In conversation with Carrie Able

We met the American multidisciplinary artist Carrie Able, exponent of the new digital frontier and the NFT, present with the multimedia exhibition DALL’ANIMA inside the cycle Personal Structures: Reflections, project organized by the European Cultural Centre, at Palazzo Bembo, in Venice. Through experimentation, the artist discusses her practice, which integrates performing arts, holographic, musical, digital, VR, AR, XR, cryptocurrency and apps, in a holistic manner if compared to traditional artistic mediums.

Sara Buoso: I was delighted to visit the exhibition DALL’ANIMA at the European Cultural Centre, at Palazzo Bembo, in Venice, would you like to introduce us to the exhibition?
Carrie Able: DALL’ANIMA is an exhibition that I put all of my creativity and soul into for more than two years. I was grateful to have been invited to participate by Sara Danieli, the Art Exhibition Organizer at the European Cultural Centre, Italy. Also, I am grateful to have my trusted colleague Sam Light who curated the exhibition. While there are elements that are more traditional media, such as the oil on wood paintings, everything has an extended reality component. The oil paintings have an augmented reality trigger and work with a custom app, allowing sections of the oil painting to work as AR-Markers, where figures and color fields come alive. There is a fully immersive, virtual reality painting viewable within the exhibition on a VR headset, and also VR video documentation on large monitor displays. The sculptures hanging from the ceiling were created while I was wearing a VR headset and sculpting in mid-air, and then they are 3D printed. Then there is a holographic display of six of my original songs performed with my choreographer Pink Supakarn Niruktisart and dancer Kate Griffler. All of these elements relate to notions of the joy and pain of the human experience. Printed on a wall within the exhibition are the lyrics from one of my songs:
It was within the cage of my own body…
I taught my mind it was free…
Steps I may not walk…
But miles I run…
Preparing for flight…
Through the prison of physical weakness…
My strengths were born…
And I fly without ever leaving the ground…

Can you tell us more about your background and, in particular, the epiphany when you recognized the necessity to integrate and experiment with these innovative languages?
2016 was such a pivotal moment for me, where three things happened. First, I had a solo exhibition in Soho, New York, where I presented my first body of paintings where I was not referencing anything previously, almost as if these works were visualizing a stream of surreal consciousness. Second, that year was the first time I ever saw virtual reality as fine art, thanks to the exhibition Dreams of Dalì. I became so fascinated about this medium as I was not just looking at a painting, but I was in the painting. With this interest, I began working with this technology, and it happened that I was offered a residency at a VR studio. Third fact: that same year I started writing music and songs, collaborating with people who knew so much more the music technique than meand that allowed me to question everything that I was taught about visual art as well. I began writing music and realized that my lack of education in this media could actually be beneficial for creativity.With all of these things happening at once, when I started doing VR work very regularly from 2017, when it made so much sense to push everything and see how it could all fit together: traditional painting, virtual reality technology, and original music. My career however began with the visual arts by the age of 14. I had extensive training in traditional renaissance master techniques of the great oil painters by my mentor Leslie Adams. I pushed this media and experiment developing a more surreal vantage while always including figuration.

What is your personal definition of the “Metaverse”? What is the potential of dealing with this dimension?
There are a lot of misrepresentations in the media. The Metaverse is an extension of the Internet, experienced in real-time volumetric interactions. The term “Metaverse” was first coined by the American science fiction novelist Neal Stephenson in his book Snow Crash, in 1992. I think the best way to experience it is through extended reality (XR) glasses. Just as the Internet is not owned or operated by any one person or company and exists in a singular form, the same is true of the Metaverse. We have different virtual worlds in the same way we have different websites. In the near future, immersive wearable glasses will be as ubiquitous as smartphones, and that’s when it will become truly mainstream.

Can you tell us how your artistic research may differ or not differ from more traditional practices? For example, how do you conduct your daily practice?
Each day I devote specific creative time into creating without expectations and that is where the magic happens.  My synesthesia fuels my multidisciplinary practice. When I work with such a new field, I am often figuring something out on my own because I am trying to do something that has not been done before. It is similar to any other media as I feel I must explore without expectations until it becomes intuitive. Then you can create without much thought in a transcendental manner. When we are discussing traditional painting, we expect something that is stationary and that exists only in the visual. But I think that in the future, the artists that deal woth new media are going to be thought as world builders. These classifications will start to melt away to create an extended reality. In this sense, art, music and all genres will continue to be more and more blended, and this will also foster more collaborations.

