In the early 1980s, Brendan Dawes’s grandfather gave him a tiny computer. While he couldn’t do much on it compared to today’s advanced computers, “it forced me to learn how to code and program to make it do something”, Dawes recalls. “I was fascinated; I could type words into this black box and have it make things.” He first used his newfound coding powers for evil rather than good, in the form of a prank. He went into a branch of electronics store Dixon’s, where they had several ZX81 computers each joined up to a TV, and quickly reprogrammed each one to infinitely repeat “Dixons is sh*t” across the screen. “I guess that moment taught me how powerful code could be.”
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Thus began the much sought-after digital artist’s passion for technology and design. Dawes first started creating NFTs in June 2020; when he uploaded his first piece, passionate NFT collector WhaleShark snapped it up within the hour. “Brendan is one of my favourite artists in the [NFT] space,” said WhaleShark on an episode of Tatler TV: Meta Versed, Tatler’s live-streamed series on all things metaverse. The collector, who has amassed a staggering collection of more than 400,000 NFTs, describes Dawes as a “force of nature” because of his alluring, colourful aesthetic and his ability to capture our digital interactions. In particular, the artist accomplishes this by building algorithms that visualise data created during everyday life.
This is especially apparent in the artist’s 60 Minutes on the Ethereum Blockchain (2022), a work he created in collaboration with WhaleShark for the aforementioned episode of Meta Versed. Each of the flowing, vibrantly coloured strands in the work represents one of the hourly 46,196 transactions that took place on the Ethereum blockchain at the time the piece was created. Symbolising real-time transactions in the form of both jpegs and videos, the work captures the fluidity and growth of the blockchain and documents a specific moment, which in turn reflects our accelerating digital activity. “This is how we live our lives now: we live in a digital world where things are changing constantly,” Dawes tells Tatler over video chat. “Everything we do is digital; contemporary art should reflect how we live.”
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