About Etherpoems, a text by Stina Gustafsson
In April 2021 a new project called Etherpoems, dealing with on-chain poetry, was launched. Initiated by Artchick, it consisted of 206 poems by nine artists and was released on Ethereum in the shape of an NFT. At this point in time, it was still rather unusual for releases like this to have their own smart contracts, but Artchick insisted on the project having its own smart contract from the very beginning. What brought Etherpoems truly on-chain is the access to the poem itself in the contract section of each NFT on Etherscan. It connects each poem directly to the technology that serves this project, making them all fully on-chain poems.
aurèce vettier, an artist studio started by Paul Mouginot in 2019, was among the artists that were included in the release of the first collection. Their poem, Last Night Before The Ascent, was written together with GPT-3 algorithms. This type of collaboration, between the artist and a machine, or algorithm, is noticeable in the practice of the collective. Works similar to this have always informed the wider method of aurèce vettier, a practice which has evolved progressively over the years.
Though the technology is present in the piece, it is not its most prominent feature. Instead, it is a delicate presentation of a collaborative process between humans and technology. As with many of aurèce vettier pieces, it has a sound grounding in the past, alluding to historical works, but always with its own take on historical narratives. Last Night Before The Ascent finds inspiration in the unfinished novel Mount Analogue: A novel of symbolically authentic non-euclidean adventures in mountain climbing by French poet René Daumal. Though clearly hinting at this piece, it’s not repetitive, but rather something new that honours the novel and the history before its own realisation.
Last Night before The Ascent, AI generated, on-chain poem.
A conversation between the digital and the physical and 2023 Crypto Art Award Shortlist, The Lumen Prize.
“The poem-object is a composition that aims to combine resources from poetry and the visual arts, and to contemplate their capacity for mutual exaltation.”
— André Breton
Poème Objkt is a conversation between poetry and the visual arts brought to life through the liminal play of the physical and the digital. As contemporary expressions of Breton’s poem-object, the pieces in this exhibition present works of poetry, experimental writing and literature on the blockchain that enhance, reinvent and reimagine the relationship between the text and the image, the analog and the digital, ultimately opening up a space for dialogue that blurs and challenges the lines that divide.
This co-curation with L'Avant Galerie Vossen and theVERSEverse in Paris materializes in two parts:
Part 1 opened in October 2022. L’Avant Galerie Vossen and theVERSEverse curated the works of Sasha Stiles, Ross Goodwin, Ana María Caballero, aurèce vettier, Campbell McGrath, Robness, Kalen Iwamoto, Julien Silvano, Jason Sholl, and Saul Steinberg.
This first exhibition’s curatorial framework falls along the following lines:
POEM = WORK OF ART
Part 2 takes place May 2023 at Librairie Métamorphoses in Paris, with a section of the exhibition taking place at L’Avant Galerie Vossen.
Exhibition view © Photo: Jean-Louis Losi