Jeres Interview

“cliques #10” by Jeres

Who are you?

Oh god… no idea. I’m not trying to be deflective… I think about identity a lot, actually, to a fault, probably.

A month or so ago I drafted this annoyingly long twitter thread about how I decided that I was going to be nothing, and how that effectively lets me do anything. Don’t box myself in, blah blah blah. It’s probably because I’m halfway through the epic collection of dialogues with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj called I Am That. The tl;dr is that we were never born and we will never die because we are not the body nor the mind, that personality is an obstacle and desire is the cause of all suffering. Or something.

What does this have to do with who I am? To me, identifying a certain way or wanting to be exactly something can only cause pain when you think you failed at being that or others don’t recognize you at being that certain thing.

So, fuck it. I’m nothing.

Anyways, after drafting this ridiculous thread I threw it away because I remembered Pak’s bio is: “The Nothing” and the last thing I wanted to put out there was something that sounded like I was just overly pontificating on his succinct statement. What would that do to my ego and my desire to be taken seriously? Pain, probably. Suffering, surely. The Pak excuse is just that, an excuse… it should never have been tweeted anyways, it was insufferable.

This is a little bit tongue in cheek, but mostly not. I don’t know who to say I am, and frankly, don’t want to commit to being anything. For the context of this though, I’m someone who’s making generative art.

Or maybe you just were looking for a name, in that case: jeres, a thinly veiled alias. 50% chance I dox myself this summer.

When did you start making generative art?

A few months before I discovered FXHash, I started playing with p5js. I had left a job in tech a couple months after kind of burning out and needed to be working on something, anything. I’d worked in web2 startups as a iOS product developer/designer for, um.., let’s say a while, but really since anyone was able to, which was over a decade at that point. Yikes.

“night fall moon #8” by Jeres

After a month of laying on the couch taking museum doses of psilocybin, trying to figure out how to stay out of tech entirely and realizing that being a food blogger wasn’t probably sustainable, I started looking at NFTs after a friend explained Loot to me. In that exploration I obviously stumbled across Ringers and Fidenza and was like… is this an option? It seemed to be. Anybody could try to be anything in web3. I’m not comparing my work to those projects, but they were an early inspiration for sure.

I never really thought I would actually release anything but after years of coding and being a perfectionist about getting the details right in apps (or at least how I liked them), it scratched a lot of itches. I needed to be doing something and the tools were familiar, albeit utilized differently.

I think I stumbled across FXHash last October or November, I forget exactly. Immediately, upon discovery, I thought, “I don’t know what, but I’m releasing something here. I love it.” I honestly didn’t think anyone would care, but when sinuosity minted out, I almost cried. Maybe I did a little. I don’t recall. Emotions were felt.

“sinuosity #15” by Jeres

What would you call your distinct style?

Stream of Aesthetics? Hmmm.. that’s more process, naming the style is harder. I’ve never thought about labeling it. Some things are a little conceptual, but I think it would be stretch to apply it to all of it. Maybe psychedelic-deco-pixel-mash-future-retroism. Or, maybe we should just reduce that to Post-Pop Dystopian Nostalgia.

Tell us more about your latest piece “Attachment”?

Attachment is kind of a return to form, where I’m trying to echo some of the simplicity of sinuosity or cliques but with a more nuanced style reflecting how I’ve evolved as an artist. I wanted to create a project with a lot of diversity, but still cohesive as a collection, which I’m hoping reflects that idea that relational attachment can take a lot of forms, even if serving the same purpose.

It also shares some strands of DNA with Entanglement where a some of the plot points used before, are now reinterpreted into connections/joints, instead of tangles. The joke in my head is that “entanglement can lead to attachment”, but mostly, I wanted to evolve the theme of how we interact as elements in a relationship. This loose obsession with relationship/interaction has come up with a number of pieces, whether it be our relationship with ourselves, social groups, the world at large or an event, like the pandemic.

“Attachment” by Jeres

Attachment is a bit of a distillation of those relationships as an abstract representation to how we approach connection in general (and the safety of those connections). Are we anxious? avoidant? triggered? secure? evasive? The way the the traits are represented in the art hopefully reflects something parallel to how they may make us feel/act, but sometimes they are just reflect a stylistic element of the particular piece.

