In the Chinese language, the pronunciation of the number 8, “ba,” is very similar to that of the word prosper, “fa,” making the number 8 the most auspicious of all the numbers.
For the Genesis 8 series, we asked our 8 artists to express what Gold Dust is for them through the filter of their artistic vision, style, and techniques. For some, it evokes nostalgia and remembrance. For others, it’s the primal spark of creation and nature.
For us, Gold Dust is something very special. Every object, and by extension every person, possesses inherent worth as well as the innate potential to metamorphose into something far greater than its present state.
“Some years ago at an auction of Old World artifacts, I witnessed the sale of empty canvas sacks selling solely by weight. It baffled me that anyone would pay substantial sums for empty bags hundreds of years old and I inquired further. I then discovered these nondescript canvas sacks had once been used to transport immense quantities of gold. While the sacks were now empty significant quantities of gold dust still remained, filling the crevices and folds in the cloth. By practical alchemy, this precious residue had transformed otherwise mundane objects into coveted pieces of considerable worth,” Mint Gold Dust Founder, Kelly LeValley Hunt.
Mint Gold Dust is a place, somewhere in the universe, where all creators find a home and a chance to perpetuate their legacy. Everyone has their Gold Dust, everyone carries an aura of magic, and you are part of that yourself.
Bard Ionson, Mysterious Value
Ionson’s piece Mysterious Value was created by training an AI model to create its own version of a Challenge Coin. In the US, these coins are given out as a reward for working on special projects or being top performers and have taken on a life of their own as collector's items. The coins themselves held no material value, but the riches and mysticism lie in the stories they tell.
Mysterious Value is one possible output from millions of different versions that was created. This particular coin appears abstract in composition, like a dream or a memory — a contrast to the physical coins that use American iconographies such as the US Flag or the Bald Eagle.
Just like a treasury would have minted these coins, Bard Ionson has poetically minted them on chain. This process was Inonson’s way of taking a forgotten piece of metal and giving it a second life.
Ben Snell, Ritual Nature
Ben Snell is a creative force whose works explore the meeting ground of technology and humanity while revealing the act of the creation as much as the production of the actual piece itself.
Snell’s Ritual Nature intertwines the observer and the observed. The piece uses a sculptural interpretation of image-making that strips away the light and color of a photograph, leaving something raw and wild in its place. He was inspired by the ephemerality of digital artifacts as defined by code and how that contrasted with the beauty of an object’s physicality and natural decay.
With a newfound aura, Ritual Nature revels in the inherent value and humanity of digitally scarce objects, yet paradoxically consists of dispensable elements. The work exists not as a copy or a symbol of the physical, but as an entirely new object. While it’s reminiscent of the tangible world in form and substance, it speaks for itself with its own unique integrity and presence.
Snell writes, “Like a swirling cloud of gold dust suspended in moments of shimmering clarity, the piece points to our entropy, once stardust and soon to be…Following a year of trauma and despair, the process of going into nature in order to find my nature is an act of self-care in nurturing my creative flame — a metaphorical minting of my inner gold dust, ready to shine again.”
Lily Honglei, The Butterfly Lovers
Artist duo Lily and Honglei present The Butterfly Lovers, a painting series and animation that depicts the complex cultural identity of Asian American immigrants pursuing the “American Dream.” In this piece, Lily and Honglei symbolically highlight the dichotomy of having dignity and pride of their heritage while also experiencing the profound loneliness and isolation that comes with deep seated prejudices against the Asian American community.
“As part of this marginal group, we have witnessed many tragic life and death stories of our friends who pursue American dreams. They have been struggling to be accepted and adapt to the new society tainted with prejudices against immigrants and minorities. The Butterfly Lovers symbolically reflects these spiritual struggles, cultural identity dilemmas, as well as resiliency in the Asian American community.” — Lily and Honglei
In Hackatao’s creation process, the stream of consciousness takes the shape of a stream of drawings. In the perpetuous and unstoppable flux of drawings that come to life from the unconscious, our inner demons and unspoken thoughts come to visit us and manifest in the form of art. In this artwork, the artists duo Hackatao goes even further, beyond the stream of visual manifestations, until reaching the matter itself.
Before being guided by the hand of the artist and being shaped by the thought process, before being imprisoned in the wood of the pencil, graphite exists in its nebulous dimension. In this work by Hackatao graphite doesn’t follow the lines, it escapes the artistic gesture and it’s floating free through rebellious tectonic movements.
