking that I was contributing my skills to something that I don’t believe in…to these artificial personas that we are creating…contributing my skills to the fashion industry… Do we need that many clothes considering the damage it does to the planet? I didn’t wanna be part of this perpetual mass production-mass consumption machine. It’s something I speak about in my art too. Once I’ve decided to leave that world, I spent several months preparing my first exhibition.
What was the breaking point when you decided: “I’m going into NFT”?
It came through research, really. I suppose that sometimes when I make certain decisions…they just seem like the right thing to do. The research that I’ve done around the whole NFT and crypto sphere got me excited and interested.
The thing that really drew me towards NFTs was that you’re not just producing a ton of content to get somebody’s attention to hire you or buy your print, you can actually go out there and claim your ownership. I find the elimination of intermediaries interesting, giving value to digital art, and to a certain degree, giving more power to artists and taking it away from certain gatekeepers.
NFTs also made me excited about publishing my work online after not having it published for a long time. That also includes all the people that will be able to see my art on Endemic. I’m focused on creating, researching and making better, cooler stuff that makes us think about how we can live better lives and change things for the better.
Xylodrone’s creations are split into 2 major categories: expressing the self and describing the world around her. Through the utilisation of photography, digital manipulation, abstract calligraphy, writing and audio, she aims to express herself and criticise the world, as well as to understand it.
Xylodrone creations split into major categories: expression of self and descriptions of the world around them. Through the utilisation of photography, digital manipulation, abstract calligraphy, writing and audio, she aims to express herself and criticise the world, as well as to understand it.
Let’s talk about your art. Tell us about “The Other Side of Dual Reality” series
This series required a lot of research. I was trying to figure out what got us in this point of society where we live in certain ways, that some people are marginalized and we have all kinds of problems. I made a big mind map and tried to connect one thing to another.
Here is the example — If you put a lot of people in front of one person and ask if this person is beautiful, everybody will have a different opinion depending on their upbringings, cultural backgrounds, influences and so on. But if you took them in front of the specific landscape (seaside we’re having in Split, for example) nobody would argue it’s not beautiful. Therefore, the only universal beauty is national beauty. It also touches upon things like — we’re having this image of what the ideal person should be depending on visual cultural differences and then in other to achieve this look we tend to spend money on material possessions, surgeries and similar.
I also took some time to think about how working a lot makes people in London use drugs or drink much. As you might know, the world spends much money on medication for depression and similar, the number of suicides have been rising and I think this is very much correlated with social media and technology.
The piece “Consume, Produce, Reproduce” describes this vicious circle in which we’re living. If you think of our lives, they are full of repetitive habits — we work and then go out and consume products, spend money. It makes you think is this what our lives are, is there something beyond that?
I don’t know how are you familiar with the story of the Tower of Babel. It is a myth found in the majority of ancient and modern religions. The myth says that humans were building a tower to Heaven and at the time there was only one language and script. God got angry at humans and broke the language and writing system into many others, as well as the scattered society around the world. I feel like Earth is going to collapse beneath us if we continue to abuse our own power.
Communication and Miscommunication were my first attempts at abstract calligraphy. The script within is the work is a fusion of the old English print type and traditional Arabic script (even though it is abstract). We always had these tensions between the East and the West and I believe that one of the biggest issues of our society is miscommunication and lack of understanding that we have for each other.
Can you share more about the calligraphy used on the pieces and maybe secret messages behind them?
Xylodrone: It’s abstract calligraffiti, some of them have actual text, some don’t. I started doing calligraphy at university. Then I just wanted to make something that doesn’t involve a screen. It developed into its own thing. I do a lot of research and try to explain things, understand certain things in the world. Calligraphy is very often something I do when I don’t think. When I was a kid I was interested in graffiti and love the aesthetics of this type of art. It’s a part of the culture and when you go to different cities you’ll see all these kinds of tags… it’s like somebody is leaving a mark on the city.
On some occasions, there are secret messages within my work. I did two pieces that were completely splattered but when you open the frame there were messages inside. Also, I have several pieces where I write in a way that you can’t immediately understand what it says there, but when you look closely you can decipher it.
Why did you call it “The Other Side of Dual Reality”
Xylodrone: Actually, I picked up the term dual reality in the book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. The book argues that humans are at the top of the food chain because we have the capacity to collaborate with a lot of strangers, and more importantly because we believe in things that are not real. When you think about it — there is “actual” reality and the “other reality” where we invented these systems and beliefs and other things. This series tries to deconstruct all these elements of the dual reality with the aim of trying to understand what everything around us is and what we can do about it.
There is another series that will be available on the Endemic launch. Tell us about Bioficial
Xylodrone: The landscapes and the images were taken in Munich during 2017 and the portraits were taken in 2018 in my room, a London warehouse.
Sometimes we have these points in life when we collect certain images and works but they don’t really get a meaning until we put them in context with something else. They encompass previous experiences and how they are represented in the present.
What are your current projects that we need to check out?
Xylodrone: I’m working on an audiovisual engine at Vybez, we’ll be partnering up with the NFT platform MoonBeans to release an interactive NFT experience. We think it’s going to be the first type of this project and that’s really exciting. I think that the future of NFTs is the moment where the collector becomes the creator. People will have control over what they are turning in in NFT. I’ve been working on some other projects that have similar things in mind.
Music NFTs are just about to heat up. They started already but I don’t think they got as much recognition as they should, but we’re getting there.
Regarding the Dotsoma experience, we’re building this massive space where people will be able to come in and view some really cool NFT work from the ecosystem and get information about the Polkadot and Kusama blockchains.
One part of the project is providing easy access to information about Polkadot and Kusama. Every blockchain has this problem where the relevant documentation is everywhere. It’s very difficult sometimes to explain blockchain technology to somebody who doesn’t know anything about it.
All important info newcomers need to know will be condensed in VR. The other aim of the project is to provide a meetup space for the community, so we can all come in, hang out, host events like AMAs, and at some point external events as well. I’ll be actually releasing a song that’s going to be part of our trailer and people will be able to mint the version of that song for themselves. There is also going to be an NFT offering and more.
Just amazing. All those experiences surely benefit Xylo as a person and as an artist, especially being so young. Kudos and high hopes for her from the whole Endemic team and we’re happy we can pave new roads together. We’re sure some of her projects could change the scenery of the digital world.