I’m really excited about this collection and hope it resonates with people. It’s also the first time I’ve used title case for the collection name instead of all lowercase. I’m not sure if that means anything, but it feels like a new chapter.

“Sinuosity” was your Genesis work and focuses on curves. What was your goal with this work?

It was my first project and I didn’t have a concept in mind, unlike vapour trails or night fall moon where I knew what kind of scene I was working towards, even if the end result evolved (and hopefully furthered) the picture I had in mind when I started with it.

For sinuosity, my initial goal was to create something from bezier curves that I could look at and not hate after some amount of time… even 5 minutes was a challenge at first; I was still learning.

This isn’t to say that sinuosity didn’t have a conceptual goal by the end of it. I got to a place with it where I was staring at render after render, and I accomplished my initial goal of not hating how it looked, but I was getting frustrated that it didn’t mean anything… or I couldn’t apply any metaphor to it to latch onto.

“sinuosity #250” by Jeres

For whatever reason, I started thinking about relationships, trauma, our lives, and how we interact with other people or societal systems at large and it clicked that I wanted to make this about the chaos that we all intersect with, in our different ways. So, I anchored all the curves to the center and defined that as the You. The lines became the issues, thoughts, complexes, relationships or whatever was happening in life that demands attention or affects how we process. Sometimes it’s more chaotic than others and each of us exist in a different space, literally and figuratively.. but we all are handling whatever is in front of us in the context of what is around us. We try to, at least. Well, some people try.

That concept resonated with me and seemed like a good place to start, and it fit for where I was at: trying to figure out the next phase of my life. I was processing where I was at, and where to go. (And trying to be flexible with that, which is the definition of sinuosity.)

That said, I don’t think art always needs a point, or narrative… but for me, at that moment, I needed to be able to apply some context to this so-called “genesis” work, and it felt fitting to be exactly the moment I was in, which is literally context. Maybe it was a bit on the nose.

“Pneumas” is your take on a pfp collection. What inspired you to create this?

“pneumas #4” by Jeres

Jellyfish. I started thinking about tentacles and thought it would be fun to try and create something a little less abstract and a little more figurative, even if just as an exercise.

I was playing with the algorithm for how the tentacles extended from the body of the jellyfish (which was about to become a head) when a random tweak to the magic numbers caused the tentacles to bend hard halfway through and I was immediately like, “Those are shoulders, this is a pfp collection now. Goodbye, jellyfish.”

I reshaped the body into a head and started adding features to the face. I really liked the idea of ourselves as these vulnerable creatures (which we are) trying to stay safe in a pandemic (which we were). I kept the tentacles as veins/muscles for an exposed, skinless body. I felt it reflected a bit of the fear of exposure that I felt I had internalized in the past couple years. I liked that these humanoids were masked, even if those masks didn’t directly reflect the kinds of masks we were required to wear and more like retro WWII gas masks. N95s would have felt a little obvious for my taste. And boring.

So, yeah, it started as being inspired by beautiful sea creatures and ended with being inspired by a global tragedy and the effect it had on a mass psyche for a population that was starting to feel more and more alien to me, due to my dedication to reclusion. Which, as an aside, was also the inspiration for the name of the music project I started during lockdown: new recluse.

“pneumas” by Jeres

How do you choose your color palettes?

I started working only in monochrome, which is probably obvious from my first few collections. I love monochrome art but I’m a little obsessed with color and pull palettes from a number of places. Sometimes I scroll through palette sites looking for combos I like, usually mixing and matching to my taste, but sometimes there’s something specific I’m looking for, a good example being a palette I’ve used a lot called “Bug”, I pulled all the colors from the image of an insect.

Pantone is great source for color inspiration as well, obviously.

“biome patches #10” by Jeres

For biome patches, I knew I wanted the palettes to reflect the five major biomes, so they are sampled from a bunch of landscape photographs of those biomes.

And, hmmmm.. I guess I’ll just confess that my pastel palette was sampled from Doodles, yes, the pfp collection. What can I say, they nailed it. It’s a perfect pastel palette and I love how inclusive that made their collection feel.

Biome patches is colorful and feels natural despite it being made from code. Was there anything you had to learn while making this piece?

