Sabato Interview

Server Room 04 / Admin Desk, The Offshore Firm (2021)” by sabato

Who are you?

My name is Sabato, I am a Brazilian new media artist and photographer based in Western Massachusetts. 

When did you start making art?

I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid and I got into photography during a dark moment when I flunked out of college and took my unused tuition money to buy a point-and-shoot camera. However, I think my art practice really came into focus in 2011, when I started experimenting with glitch processes within my own photography and video work.

What software do you use for your art?

I work using glitch-based processes so my toolkit is always expanding. I think the basic tools for making glitch art is a hexadecimal code editor, a digital audio workstation like Audacity that can interpret any media file as raw data, a text editor like Notepad++, as well as media conversion tools like ffmpeg and XnView.

I have been creating more videogame-based artworks, so I use a slew of emulators and programs like Vinesauce ROM Corruptor, Real-Time Corruptor, and Cheat Engine.

“Boardroom (Subsidiary Branch), The Offshore Firm (2021)” by sabato

What inspires your style?

I’m inspired by glitches and how they exist within systems and schemes of production. Many times this leads to interrogating the systems themselves to see how they are designed to cope with malfunction. I’m also inspired by what I refer to as the “post-photographic image.” I think that the internet era has reinterpreted what photography means into a flattened concept of digital imaging. Think about the way selfies or animated GIFs have turned into a visual vernacular, or how 3D video game environments simulate camera mechanics in their photo modes. The act of taking a picture means something completely different today than it did in the 90s or 00s, but much of the institutional photography world has yet to catch up.

 What message, feelings, or ideas do you hope to spread with your art?

I would say that my works have a tendency to depict the contradictions of living within systems designed to fail. I think many people can relate to that in some way, either because of our neoliberal economic system; or because of the ecological perils posed by climate change; or because social media platforms distort and commodify our sense of personhood. There’s so many examples to choose from. For me personally, it’s the immigration system.

I spent about 16 years being an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. and the big takeaway from that experience is that no one really chooses to be undocumented, instead immigrants are denied access to civil society by the state in order to create vulnerable and exploitable populations. My hope is that in depicting these encounters between subject and structures, I can create work that is relatable to a variety of people and that it can build connections of solidarity, even if our plights are different.

“c38a (Little Spider) // [My ] Synthetic Autumn” by sabato

What adds value to your art?

I think it comes from the amount of work I put into creating my own source materials for glitch interventions. Whether it’s photography, video, 3D graphics, or a videogame performance, I try to be committed to the glitch process and to building a context for the work itself. For example, my current work-in-progress, “The Offshore Firm,” started with me capturing the demo spaces in an obscure Japanese 3DO game from 1993 called “The Life Stage: Virtual House,” but as I went on designing my own spaces in that game.

I started thinking about this world where the Offshore Firm manages vast amounts of wealth by circulating capital within an expanding portfolio of properties, institutions, businesses, and so forth. It became not only about aesthetics, but also about concocting a retro-dystopia that is both idyllic and foreclosing.

Do you have any pieces that are your favorite?

This is hard to answer because I tend to be hypercritical of my own work. My DACALOGUE series is important to me for being a personal record of my experience being undocumented and receiving temporary status through the DACA program.


I’m also fond of my works glitching Ecco: The Tides of Time, the Sega Genesis sequel to Ecco the Dolphin. It’s one of my all-time favorite games that has stuck with me since I was a kid.

Finally, I was really pleased with my recent work “The Capybaras of Ipaussu,” in which I photographed a population of Capybaras in 2019 near my family’s hometown in Brazil before a spotted-fever outbreak forced officials to remove and euthanize the creatures. In creating these Capybara portraits, I discovered some new ways to glitch wavelet-based compress image formats from the 00s, including a forgotten format that was developed in Brazil.

“The Capybaras of Ipaussu [ Descolada // Saturated, 08A ]” by sabato

What emotions do your artworks personally bring you?

For me creating art is almost like a form of therapy. I don’t know how I would live without being able to do so.

What would you say to somebody having a bad day?

“Same lol” (on a serious note if a friend were having too many bad days, I’d probably encourage them to talk to a therapist or find a network of care.)

Why did you join Hic Et Nunc?

This past spring I minted my first NFTs on Rarible and then on Foundation, but the experience left me feeling alienated and disappointed by how expensive and scammy it felt. Back then, these platforms didn’t even have working search functions on their site, it was so sketchy. HEN, on the other hand, felt different.

It was based on a cryptocoin that’s not associated with wanton financial speculation, so minting, buying, and gifting artwork is actually affordable. Also, the platform was created by Brazilians, so it wasn’t centered around artists from the global north with large social media followings.

I decided to try it out and when I saw established artists like LaTurbo Avedon use the platform, I decided to stick with it.

“Client Reception Area (Floral District Branch), The Offshore Firm (2021)” by sabato

How have you enjoyed your CleanNFT experience so far?

To be honest, I’ve only really started enjoying my CleanNFT experience this fall. Over the summer, a bunch of my friends from the Glitch Artists Collective group on Facebook started migrating to NFT spaces on Twitter and joining up with other new media artists. Now, there’s a growing and supportive community and that has made all the difference.

Most of my collectors are other artists and, within such a community, you have less of a traditional art market and more of a mutual aid network. It means the world to me to see my artist friends, many of whom come from marginalized communities or from the Global South, make an actual living doing what they love.

Anybody you’d like to shout-out?

Totally and everyone I’m shouting out here is an amazing artist, so check them out!

First off, big shout out to @SkyGoodman4 for egging me to get back on Twitter and HEN and to @chepertom for helping me connect with the Glitch group there. Much love to @letsglitchit for her support and for being an admin saint to the budding glitch community. Also a big shout out to curator extraordinaire and virtual phenomenologist @habitual_truant for the support and encouragement with my “Offshore Firm” series.

I love how HEN has brought together artists that I’ve previously known from different strands of life. Shout out to @rodellwarner and @diandrecaprice whose work I adore. Shout out to @canekzapata , one of my favorite poets today, for gifting me a gorgeous jellyfish medusa on HEN. Of course, shout out to my Brazilian artist friends @estelle_flores_ @ramanat_kuraan @gabriel_koi @____elbi @flp_gfx and @bernizeck . Lastly, I want to send some love to fellow glitch art homies @draincain @pixelform @ex_mortal_ @ferdoropreza and @KitYoun35499064

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