Event Horizon is a collaborative work and the result of an exquisite corpse exercise. It comprises four digital images individually produced by Mark Dorf, Amir H. Fallah, Skye Nicolas, and Colette Robbins, all members of the NFT-focused artist collective Organic Material. Using the prompt “Event Horizon”, agreeing on a compositional template, and drawing inspiration from altarpieces, the images in this panoramic reflect each contributing artist’s unique aesthetic and conceptual interests while advancing the group’s collective mission to do things a bit differently on the blockchain.

One of the challenges of the nascent NFT market is avoiding assimilation into existing art and commerce infrastructures. Organic Material, named for the way the group naturally came together, aims to counter the forces driving it there through critical conversation, collaboration, and experimentation. They formed in December 2021 after jointly acknowledging the ambiguities and creative possibilities of cryptoart. A top priority for the group is finding ways to push NFTs in new directions by thinking through blockchain sensibilities so artworks communicate ideas that are uniquely translated, not merely represented, by this expressive medium.

Mark Dorf’s Refraction draws on his background in photography and interest in nature as a site of investigation to at once produce feelings of awe and anxiety as they relate to the alternation between clarity and interference of visual perceptibility. Here, the prismatic, refractive, light-bending surface of glass situated against a forest is a reminder of the always tethered connection between nature and technology. The image is intentionally wholly unresolvable, showing an isolated mechanism of the photographic apparatus, rendering it disruptive of technology’s utilitarian function. Viewers are reminded of the precarity of technology, our natural environment, and the ways in which environmental crises are sometimes visible and other times obscured from view.

Refraction, 2022

Skye Nicolas creates a darkly playful landscape of mixed emotions in Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Skies Are Blue. With its title referencing a hopeful song from the film The Wizard of Oz, this image’s glitch aesthetic generates both a visual and thematic tension between diversion and the limits of digital environments. The work appropriates an 8-bit video game called Pole Position, the Windows XP default wallpaper Bliss, and variations on the grinning face emoji. Together, in extreme glitched multitudes, they consider the artist’s early memories of technology and our collective experiences with information overload, tech company overreach, nostalgia, and the desire for escape.

Somewhere Over the rainbow, Skies Are Blue, 2022 
Amir H. Fallah’s preference for highly chromatic, saturated colors across analog painting and sculptural practice translates magnificently to the vibrancy of the digital medium. In Last Prayer, iconic symbols taken from high and low culture are harmoniously arranged by compositional symmetry and pattern but are disrupted by subtle contrasts in meaning, forms, and references. These elements come together to explore the collective impasse we face over various self-created crises and cultural narratives across the globe — immigration, diasporic identity, Eastern and Western art histories, nature, science, and popular culture — signaling a disconnect between human nature and resolution. 

Last Prayer, 2022

Visual perspectives appear to magically shift in Colette Robbins’ Home is the Edge of the World. Seemingly placed through and across frames of time, the work evokes an uncertain, ancient past. The central figures — two meticulously textured feet adorned with spiky sea urchin-like shapes — feel strangely human despite their stony, porous surfaces and detachment from the body. Using the language of sculpture, these digital feet occupy a weight, presence, and cultural significance, a certain monumentality imbuing an untold mythological narrative related to time and the traversal through geographic space that leads one home. Home remains unfixed, as polysemic as the reflective surfaces and repeated shapes in the image, and as elusive as the mythological place from which these feet originate.

Edge of the World, 2022

The group’s Oulipo-like decision to employ a few guiding, creative constraints to create Event Horizon results in subtle but similar responses to the prompt, all producing various uncertainties and slippages related to everyday experiences. These are marked by allusions to memory, geography, identity, the digital world, perception, and the blurred separation between the natural and technological. Equally important to Organic Material is slowing things down to counteract the exhaustive pace and frenzy surrounding NFT networking and promotion efforts. Event Horizon does this through its subtle animation, providing a rare instance of digital quietude and just enough movement to register lively activity. The result is a respite from the endless scroll of Twitter and a moving stillness that allows one to contemplate this timely and thoughtful work of collaboration and critique.