I am interested in your experimenting with new materials such as digital painting, 3D sculpture and holography. What has made you select these materials and why?
I think the most interesting features in this creative process is the ability to paint with light and the ability to create without gravity and with interchangeable scale, but also the possibility of incorporating many different medias all within one work. I was also initially very drawn to experimenting with digitally native media because of the possibility of inclusion and accessibility, both for creators and exhibitors. Through this technology, I have the capability of producing work and displaying it, communicating ideas for people all around the world. I believe that media like music and digital art allow to people to view works in the ways that the artists intended.

Drawing from the title DALL’ANIMA for your show, you seem to suggest an animistic, almost spiritual approach to new technologies. Can you tell us more about your view on this matter?
For what concerns the title, I wanted to create an analogy between science and technology. To me science is very spiritual. There are endless possibilities, be they transcendental, or related to the power of connection, or even more evolutionary for the human experience. Differently from the last twenty years, when digital practices were isolating, the Web3movement is more community based, respectful and encouraging for the artists with digitally native practices. The title came to me while I was creating in a stream of consciousness, in an empath way, feeling the exaltation as well as the anguish of my fellow humans. Also, I chose to have the title in Italian to pay honor to the arts and the history of Venice.

You are represented by the platform Nifty Gateway, can you explain how NFTs play a role in your creative practice?
I have had an amazing experience with this platform: they foster a wonderful team and devoted collectors, and I appreciate their focus on fine art. I am working on another release with them, dropping on July 26th. One thing that’s great about their platform is the possibility for collectors to purchase using USD, making their website more user friendly. NFTs have been a really divisive topic for people recently, but eventually, they will become something perfectly integrated. The only aspect that people need to understand about this topic is to have a belief in digital scarcity. The most revolutionary thing is that digital art can have as much respect as the other media because of the new respect for digital scarcity and the NFTs embedded capability for resale royalties. A pivotal moment in history right now.

Your work suggests an experience that is not limited to forms of interaction and immersion, but it suggests something close to the power of relations and imagination. How would you describe the next frontier of the artistic experience?
I completely agree with what you have said, the power of imagination and connection is so important and the technology as a vehicle for this work is really just a facilitator. It is still up to us as humans to create an art that transcends. The next frontier of what I will be focusing on will certainly be an extension of everything in this exhibition. I am working with one of my favorite virtual worlds in the Metaverse to bring everything that I have been doing in real life into digital life, and in addition to that I am continuing to develop my custom app which has AR and VR experiences, as well as an interactive poetry button. There will be inclusion and accessibility for people who are not able to access fully immersive virtual worlds, and they can still interact with my art on a free custom app, which can be downloaded in the Apple App Store by searching for Carrie Able Art. Across all my work, I seek to inspire future artists and creative technologists to understand that these two communities are incredibly connected.

Sara Buoso

Info:

Carrie Able, DALL’ANIMA
23/04/2022 – 27/11/2022
Personal Structures: Reflections
European Cultural Centre
Palazzo Bembo
Riva del Carbon 30124 Venezia
http://carrieable.com/
http://carrieable.com/app

Carrie Able, portrait. Ph. Brendan Jay Sullivan

Carrie Able, Dall’Anima La Pittura #1-8, 2021. Ph. Beata Mamrol, courtesy the artist

Carrie Able, Dall’Anima Figura Volante #1-3, 2022. Ph. Beata Mamrol, courtesy the artist

Carrie Able, Dall’Anima Immersivo “Embers”, still from the Virtual Reality Digital Painting, 2022. Courtesy the artist

Carrie Able, Dall’Anima Immersivo “Embers”, still from the Virtual Reality Digital Painting, 2022. Courtesy the artist

Carrie Able, Dall’Anima Immersivo “Embers”, still from the Virtual Reality Digital Painting, 2022. Courtesy the artist

Carrie Able Dall’Anima La Pittura #7, #5 (Augmented Reality View via Custom App), Ph. Beata Mamrol, courtesy the artist


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