- read

10 Questions with Brendan Dawes | TR Lab x AI 2041

TR Lab 50

1. Who is Brendan Dawes?

I’m a generative artist, which is a posh, fancy way of saying I’m a geeky programmer who makes art. I’ve been doing it for about 25 years now. My work is centered around what it means to be human, and the idea of beauty, but I’m using computers to do that work. There’s always this relationship between the machine, and what it is to be human.

2. Why do you create NFTs?

Well, I don’t really think of it as creating NFTs. I’m interested in creating work, so NFTs are a mechanism for me to distribute that work.

3. What are the benefits of NFTs over other mediums of art?

It’s an amazing paradigm shift. You can actually earn a living from just creating the work, and selling the work with your ideas.

Three One Three, 2021

4. How do NFTs change the art collecting experience?

NFTs are exciting because there’s no middle man. The relationship with the collector is fantastic. You can have this one-on-one relationship with them. You know who’s bought it. Or maybe you don’t, maybe they’re pseudo-anonymous, which I like.

5. What is your process for creating artworks?

It’s a scary thing, isn’t it, the blank page. The blank page in this case is a blank computer system. The best thing I always do is I just start by making crap…you see what starts to resonate. Even though I started as a programmer and used processing and would type to make work, I always found it frustrating. It’s like — I have to put words in, in order to make stuff? I could do it, but I didn’t find it particularly modern.

I have used Houdini over the last few years because I find it a beautiful, visual playground. You can wire things together in these discreet modules and then if you want to code, which I do, you can combine the best of both worlds. That’s my process really. It’s centered around play, and iteration, and editing.

6. How did AI 2041 inspire you?

When I saw this chapter about happiness and the phrase Ultimate Services for Your Happiness, I thought it would be an interesting path to explore.

The Happiness Machine, 2012

7. Can you explain your piece, “Ultimate Services For Your Happiness”?

It’s about that dichotomy between human beings and machines, and can a machine truly understand what happiness is? And if it can, what does that mean for being human, and our future, and society?

“One of Dawes’ “Happiness Mainframes”, which are 60 unique still frames from “Ultimate Services For Your Happiness”

8. What is your favorite detail in the artwork?

It’s the relationship between the lines that flow in a very organic way, compared to the lines that are following a grid. I’ve done flowing lines before, but with this one, I wanted to explore slightly different aesthetics. So you get the kind of austere nature of a machine, together with the human-ness of the flowy lines.

9. How does “Ultimate Services For Your Happiness” fit in with your previous work?

People have told me there’s an element of human-ness in my artwork. I think that’s the correlation of all my other work I have done. But I don’t press SHIFT + F12 to make it more human. That’s what comes out — I don’t know any other way to do it. It’s one of those X-factor things where you don’t know why you like something, but somehow it speaks to you.

10. Is there anything you’d like to explore next?

I’d love to work with people who are at the top of their game, because they push you to make better work. I’d love to work with Christopher Nolan, I’d love to work with Jonathan Glazer, Lynn Ramsey. I’ve been lucky to have some fabulous collaborations this year, and they have pushed me to make the best work I can, and I’vee learned from them. You want to surround yourself with people you can learn from.

“Generative art is the art of our time. Make no doubt about it. That’s what I’m excited about.”