AMA with @takawo | 20/5/2022
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June 23rd, 2022
💡 This blog is a transcript of the Generativemasks AMA held on the 20th of May.If you would like to listen to the audio, please go check the link here! 

Welcome to our first AMA. We thought that as we launched our new roadmap and are doing the project reboot, AMA would be a great chance for everyone, especially for all the English speakers to get to know more about our artist takawo.

Self Introduction

Hi, my name is takawo and I’m a creative coder. I am a professor at Konan University, located in Hyogo, just right next to Osaka. My background is more in the photography and video area, and I started my creative coding in 2015 and have built up my career there ever since.

About #dailycoding

I’ve been doing this #dailycoding since 2019 where I uploaded my experimentations with the coding, and I’m doing this on a daily basis. This really became a part of who I am today and that’s led to the creation of the Generativemasks project. To add on, when I initially started out, my goal was actually coding for myself. but over time as I continuously uploaded my work on Twitter and other social media platforms with the hashtag “dailycoding”, I sort of connected some social aspects of it. While I was uploading them on a daily basis, I began to see a lot of feedback from others as well as some technical advice on what to do next. And I really feel that interactions with others have changed my coding output over time. When it started out, it was just a thing in my mind that I was doing for myself. But it changed over time, consciously otherwise into something that reflects my environment and influences from others online.

What I find interesting and fascinating about Gen Art

What I find most interesting and fascinating about gen art is that I am able to sort of talk and communicate with the computer. I love the way that computers and I have to be on the same page in order to achieve the desired result. So there is a lot of back and forth between the computer and me, how that changes the output. But there are lots of unexpected results from time to time, and I enjoy the entire process. That’s what I find fascinating about gen art.

When I do my dailycoding, it’s not quite animated or interactive. A lot of it is static composition, which is like graphic design that is connected to my background in photography. What I also found attractive about the NFT atmosphere regard to Generativemasks is the fact that I can turn the composition into a piece of data that you verify ownership, and the relationship between how Generative art is coded and how smart contract is deployed eventually is quite fascinating to me.

How I Got into the NFT Space

The reason why I got into the NFT space in the first place is that the news of Beeple as many of you know, he sells his art for 67 million back in March of 2021. It was my sort of intro to the world, it wasn't only the extremely high price, but also Beeple’s consistency that he maintained well making art every day. So I saw a connection there as I also do my daily coding activity. I quite feel relatable to Beeple in the sense that we both hone crafts. Then a short while later, I met Toshi, a team member of the Generativemasks project, while talking with him, we discussed how to take this forward and while making it sustainable with continuous activity, and also donating to a charity which was always something in my mind. Then, we started Generativemasks.

I also feel a great deal of the potential in the field moving forward with respective empowering artists giving them a sense of independence. And a lot of contemporary art could use that exposure to bigger audiences, so to speak. And perhaps for the next 10 years, I would like to focus more efforts on helping others in the Japanese region, as well as the greater Asia in general, gain the same exposure that I’m gaining so that we gen artists can achieve the same goal.

More About Tiny Sketches | #tinysketches

My Tiny Sketches exhibition, which was going on from May 13th to June 12th, at the NEORT gallery in Tokyo, it’s largely compartmentalized into 4 parts. So the first part is dailycoding works. I have about 1,500 pieces and out of that, I’ve curated 240 separate prints which are available for the exhibition. In the second compartment, as there are gladly many community artists and gen artists doing dailycoding, there are 16 pieces from their art. And you make tweets with the hashtag #dailycoding, we have a digital screen in the exhibition to show it. I think it’s very cool.

The third compartment is the Tiny Sketches series that I newly release, which is also put into 4 separate compartments of their own. They are “Blocks”, “Steps”, “Tiles”, and “Buildings”. And each compartment has 60 editions per, so the characteristic of these is that it’s the largely 3D composition which is different from my other works for example Generativemasks. The last one is that we have Generativemasks in the fold, the prototype of the 3D masks that I’ve been working on is also available to see in the exhibition.

