Yazid Interview

“Hashed Cities #357” by Yazid

Who are you?

I’m Yazid, I create art with code and algorithms, I’m currently based in Brunei, a little country in South-east Asia.

When did you start making art?

I don’t think I ever knew or referred to it as “art” but I’ve always identified as a creative. I was always the type to just play with tools to create things and share them with friends, whether this meant using the photocopier in the school library to make copies of wrestling-themed Word art, or the Mac in the computer lab to make desktop wallpapers, or a copy of Macromedia Flash to make StickDeath-style animations. In my teens I eventually learned that you could use ActionScript in Flash to create things programmatically, so together with experimentation with websites and HTML, I created a lot of random little animations and mini-sites. Again I hadn’t considered those “art” then, and I think it was because I never really got to connect with a community of practitioners around it.

When it came time to decide what to do in university, I ended up taking the pragmatic route of studying IT. I had already built a fascination around tech and the internet, but also because there wasn’t much of a ‘creative industry’ where I was. To not completely let go of my passion for creating visual things, I decided to major in Interactive Media. Throughout college I would work with friends doing freelance gigs for logo or website designs. My first ever job was as a graphic designer, but this was short-lived. I eventually got a job as an enterprise software developer and I continued along that path for a good decade or so, continuing to do freelance or personal side-projects for websites, apps, little creative endeavors along the way. Only thing was, as I progressed further in the corporate world, my time with creative side-projects got less and less, but as it turned out, since my field of work was in tech/R&D/innovation, my work would eventually bring me to blockchains, and subsequently NFTs. This was when I started to experiment with creating art as NFTs, discovering the field of generative art, and probably for the first time truly allowing myself to accept the identity of an “artist”.

When did you start making NFTs?

I minted my first NFT in February of 2021. Almost one year ago now!

“MAKE NOISE” by Yazid

What made you join FxHash?

I’ve always liked using all colors, muted and pastel mostly, but I’m also not afraid of dark and saturated for contrast. It all depends on the shapes and composition of the piece. I’m mostly influenced by simplified flat design, 60s graphic design but also generative art, op-art, minimalism art (from the same period), and also geometry, math visualizations, cartography and maps, vintage books with intricate schematics and graphs.  

It was so random, I somehow saw a tweet by Ciphrd in my timeline sometime late October or something like that mentioning what he was doing with a gen art platform and I hopped onto the Discord and shot over some questions. By that time there had already been quite a bit of chatter in the Twitter NFT community about building something like Art Blocks on Tezos that allowed for what’s come to be known as “long-form” generative art. It must’ve been only a few weeks prior to that when Geoff Stearns released his Hash Three Points project, which was essentially it’s own dedicated generative token, and almost like a successful proof of concept for Tezos. By the time fxhash was ready, it took me a couple of days to get around to having a project ready, and that was when I came up with ‘Hashed Arcs’, which ended up being project #44 on the platform.

Aside from the open platform and tech infrastructure that allowed for long-form generative projects, fxhash also had that community spirit where new and seasoned artists alike were encouraged to come in, experiment, and make art. A lot of similarities to early hic et nunc and the support towards interactive NFTs. I think if we were to look back in a couple of years, we will see that fxhash helped to establish the careers of many new and up-and-coming generative artists in this time.

“Ode to random #34” by Yazid

What do you love about generative art?

I’ll speak a bit of programming first, knowing that it is not synonymous with generative art. I was always attracted to the logic and efficiency of computers and programming. I discovered that my mind was built to think and function in that logical, analytical way. When I found an avenue to channel that ability in a way which also fulfilled me creatively, something just clicked. As a teenager I remember being fascinated by having the ability to ask a computer to do something, and it would do exactly what you told it to. Funnily what eventually made me love generative art was discovering the computer’s ability to do something surprising despite having been told what to do. That, and how it allows you to explore a larger search space through automation compared to what you would be able to do manually. Lastly, I love how it allows such rapid learning. There’s always something to pick up, and in generative art I’ve found a dramatic reduction of time between learning something and applying it, compared to most other things I’ve experienced, and that just taps into something intrinsic. It’s so far one of the best things I’ve found that powers this flywheel of learning and creating, and personal joy and fulfillment for me.

Who are some of your favorite generative artists?

