VESA is a true pioneer of cryptoart, and loves to push the boundaries, to see just how far it can go when it’s combined with technology in new ways. And his upcoming piece The Br8ve is the pinnacle of what can be achieved, right now, when art meets technology.
We wanted to find out what inspired VESA to explore this new realm, in such a revolutionary way, so we asked him…
How did you get involved in cryptoart? And have you always been interested in technology’s role in art?
“My artwork was already high res files in 2008 and I had to HODL all of my major files for over a decade waiting for NFTs to become a thing, because I knew they were going to be at some point, but it was just how, when, and why that was in question. In the meanwhile, while I was also transitioning from filmmaker to contemporary artist, back in 2006 I saw a bunch of documentaries about finance and how it works and I realised that this is probably the most important issue of our time. That if we don’t solve this problem of how money comes into existence (because it’s very different to how most people think it happens) we will be entering this kind of a phase where people will be at each other’s throats and have no understanding of why there’s constantly more competition between us. I also think it’s really difficult to innovate anything in the traditional arts. It’s meant to be a really innovative space and I found it more stifling than being in corporate Finland. So that was an interesting experience. With crypto, everything just opened up.”
Your piece The Br8ve, which is being auctioned on 23rd May, is such a wonderful demonstration of how crypto can open things up. Can you tell us a little bit about how this piece came into being and what it’s about?
“How this all began is that I was introduced to the OGs of bitcoin. The people who were behind bitcoin. I met one of these OGs, who’s been part of the whole bitcoin community from the beginning, and made a lot of money, and had great stories to tell. I can’t tell you who this individual is. I can say that it’s a ‘he’ but he wants to remain anonymous, and essentially he told me that Satoshi Nokomoto, the founder of bitcoin, is very likely to have been 8 different people who were all experts in their fields. And basically I spent five months transforming these conversations I had with this guy, and this is a serious guy, he’s wealthy and powerful in many ways, and no joke. So the conversations were among the most intense ones I’ve ever had in my life and basically he told me the story of bitcoin from the beginning to where we are now. I took that as the basis for the piece, as well as me infusing my own journey of 4 years in bitcoin pretty immersively into this one piece, and like I said it took me five months to create the artwork and there’s this mini documentary on YouTube about it. And then I magically met this guy Frank Spalteholz who’s this genius who designs his own VR headsets and just understands the whole thing on such a profound level that it’s very interesting to work with this guy.”
Can you tell us more about your collaborators on this project?
“Honestly, with all of these little details and the story, you could write a whole book easy on the actual substance of this art piece. And the collaborations are such an important part of its story. So along with Frank’s work, there’s a soundtrack by this wonderful NFT musician, called Mighty33. The soundtrack is 11 minutes, and the work that we did with Mighty33 alone, to make the soundtrack just the right flavour for this was incredible. He’s a very talented individual. That alone was a lot of crafting, but of course the main bulk of my utmost respect goes to Frank Spalteholz for the transformation of the visuals. This is the job of multiple people that he’s done, and it’s utterly amazing. He’s been transforming this artwork into VR and this now consists of about 30 million voxels. It’s incredible. There’s no images there, all the details of the story have been implemented into this motion piece, and it becomes so much more impressive when you see it in action.”
How did you feel the first time you saw it in VR?
“Accomplished, definitely. But to be honest, there’s not really been much time to process it. I’ve been working so hard, even on weekends, for so many consecutive months now. There are moments where you have a little bit of time to appreciate things, but they don’t happen often. I’m hoping I will have some moments with this properly after the next round of events are done, and I’ll be able to take a small summer holiday and to make sure to sink it all in. But when I recorded a promo video for the piece (and I don’t even know how many times I’ve put on the headset and watched it now) the child-like awe and the wows still come naturally. It doesn’t deteriorate when you go there and have the chance to be present in the piece. And of course, when you watch the film, when all of the details that are there all of a sudden start to reveal themselves and what they represent inside of this world, and the larger story of how this came to be, it’s incredible to experience.”