There are 2 fronts that I challenged myself for the exhibitions, a technical front, and a composition front. From the technical perspective, as we have 240 prints, I’ve deployed 8 projectors and used the projector lighting to exhibit my compositions. What this achieved for me was to move away from how realistic something looks. I intentionally made them look someone like CG computer graphics, and in that sense, I found it quite cool that we could achieve some CGish from the projectors. From the composition perspective, by combining dailycoding, Tiny Sketches, and Generativemasks, three of my outputs categorically speaking having them rotate in and out feels like the composition that brings a lot to the internal atmosphere of the exhibition.

“Blocks”, “Steps”, “Tiles”, “Buildings”
“Blocks”, “Steps”, “Tiles”, “Buildings”

AMA

Dear Takawo-san, Could you please share your process of generating generative art? Do you sketch it before? BTW, I was busy at work and panicked at crypto drop, so I missed the Tiny Sketch drop this week, In case I win Tiny Sketch, I will send the minting value ETH back to that address.

I don't actually have a prior sketch on how to go from start to finish generating generative art. With my daily coding activity as an example, I usually have the program on for me to access at any given time while I see it on the computer. I feel like I am continuously doing it over the course of the day, then when the inspiration comes, I do it. So it seems sort of spontaneous just over the course of the entire day.

When are you satisfied with your final result? How do you view the process when the work is considered “finished”?

My daily coding activity, it’s more like a diary, so it’s up to me actually that given point and time. There are less of legit-like criteria by which I see something being completed. I sort of go with the flow, but when it comes to releasing more serious NFTs especially when they have a price, that’s going in the official portfolio, I am more conscious of the small details. After I've finished my initial coding, I check it on the desktop as well as mobile to see how they look both on multiple different devices, then I tweak it until I’m completely satisfied.

Do you have any plans to sell the prints exhibited at Tiny Sketches?

With the prints that were exhibited, a lot of them coming from my dailycoding diary, I never thought about putting a price on it and then having it sell as my official work, but I’ve considered making postcards out of the prints and having them sent to as a present or a souvenir. That is perhaps in the pipeline in the future.

What inspired you to start daily coding as an initiative? What lessons have you learned from doing daily coding that apply to other aspects of life?

To the first part of the question about starting dailycoding as an initiative, it was initially just my own enjoyment and then sort of blew it up in a minor way to include many other people all over the world. And the lesson that I’ve learned from daily coding is, as I touched on earlier, really become more me over the year, and involves a lot more people. I don't necessarily see myself having a computer science background perspective. I wanna approach it in a more human way, simply I just wanna spread the joy of experimenting with coding just like typical human beings who enjoy some hobbies and the freedom of the output.

What do you think is the future of generative art?

The future of gen art without a doubt established itself as a new art medium, and it’s already marked its place in history. I think it’s going to cement even further in the coming years. Regionally speaking in Japan and the greater Asia region, there still isn't much exposure and it’s still a niche field, so along with myself and others directly involved in the scene that dedicates their time to education, research, and growth of the community, both from the artists and the people who supported them. I really believe that it’s got a bright future in the short and long term.

When are you most excited during the coding process?

What I find most exciting and interesting is that there are 2 types. The first one is when what I imagine in my head is coming to life. That’s something quite satisfying and fulfilling because it’s a total effort between me and the code, the computer. On the flip side, there is the unintentional output. I would call it some of the happy accidents, so to speak, but I'm pleasantly surprised by it every time they happen. That’s another notable exciting moment and experience for coding.

What is the future of Generativemasks?

It’s quite open-ended because I also feel that I’m on this journey with you and the community. It’s a 10K collection and we now have an organization called the “Japan Generative Art Foundation”, so one of my goals is to move the collectible culture of gen art forward and help others out through it. In the long term, I have an ambitious goal to cement its place in the history books when discussing gen art. As for a concrete plan, it is quite open-ended. But we’re really excited to have you and everyone with us on the journey.

Hi Takawo-san, could you give a few NFT artist names that you think are currently underrated and look really promising?

There are a few Japanese artists that I personally feel are quite underrated. I can name them, for example, Okazz, Kusakari, Senbaku, Eiichi, and Reona. I hope you go take a look at their work. And I’m pretty sure that there are many more people who are underrated, but these Japanese artists are largely this way due to just lack of exposure and lack of connection to people outside of Japan. So as I touched on before, I would love to partially use the Generativemasks project and the vehicle to give some spotlights on those people because I really think that they are promising and have fantastic work.

