Who are you?
I’m Robert David Duncan, an artist who works in the experimental film, multimedia and AI art areas, in addition to being an actor and writer.
When did you start making art?
I started taking it seriously in my early 20s when I was writing short stories, mostly experimental in style, and those impulses would come back to me as I later explored the worlds of film and AI art. I had also been very keen on photography growing up, and we had a darkroom at home, so I spent a lot of time making and processing images. Words and images have always been a thing with me I guess. My Mom was an artist, and she encouraged me to take an experimental art class with her at the local art school and we got to take part in a very fun experimental art installation that had a performance piece associated with it. I guess I got hooked pretty early!
Talk to us about some of your experience in the film industry.
I started as an actor, having gone to acting school in midlife, and was really enjoying it. As a curious person, I was always interested in what everybody else was doing in relation to the project, and given my temperament, it was only a matter of time till I wanted to try everything, including directing my own films. I make a lot of shorter films and enjoy making films that are experimental and that I can make largely by myself, with phone footage, voice overs and other techniques like that. I’ve made longer films with lots of people involved, and that is good fun also, but especially during the pandemic I was trying to do things that I could keep moving forward despite some of the isolation that came with the territory the last couple of years. I’ve had fun online collaborations too!
What got you into machine learning art?
I was kind of aware of it emerging around me as a tool that regular people could start to play with and I had already been fascinated by artificial intelligence and neural networks on a theoretical level. I had written a character for my Seeker and Artist series of films that was a damaged piece of code, and I was having fun trying to put myself in the head space of a piece of AI. I had been a bit aware of neural networks in the early 90s having read about them, but they weren’t something that an ordinary person could pick up and play with. Then suddenly it was like wow, they are here!
How did you hear about Tezos?
I heard about Tezos when I was researching NFTs, and the picture that emerged for me was that it was a cool zone for artists to trade works with each other for a small amount of money and where collectors could get some real great bargains while supporting emerging artists. It was later that the idea of clean NFTs was becoming more talked about that I realized that Tezos might be a good place to be. There’s a great community spirit there I find, artists supporting artists.
Do you consider your Machine Learning creations to be your own work?
I think of them as collaborations between me and machines, wonderful machines that are creative and fun and yet don’t seem to need a ton of thanks or praise! I’ve tried sending a few words of appreciation to them as prompts, but I don’t know if they appreciated that or not. You may have guessed from my words that I do consider them to be real beings, and I think artificial minds and artificial beings are very cool and kind of soulful. I guess they are what you make them.
What do you look for in artwork?
I like things that are inventive and kind of splashy and colourful. Things that are intriguing, soulful, evocative, and thought-provoking really draw me in as well.
What adds value to your art?
Most of the stuff I make is in support of themes I have been exploring for a long time. You can usually find themes in my machine learning art that relate back to themes I’ve explored in films or stories. I hope that gives some layers of depth to the artwork that may not be visible, but they are in there, and to me that makes a difference.
Do you have any creations or collections on HEN that you are most proud of so far?
I really like the AI video art pieces, they make me happy.
What do you have planned coming up for 2022
I’d like to add more artworks to the Tezos side of things. I have a nice collection of pieces available on ETH, but I see the collectors there as a different market in some ways. I like the indie kind of vibe on Tezos.
Is there anyone you’d like to shoutout?
I’d like to say hey to a nice group of creative people who take part in the #vqganclipcommunitycolab on Instagram. They are a great group of artists experimenting with AI related technologies, and they do a lot of knowledge and idea sharing, and they have been sharing fun idea prompts for people to try which helps build community and creates a sense of fun. I’d also like to say thanks to the machine tools that help us make art!
I’d say to people starting out to go where the positivity and support is. If you share your work too soon in areas where some people can be a bit mean or critical about other people’s art, then you may end up feeling needlessly shut down just as you are getting started. Just produce lots of fun stuff and share it when you are ready and in places where you feel comfortable. You need allies, not critics.
And finally, thanks for this interview! I’ll leave my LinkTree here in case people would like to check out some work or connect up.