I was trying to make something that felt a little more connected to the natural world as most of my work up until that point had a certain coldness to it, so I’m glad you feel its connection to the natural world. The collection right before it, weep, felt a little warmer, to me, but I wanted to evoke more of comforting response, the way looking at a beautiful view in nature can make you feel. I didn’t want to make a landscape, and was thinking about crop circles, fields, gardens (hanging or otherwise), as well, for inspiration. Less from the natural world, the “monolith” shape trait was inspired by Kubrick’s monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

“biome patches #18” by Jeres

So, in terms of learning, I definitely researched the biomes a bit to make sure I got the palettes right, but in terms of coding, it was mostly a refinement of some techniques I’d developed along the way.

The main thing I learned was: restraint. I think biome patches works for me because ultimately, it’s really minimal, but still organic feeling. So learning to balance that and also not to muddy up the composition with unnecessary elements was crucial. There were only a few basic shapes, but it still communicated what I felt it needed to: The occasional peaceful serenity of nature.

Do any of your FxHash mints have a special place in your heart?

cliques and vapour trails, for sure, but all of them in some way.

cliques just really resonates with my design sensibility and I like the visual metaphor of relationships. it feels like data and art, to me at least.

“cliques #218” by Jeres

vapour trails is inspired by one of my favorite songs and how that song makes me feel. Everyone reading this should listen to Ride’s Vapour Trail, right now. Shoegaze is one of my favorite genres, and whenever I hear the guitar sound in the intro of this song I just know the satisfaction of the drums kicking in is coming soon. It never gets old for me.

“vapour trails #110” by Jeres

Why do you make generative art?

Ultimately, because I like making it. It had been a long time since I had worked on purely visual things. I’d been a developer for years, but before that I was in bands and was often responsible for creating the album art, handling photography and whatever else, like flyers or posters. It felt like I a backlog of creative energy to work through, and now I had found something to help with that.

I also like the sense of flow creating it gives me. Like lots of folks, I deal with anxiety or other mental, um, distractions or chatter, for lack of a better term. Working on art, or coding in general is way to escape from that and have uninterrupted focus on something. Creating generative art lets me enter a more meditative flow state, which is relaxing, even though its work. There’s a great book, called Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, about just this. I read it years ago and am probably due for a reread.

“Places we should go together” is one of your latest works, creating faux maps of imaginary places. What’s the story behind this work?

Simply, I think the pandemic-induced-recluse in me is dying and my wanderlust is coming back. I really enjoyed the isolation aspect of the pandemic, being able to lockdown and nest; it reduced my social anxiety by removing the need for social participation. Astrologically, I’m a double Cancer with Taurus rising, and us crabs love to hole up in our spaces, but that was/is getting old and I really miss exploring new places and traveling with people I love. I need to fly over an ocean again, soon. I feel like this is probably pretty universal so I decided to make a little map collection to acknowledge that, like a postcard from where we would rather be.

“places we should go together” by Jeres

What do you have planned going forward?

As mentioned earlier, I have a new collection dropping on May 15th, called Attachment. I’m sure I’ll be starting on another project soon.

Also, I might start working on some other projects that I’ve been wanting to get more serious about. Some are extensions of CC0 projects I’m inspired by, like Nouns, and others are more pure tech + community focused, something more akin to a platform, like FXHash, but not directly related to generative art in the same way. Still too early to reveal much, but I’m really excited about switching things up again, even if just for a bit.

Is there anyone you want to shoutout?

All my friends, for their encouragement and not rolling their eyes at me. Danielle King, for being lovely, supportive and fun to interact with on Twitter, Artnome for discovering and tweeting about biome patches, which was a big break for me (as well as a big surprise out of nowhere.) and for being just a delightful spirit guide in this odd NFT art world, Matt Perkins, aka nudoru, for having a copy of The K&D Sessions, as well as being a great artist. A big shout to WillPop and Trinity who publish Waiting to be Signed, the fxhash podcast, for not crucifying me for having botched a few drops and for talking about my work at all. I’m grateful and flattered. Also, my cats, Ruth and Gerarda, who kept me sane the past couple of years. And finally, ciphrd for creating this lovely platform call FXHash that we all adore and has changed a lot of lives, mine included.

“antigen #6” by Jeres

Anything else?

Apologies for the psuedo-philosophical rant I started with, identity triggers me. Also, apologies for my love of the run-on sentence.

You can find me on twitter as @heyjeres.


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