Introducing the Obscura Foundry Commission
Brileigh Hardcastle
Obscura DAO
March 18th, 2022

Obscura is the natural bridge between the traditional art making world and web3. It combines the idea of community, market, and artistic vision to produce NFTs that offer value to both the collector and the artist. - Alejandro Cartagena

Left to right: Fernando Gallegos, Claudia Pawlak, Mickey Smith.
Left to right: Fernando Gallegos, Claudia Pawlak, Mickey Smith.

Obscura is pleased to announce the first generation of the Foundry Commission. Five commissions have been awarded to emerging and mid-career artists working with photography. Over the course of four weeks, each artist is assisted through a mentorship program and curatorial partnership to develop a project. Each artist will produce a collection of twenty-five NFTs.

The five photographers selected for the first Foundry Commission are as follows:

  • Claudia Pawlak — In Translation
  • Gregory Eddi Jones — Hanami Blocks
  • Mickey Smith — Time & Again
  • Fernando Gallegos — Point of Entry
  • Josip Artuković — Tea Soaked Madeleines

Claudia Pawlak: In Translation

"In Translation" is a collaboration between artist and machine; A bringing-together of the past and future of photography and artistic practice. Drawing inspiration from the cyanotype work of Anna Atkins as well as artist Claire Silver, a machine-learning algorithm was trained to create a unique set of otherworldly botanicals, which were then printed as cyanotypes. The nature of the cyanotype as a direct imposition of object-to-paper, facilitated by sunlight, leads one to assume the existence of the object being recorded. Through digital intervention, the object is instead replaced with a facsimile - one which suggests existence, though it exists only in the print. Through minting the works as NFTs, the process comes full-circle: bringing that which was originally created in the digital world, back into it. Through an intersection of art, technology, and the historic photography process, these images provoke the viewer to question the authority of the image-document.

Claudia Pawlak, In Translation #1.
Claudia Pawlak, In Translation #1.

Gregory Eddi Jones: Hanami Blocks

“Hanami” is a Japanese phrase that refers to a gathering of friends and family around Sakura trees when they are in full bloom. This work superimposes the pursuit of bliss in nature with the consistent utopian promises offered by emergent technology. Via a production method of equal parts rules and chance, Hanami Blocks combines blockchain-native artistic conventions with experimental photographic and print-making practices.

Using stock photographs of cherry blossoms as source material, Hanami Blocks undergo both physical and digital editing processes to travel the source material into a virtually native form. Hanami Blocks strives for a screen-native form of artistic presentation, sharing properties of windows and frames emanating with inner glows, and assimilating the image and the media in which it is experienced into a single experience of coalescence.

The transformation from what are essentially nature photographs to virtual images mirrors human techno-historical trajectories in which we experience greater and greater layers of technological mediation that separate us from our origins.

Gregory Eddi Jones, Hanami Blocks, #21.
Gregory Eddi Jones, Hanami Blocks, #21.

Mickey Smith: TIME & AGAIN

The TIME & AGAIN collection explores the passage of time, grief and preservation of memory through the visual metaphor of the library.

As technology advances, each layer of our cultural memory becomes thinner, more temporal and difficult to recall. Print resources naturally recede as information is migrated online. Bound newspapers were discarded once scanned onto microfilm. The painstaking slowness and instability of microfilm led to its demise. What remains are visual clues and symbols which cue where we must START or END as we engage with something, or someone, no longer tangible. Edges of scanned books frame brightly  illuminated screens. Stains of deterioration scar pages where there is no longer paper. Evolving and devolving, the photographs created for this collection began with a body of print, were layered with the skin of the internet and are laid to rest on the blockchain.

Mickey Smith, TIME & AGAIN, #4.
Mickey Smith, TIME & AGAIN, #4.

Fernando Gallegos: POINT OF ENTRY

For a while I’ve been studying the language of the Latin American city through its urban awkwardness. A few months submerged in the NFT world have made me conscious of the apparent separation of both realities. In this work I look for the metaphorical fracture happening in the “real life” that makes the abstraction of the digital realm so appealing for some of us. These images, made late at night in the awkward metropolis of Monterrey, México, depict things and spaces in which there always seem to be something just beyond what's in front of us, as if we were at the edge of making a big discovery if we just took one step forward. As a group they create a landscape full of possibilities at the same time unsettling and exciting.

Fernando Gallegos, POINT OF ENTRY, #12.
Fernando Gallegos, POINT OF ENTRY, #12.

Josip Artuković: Tea Soaked Madeleines

In his novel Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel Proust defines the notion of involuntary memory by describing how remembrance deeply engraved in the past, evoked by the taste of a madeleine dipped in tea, occupies the narrator's present reality without his conscious effort. Referencing Proust's "episode of the madeleine" with its title, the project Tea Soaked Madeleines explores my family's emotional history in order to trace the line that threads our past and defines our present. As stimuli of involuntary memories, mundane objects acquire symbolic significance while serving as metaphorical representations of the structure of memory.

Josip Artuković, Tea Soaked Madeleines #25.
Josip Artuković, Tea Soaked Madeleines #25.

Generation Passes are now sold out to collectors in advance of the reveal, as part of Obscura's multi-tiered commissions available each season. These passes help fund the artists' production and execution of their project while guaranteeing five 1/1 NFTs per pass, providing a direct relationship between artists and collectors in the community. Co-founder Alejandro Cartagena says that "Obscura’s objective first and foremost is to enable the photographer to create new work, an opportunity long lost since the creation of the internet and the decline of printed media." By bridging the gap between the traditional art world and the emerging world of NFTs, Obscura continues to create new possibilities for photographers in web3.

To view all of the collections of Foundry Commissioned Artists visit:

Arweave TX
Ethereum Address
Content Digest