Giant Swan, Metamorphosis
Giant Swan’s creative process really is a dance, the artist guides the brush with his body movements, accompanied by his biggest influencer that would always impact how he makes art in VR: music. Giant Swan’s latest work, Metamorphosis, is a personal reflection on the powerful relationship between hurt and transformation.
“In a moment of growth, I watched you sit and birth the most beautiful of spirits, It was you and your hope.
In a moment of hurt, you were so still and alone, I watched your spirit try, again and again, your hurt was stretching glass, these beings were you, they were tears and they were your fear, they comforted you and then quickly flee, their time seemed short and would illuminate around you, I think I was in awe.
But your spirit is a loop, It reaches out from a garden into the wood where it burns out into ash and wind. At the center of this herd is you, so full of love and care, so much more distant than I remember.
This loop is a cocoon look out at you from the center of this garden and I wake up before anything emerges.” — Giant Swan
Gisel Florez, Space in Touch
Gisel Florez began her artistic journey through the lens of a camera. Eventually, her lifelong pursuit in the development of her own unique visual language and her love of light play led her naturally to the vast potential in the digital art world.
Her piece Space in Touch was inspired by analyzing physical responses associated to interacting within an exponentially digitized life & economy. This piece references the energetic response to a physical touch. A moment where gravitational forces are felt & can commune with self. This connection highlights one’s own humanity; an activation of center; an energy seldom experienced within digitized representations. Florez comments this, “Visual language is directional, radiating out to all who resonate; permeating the subconscious and readily available to sense the nuances of emotion it sparks within.”
Lapin Mignon, Anatomie D’Une Poussière d’Or (Gold Dust Anatomy)
Lapin Mignon is known for her deeply personal and mesmerizing artworks. Her piece Anatomie D’Une Poussière d’Or (Gold Dust Anatomy) began in a meditative state thinking about what gold dust might mean to her. From that, flashes of abstract shapes, color, and 80s inspired motifs began coming to mind. When it came to creating the piece, Mignon prepped the canvas with splashes of color using watercolor paints. Then Mignon found their narrative by putting pen to paper and creating abstract shapes. To finish it off, the piece was splattered with gold paint in a way that was reminiscent of light summer rain after a storm. Mignon’s emotional carefree approach to this piece brought energy and life to the canvas, showcasing what gold dust means to her.
MUEO, Transformation at the gates of eternity
MUEO’s Transformation at the gates of eternity expresses a duality between denotative and connotative messages to create a sense of tension.
The image is a visually captivating, deconstruction of Baroque architecture. Re-investigating Baroque style through a NeoBaroque lens, the artist has animated ornamental forms to complement the architectural backdrop. Experimental architectural forms were created in a way that was impossible when Baroque and Rococo flourished. The artist is using an animated form of expression to enhance their original vision.
The central figures are a pair of humans wrapped in a struggle.
On the surface, it is a colourful and visually playful panoply that pleases the eye using iridescence and gloss, but under the sheen is a message that reaches into dark mythology to ask questions about fate, struggle, and responsibility.
The connotative image represents the abduction of the goddess Persephone by Hades at the gateway to the underworld. The central figures are a digital representation of the sculpture ‘Ratto di Proserpina’, masterfully carved by Bernini.. It depicts Hades abducting Persephone, his brute strength overpowering hers as she fights to escape him.
The sculpture can be interpreted as a transformational story for Persephone, who goes on to marry Hades and become the Queen of the Underworld. Despite being dominated and carried away against her will, she is the hero of this story in a monomythic sense. Prior to her abduction, she lived an idyllic life. But after Hades spotted her picking flowers one day, she was pulled from a life without responsibilities, forced to marry and given a position of power. The reluctance to leave a life of ease and meet a destiny of responsibility is a theme frequently explored in coming-of-age ceremonies. That Persephone faced her hero’s journey reluctantly exemplifies the universal transformational experience that brings a person out of innocence and into adulthood.
The majestic scene surrounding the figures is both an architectural deconstruction and abstraction of the gates to the underworld. It is a hypnotic portal to an unknown spirit world that Persephone is bracing herself against. The viewer knows she will ultimately be pulled through, and the artwork attempts to evoke Persephone’s and the viewers’ feelings about this unwelcome and difficult transformation.
Coming back to the point of the connotative and denotative discord, the bombastic visual spectacle and the troubled inner meaning create a sense of tension. From a denotative perspective, the piece is glossy and beautiful to look at, while from a connotative perspective, the artwork shows an intense moment of struggle and transformation of incomparable magnitude.