Leander Herzog Interview

“Vert Large Array #7” by Leander Herzog

Who are you?

Leander Herzog, visual artist and webdeveloper, based in St.Gallen, Switzerland. I make images with code. Generative art, interactive websites, animation, audio and whatever the medium enables.

When did you start making art?

2006 as a student. First with flash, then processing and vvvv. As monetizing digital art was difficult, I spent a decade working on websites. Recently I returned to making art with new focus, thanks to nfts and also disillusion with the advertising-, design- and tech industry.

“93e94d456959” by Leander Herzog

When did you first start making art on Tezos?

March 12, 2021. It was “93e94d456959”.

Why do you make art?

It is the most meaningful, entertaining and challenging thing to do, right now. I love art and spend a lot of time looking at art, it would feel weird to only consume and observe.

“ic-28154fac-389e-45df-aeb5-c9d7da671c95” by Leander Herzog

What would you call your style

I don’t know. I admire artists who have a very consistent and recognizable style. That’s a huge advantage for a personal brand, which is a thing now for better or worse. I do have some colors and preferences that I reuse, but I also make pretty varied work with different styles. So I struggle to label it. Someone said my style is very “op-art”, which is probably not wrong – but that’s more a natural consequence of the medium than my intention. I guess I should come up with a cool name for my style! One reason I started working with computational methods, is to go beyond just one style. That is useful for finding new directions as well as cultivating plausible deniability. Platform risk is real, but it’s also risky to get too attached to one style.

“Returns” was your Genesis mint on Fxhash. It is perfectly minimal yet so much variety between mints. What was the story with this work?

It’s based on “Shipping” from 2016 and is inspired by Anne Truitt, Ugo Rondinone, Imi Knoebel, Kelly Ellsworth and many others.

“Returns #241” by Leander Herzog

Returns is a an optimized version of this. I tried to align the expectations on fxhash with my own. Every mint is a different image, but it also changes over time and is interactive too, so it’s more than only one single unique image. It has these three different temporal dimensions I’m trying to design. My hope is that it works for “the fxhash experience” comparing previews on the page, but also standalone, on the screen of a collector, on a wall or in a Livingroom. I know that it did work in some cases, but I also know that many people who collected one did not notice that it is interactive, or that it changes slowly over time. I’m used to curating any output of a generative system. That’s what I did with the Alp series on objkt.com, where I manually selected 150 outputs.

With fxhash, I struggled with the idea of giving up too much control and curation. Returns is a milestone for me, as I managed to overcome that fear.

Very large array was your follow up work. What inspired it and did you have any roadblocks while creating it?

I always wanted to create visuals and audio too. But making music with code is not exactly easy and I am not a musician either. Like, not at all. So where do you even start… I explored the idea of using the same data structure that is behind the visuals to also generate audio. With some tweaks and data bending, I managed to make it happen.

“Very Large Array” by Leander Herzog

The data is based on geometry and some pretty simple rules, but the outputs create interesting patterns that change over time and keep surprising me. The audio is not mixed or mastered properly, it is very raw. Sometimes too loud, sometimes not even audible and totally unpredictable on different sound systems. Some people almost got their ears or speakers blown, while others did not even realize it has audio. That was tricky to test and explore, but multiple collectors said they were showing the work at parties, one of the best possible outcomes.

What do you hope for the future of fxhash?

It will be interesting to see what happens with the token and the community. I’m sure it will be better than hDAO and I hope that there is a type of governance that works for us. I hope that the amazing team behind fxhash will keep at it and that it survives the next winter. Another thing I hope for is that we move things forward when it comes to curating, showing and sharing art. At the moment there is too much focus on what is mostly grids of thumbnails and numbers. There is more to cultural production than creation and ownership. I am totally not sure if fxhash should be more than the platform and marketplace it is right now. But I think it could, I hope it will.

“Agglo” is your most recent work on FxHash and is incredibly unique. What gave you the idea for this work?

I was inspired by the possibility to make work that is interactive, but also extends beyond just a fixed canvas. Something closer to a document than a canvas, between 2d pattern and text. I think it is also inspired by the work of Andreas Gysin and Kjetil Golid. That is something I only realized after the drop, but their work has been a massive influence. I caught myself staring at it many times, switching between just enjoying the visual sensation and trying to understand what exactly is actually going on there. Exploring patterns and repetition is so fundamental, it just happens with most computational strategies; with Agglo I focused on just this.

“Agglo” by Leander Herzog

I also like to embrace the responsiveness of webbased art, in this case by using only four unicode characters. Usually a redraw is needed when the size of the canvas changes. But because text is responsive by default, it simply reflows, without the need to do anything. I try to embrace this loss of control, it allows for so many different rhythms to emerge – which is more interesting to me than adding complexity explicitly by writing more code.

If “Returns” was about accepting a new level of loss of control, “Agglo” was about making this new freedom work for me instead of fighting it.

What did you hope to accomplish with “Agglo”?

Other than embedding the potential for endless variation in a fun interaction… The idea is built around a very simple principle. It was easy to code, but the result is not something you would immediately read as “my” style. That is not what I was after, but still a win for me. Because it makes it harder to put me in a bucket and it protects me from narrow expectations. I feel like sticking to a specific style or technique is great to build a brand right now, but also very risky in the long run.

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