Aranya Interview

“Your laughter is contagious” by Aranya

Who are you?

A hybrid. An immigrant. An activist. Someone perpetually striving for harmony and balance.

When did you start making art?

I’m a late bloomer. As a kid I loved art but had no direction, because (present day) Indian culture doesn’t value art the same way it does science or engineering. If you didn’t show instant technical skill in school, it was considered a waste of time to make art. Thankfully my love for music transcended this barrier and as a teenager I got into making beats on bootleg dj software. I also loved writing, something I want to get back to this year. Eventually I found that it was culturally acceptable to make art if I did it under the guise of a coder. And so here we are.

How important is experimentation in art?

Experimentation is everything. A complacent mind is like stagnant water interrupting the natural flow of energy. Whether it’s making art or cooking or relationships or anything in life really, we’re constantly changing, learning, and unlearning.

“Curl Culture by Aranya

When did you start making generative art?

In 2009, I went to grad school for new media art. My undergrad was in electronics (which i hated), so this was quite a hard turn and generative art blew my mind. For someone who migrated to a new continent with no friends or family, it was easy to be captured and consumed by it. And so, I dived headlong into all of it. Cellular automata, complex systems, fluid dynamics, generative audio… It was overwhelming and i was all over the place (and still am). During that time, I developed a technique to sonify geometry by converting video signals directly to sound. I still use it for my Mainframe Meditation pieces on HeN and can’t wait to explore it further.

Where did you first hear about FxHash?

Maybe about a week after it was in beta, I saw a tweet (probably from @idlebit or @1x1_NFT), and I think Sam Tsao’s Blobby was the first piece I saw and collected. That and idlebit’s Sound Check instantly sold me to the platform (apart from it being open and on Tezos).

Your Genesis piece Dandelion is very tranquil. What was the story behind this creation?

In April of last year, when the pandemic’s second wave ravaged through India, all my family there got Covid. They were really suffering and not being able to travel and see them left me feeling helpless and anxious. So, I turned to the two things that always help in times of despair- music and meditation. I spent days making and listening to generative, meditative music to stay grounded. I felt this urgent need to make it available to as many people as possible in case it helped them the way it helped me. From this, a generative sound engine called “Bloom Echo” was born (on HeN). Even after months I was still processing this experience, leading me to a deeper understanding of mind-body oneness by intentionally slowing things down. So, when FxHash happened, I reimagined the sound toy as Dandelions- meditative sound loops slowly spreading through the world like seeds of a wildflower in wind. It’s funny that Dandelion is one of the earliest pieces on FxHash, but also maybe one of the slowest getting minted, which I think is true to the spirit of its genesis.

“Dandelion #375 by Aranya (click to play)

What is your creative process for creating generative art?

A lot of generative art making is going down rabbit holes of happy accidents and so experimentation in this context takes a whole new meaning. Often experimentation that leads to flow is a sign that I’m on the right track. Thinking of self as a medium rather than a driver of creation- when there is unnatural resistance, I know that I’m doing something wrong. Those are the most challenging times, but of equal value because they help create an awareness to learn from mistakes. A running theme in most of my work is something that changes or builds over time, and this helps me stay on track, too.

Which FxHash project was the most challenging to create?

Crayon Beach for sure. It’s very different from anything i’ve done before. I tried many different styles of painting with wireframes and ended up scrapping half of them an hour before publishing (a good decision in hindsight). During this time i also hurt my lower back and was basically sitting in pain coding for hours because i wanted it to look a certain way. Not recommended.

“crayon beach | stretchy jeans #127 by Aranya

Are there any mints that stand out the most to you?

This is hard to answer. I’m obsessed with exploring interspecies relationships and deepening my understanding of humans as nature (not just a part of or separate from it). Both Plume and Wildfire are explorations of this thought process. Plume imagines shrubs and groves made of bird feathers (I was thinking a lot about Jeff Vandermeer’s books Annihilation and Borne). Wildfire is a call to listen to centuries of indigenous knowledge, to embrace our symbiotic relationship with a natural phenomenon instead of reinventing ways to “fix” it which often results in making it worse.

What does Aranya have in store for 2022?

More music (generative and otherwise). Getting a deeper understanding of the history of Indian/Asian art. More explorations in interspecies relationships. And I want to bring my mandala based generative pottery to FxHash, too. This is going to be a fun technical challenge because the original is all in Unity and I’ll have to port it to threeJS.

“Wildfire #27 by Aranya

Is there anyone you want to shout-out?

The artists in this space who’re a constant source of inspiration. The collectors who’ve shown genuine interest in my work and some who’ve become dear friends now. My “real life” friends who always support my work (despite the reservations some of them have for crypto). It means so much! And last but not the least, the CleanNFT discord gang. In a world of trustless transactions, it becomes imperative to have friends you can trust, driven by the same ethos as you.

Anything else?

Thank you for providing a platform for artists’ voices to be heard. We can be a shy bunch! And on a general note- this is a fast-moving space. And the world around us is quickly changing. So, remember to slow down, hydrate and listen to your body.

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