I get a lot of inspiration from early computer artists, like Manfred Mohr, Michael Noll, Georg Nees, Vera Molnar. ‘Hashed Cities’ was actually heavily inspired by some of the work of computer artist Grace C. Hertlein. On the analog side, you almost can’t talk about generative art without mentioning Sol LeWitt, and his influence to my own art is quite apparent. Other than the conceptual aspect, LeWitt’s aesthetic appealed very much to what I already really liked as a graphic designer: minimalism, op art, traditional abstract art, Bauhaus, early graphic design/”swiss style”. Onto more recent generative artists, while there are some who have distinctive styles that I enjoy like p1xelfool or ixshells, there are also those that I feel who are able to mix the art and technical aspects of generative art very well – like Matt DesLaurier, DEAFBEEF. In general I just really like multidisciplinary practitioners, those who crosspollinate the best parts of different disciplines. Another artist that fits the bill is Eltono. I find how they work with both digital as well as large format physical installations very inspirational. That’s something I don’t really see very much.

“Outside your Window #8” by Yazid (sky color changes based on time of day)

What is your process of creating a generative piece?

I think I rarely ever set out to “create a generative piece”. I’m constantly doing random explorations, which end up less about the outcome but more about the process and the practice. I do have a few common “triggers” though, like tasking myself to recreate something beautiful I’ve seen in nature or in another piece of art. 90% of the time those things never see the light of day, but somewhere down the line, I might end up reusing some code that I created in the process which achieves some specific goal. These little pieces build up into a set of tools on my tool belt which I hope will serve to make me a more versatile artist. Something like Genuary (http://genuary.art) this past month has been really effective at spurring this kind of practice. You have some kind of prompt that gets you excited about trying something, you put your own spin on the interpretation, then you execute it and share. I believe all that knowledge and practice compounds eventually. I don’t have a particular system of cataloguing this knowledge or anything, but I trust that my subconscious will know what to do with it in the future.

Out of your first three pieces currently on FxHash (Hashed Cities, Lost Twins, and Hashed Arcs) do you have a personal favorite?

Hashed Cities has by far been the most well-received project. The reception still often blows my mind. However I’m personally quite fond of Hashed Arcs.

“Hashed Arcs #14” by Yazid

Have any individual mints stood out to you?

I have a thing for minimal mints. Something about having intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the piece as the creator and knowing that there are certain cases which are right on the absolute edges. In a project like Hashed Cities, the smallest number of buildings you could possibly get is two. I noticed a few Mondrian style mints with only a few buildings, and they all came out the same color. I kinda like those occurrences. But I think what makes me like Arcs more than Cities in some respects is the fact that despite that intimate knowledge, I still got surprised. In Arcs the smallest number of arc segments you can get is meant to be four. Yet you will see a few mints that appear to only have two. It seems impossible, but through a combination of a few other parameters in the space, like the arc width and the stroke gap, that in concert effectively made some arcs invisible. I think it’s really cool when things like that happen.

“Hashed Cities #7” by Yazid

What adds value to your art?

For a while I thought it was the heavy conceptual nature of some of my work and my tendency to build in elements of surprise into them. And while I think that’s still part of it (though I’ve become wary of setting too much expectations on the latter), there was another which I don’t think I was conscious of for the longest time. It only truly hit me when I received some unbelievably kind yet super simple words from fellow generative artist Iskra Velitchkova in a Twitter exchange with a third party. Someone had compared some outputs of Iskra’s to my work, and I replied by saying that Iskra’s ability to create generative art with finesse and delightful wispiness was in my opinion unmatched and incomparable. In response, she thanked me for my compliments and reciprocated the sentiment, mentioning my ability to “simplify complexity. So I think there’s that too. Maybe more obvious to an outsider, but it’s sometimes difficult to step back and be able to see something like that for me.

Is there anyone you’d want to shout out?

Everyone who has ever liked, commented, RT’d, asked/spoke about, helped with, showcased, or collected my art has done more than I expected when I started this exploration. I came in wanting to learn more about the tech, but I discovered much, much more about art and to some degree even about myself because of all these interactions. Thank you to every single one of you.

“Hashed Forms Tigris Moon” by Yazid

Anything else?

That’s it for now. Go back to creating. 😁

Leave a Reply