<Artist’s Twitter Accounts>

“Okazz” / https://twitter.com/okazz_
“Kusakari” / https://twitter.com/kusakarism
“Senbaku” / https://twitter.com/senbaku
“Eiichi” / https://twitter.com/eikun_0903
“Reona” / https://twitter.com/reona396

Which mask is your favorite!?

It’s a difficult question, but on one hand, there are some really supportive community members who use Generativemasks as their profile pictures and sometimes have the mask number on their discord name as well, for those people I feel like I already associate them with the mask. We are not a PFP project but it has the same effect on me. On the flip side of that though, I don't particularly have a favorite mask because for some reason like “this one particular looks like a human face” or whatever the reason is. I’m really proud of all the different outputs that I’ve made, all 10K of them. I like them all! And I wanna thank all the people who are really supportive and actively using Generativemasks as a profile picture.

A year ago in May, you met Toshi, your meeting led to the creation of Generativemasks. In that process, what excited you the most, and what was the toughest thing that you had to overcome?

What I found most exciting in that process when launching the Generativemasks project was definitely the moment leading up to the mining out of the 10K collections. I went into the project without the expectation that would necessarily sell out, and when it did eventually and get close to selling out, I do recall a great sense of surprise and joy.

What I found quite difficult was sometime after selling out I got some attention and I struggled with how to respond and take all of it in. The differences between the public persona portrayed to the outside and what I really believed in as myself, the gap between the two was something I was struggling with, post mint. Now I’m totally fine and okay. But the difficult period was the time of momentary after minting out.

For the AMA, have you used art mediums other than generative art? When did your connection to Generative Art from? Who is your personal favorite Generative Artist?

From 2006 to 2012, I have had some creative outputs in photography and videography. There are some available for public view, you can check them out on our new official webpage. When I first got in touch with what generative art was in the first place, I recall that a lot of it was being used for a specific purpose, so they all have a sense of purpose to them whether it was animation or whatever to achieve the visual goals that a creator was trying to achieve, but I went on a slightly different route. I was inspired and was introduced to them via functional coding, and I wanted to take my own approach, the right call does not necessarily have the function or clear purpose to it. That’s how this whole journey started. And I really love generative art, and for the purpose of the AMA if I would just pick 1 or 2 of my favorite gen artists, it would be Zach Lieberman who I consider an OG in this field. I actually met him way back even before 2015, that’s one of the biggest influences from all the way back when I got some advice from him. I really encourage you to check out his amazing work. Another guy that I was inspired by was Lionel Radisson. So please check his Twitter account as well.

<Artist’s Twitter Accounts>

Zach Lieberman” / https://twitter.com/zachlieberman
Lionel Radisson” / https://twitter.com/MAKIO135

Can @neort_io explain their mission like I'm 5yo?

(Toshi)

NEORT is a digital art platform where takawo’s physical gallery with Tiny Sketches is exhibited in Tokyo, and they are always about giving voices to artists and helping them increase exposure. As art has attracted more attention in recent years, they have shifted to new viewing experiences like physically lending a platform to exhibit, not only hosting an exhibition but also finding a great way to do it. For example, as touched on by takawo earlier, using 8 projectors to give more CG fields that’s intentional viewing. They are trying to expand into the physical galleries in their own unique way. And Toshi is partially involved with NEORT as they’re one of the groups that takawo donated from the Generativemasks project.

In closing, it’s been a pretty wild journey up to this point with many trial and error, experimentations, and inspirations that we've gotten over the past year since launching the project. And moving forward and keeping in mind, things like how blockchain will involve and how it will increase its sphere of influence. I’m always thinking about our community and continuing my activity, but I can not do it all alone. So I would be genuinely glad if you and I could build the community together and support each other to move forward.

And thank you so much for all the continued support!

I’ll see you soon!

takawo’s solo exhibition “Tiny Sketches”
takawo’s solo exhibition “Tiny Sketches”

Generativemasks / https://generativemasks.io/
Official OpenSea Page / https://opensea.io/collection/generativemasks
Tiny Sketches / https://tinysketches.neort.io/
Official OpenSea Page / https://opensea.io/collection/tiny-sketches

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