It sounds like a very intense piece of work. But it’s not just the art that’s impressive, there’s also the technology element too, which involves a state of the art headset and high spec laptop. Tell us a bit about the technology side of the piece.
“Absolutely, it’s a whole year’s worth of work and I’m very proud of the art. But what makes this fascinating and why the drop on 23rd is so special, is that this artwork is going to be sold with a headset that almost no one in the world has. I made a partnership with a Finnish VR company called Varjo. And they’re a special case in the sense that you can only get their headsets if you are an industrial player, pretty much. Their biggest clients are Apple, Lockheed Martin and so forth, so basically industrial level tools. It’s used in medical surgery, it’s used for flying planes and things like that, because the resolution is 8K which is the same resolution as your eye, and four times the amount you get with most of the headsets, and there are no others that reach this level of performance.”
This sounds like a very different approach for Varjo too, how have they enjoyed being part of this journey?
“It is, it’s really wonderful. I had one of the guys from Varjo come to the studio where I was able to convince them to do this thing with me, it was beautiful to be able to get someone of this calibre to come and visit the studio. He plays it very, very cool but you could see he was like ‘damn’. When they saw it was something that was done to this kind of level, I think they saw that it can also work for them as a promotion. They don’t actually have anything like it as a promotional tool for themselves at the moment, because they focus so much on the industrial solutions and their custom software usually goes to how to fly an airplane, or military collaborations and those kinds of things. So it’s the beginning of a new era, I think, for them to start exploring what this headset can do on another level for people and a different kind of inspiration. So that’s quite something.”
Wow, that is an incredible partnership! So, this isn’t just your regular cryptoart, you also get the tech along with it?
“Yes, exactly. We’re going to be selling this as an edition of 10, the very first one went to the OG who commissioned the art piece to begin with. So this will be 2/10 that we’re auctioning with Terra Virtua and the minimum bid starts at $100K because you get the headset and it goes along with a $4K laptop. It’s the most expensive laptop I’ve ever bought in my life to get the experience rolling and it also includes the controllers you use to navigate this art piece.”
The fact you get the technology along with the art is in itself a huge deal, but what else makes this such a special auction?
“It feels incredibly privileged and luxurious, because I am the only artist Varjo has made a direct partnership with, they don’t have any other artistic collaborations, it’s mainly airplanes and manufacturers. Even if you’re an emirate sheikh, it’s very unlikely you’d have these, nor would it be easy to get one. You’d have to pay a lot of money. But since people like rare things, we decided to also offer this in a way that there’s a ‘buy now’ option for $1 million, which means that we won’t sell editions 3-10, and you would be the only one who owns a commercial version of this piece. But if not, we’ll just happily keep selling the different versions on different auctions to private people to see how well it will do. All editions will come with the headset ready configured. It’s a very different thing when you put on the headset. When we were testing it, it reduced people to feeling child-like, because it’s just so different to any other experience.”
And how would you sum up what this piece means to you?
“What this is representing is the origins of bitcoin, potentially the first version owned by the ones who make up Satoshi Nakamoto, as well as a year’s worth of work. I’d say this is in terms of the substance, as well as how it’s delivered, it’s the world’s most advanced cryptoart ever made. And it comes with the world’s most advanced VR headset. So that’s what we’re putting on the table here. I couldn’t be happier than to be dropping this with Terra Virtua, because you guys are the absolute future of NFTs, and I’m so happy to be joining the team.”
Wow! Artwork from world-famous crypto artist VESA Kivinen, an exclusive VR headset that you can’t get anywhere else, and a high res laptop worth $4K into the bargain??? That is quite the auction!
Huge thanks to VESA for sharing some background on this incredible piece. It’s safe to say that this is going to be a game changer for digital art, and we are beyond excited to see the piece up close and personal on 23rd. Don’t forget to join us on Sunday at 2pm BST on our Twitch channel as we hear more from VESA about his work, and finally get a glimpse of this incredible new cryptoart.