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Pie Keys and Passport Books: A Fun Conversation with Jared Madere
NCO 029
2023-04-07
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by
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Jared Madere is a contemporary artist whose work blurs the boundaries between digital and physical media. In this interview, he discusses his unique approach to art and his experiences in the Web3 space as co-founder of Galerie Yeche Lange. While his work is steeped in abstract themes such as cultural legibility and the value of art, Madere approaches them with a playful and experimental attitude. He talks about the ways in which his practice has been influenced by the hyper-fast pace of web3, as well as the possibilities for collaboration and genuine discourse that it offers.

N: Hi Jared, how are you and what are you working on these days?

J: Good, thank you! Currently, I'm putting the final polish on a collection I’ve been working on together with Wretched Wurm called Wanderlust Girls that drops next week. It's formatted around the idea of passport books that hold tokens tethered to locations the girls have visited rather than passport stamps. Has been a lot of fun building out the custom models we used to generate aspects of the collection which involved training on datasets of different eras of street style photography, jewelry campaigns, and distributions of acne (off-the-shelf diffusion models struggle to hit the sort of compression artifacts you get from cell phone photography + anything shy of hyper smooth DSLR skin).

N: I want to focus on your presence in the Web3 space as co-founder of Galerie Yeche Lange. Let's go back to the start, what was your first encounter with this community and what "sold" you on the idea of conflating art with blockchain technology?

J: I’ve always been hung up on this idea of taking the ideas and lenses typically relegated to the traditional art world and redistributing them—but I think the interesting thing about that is when it happens in the real world it usually waters-down the original concept in a borderline perverse (not bad, just maybe warped) way. I’m thinking about something like Miami Basel, what Kanye did for people’s comprehension of modernism, or what the birth of Instagram did to the meaning of Margiela or Comme Des Garcon, etc. If you can see a season of matching beige SKIMS yoga pants and tops on an intuitive level you don’t need to wrestle with minimalism or anything similar, it’s been digested and it’s in everyone now.

I always loved how nuanced you could be within art but didn’t like how contextually siloed it was on multiple fronts. But in a really simple way, you can’t bring a painting on a road trip in a meaningful way but you can do that with a song, and you can share a song with so many more people at a different rate and different place in their lives.

With NFTs, you can start to approach that type of place in people’s lives. Everyone knows what I’m talking about who has one—everyone who's ever had the conversation with someone who’s never done it where they go ‘I just don’t get it- how could it be satisfying “owning” a little jpeg on a screen’.

But there’s something that really makes a chime in you when you see that little thing shimmering in your wallet and the way this non-object is tethered to all these really passionate people.

My friend Ian Stanton invited me to do an NFT project at the beginning of 2021 that we spent nine months developing through many different conceptions of what the project really was and through that, I got exposed to a number of telegram groups, etc. and started to interact with these various communities and found this all really thrilling because of how deep everyone’s engagement is. I think one of the most compelling things about being involved with anything web3 is how incredibly enthusiastic and thrilled everyone is to collaborate.

I’ve never encountered an arena where people are so generous and eager to share but it’s also beautiful because it all stems from a genuine voracious excitement—all flavors of discourse feel so fast here when you step outside sometimes it feels agonizingly static.

Also politically and ideologically, the emphasis on trustless systems and very serious conversations surrounding decentralization and the future of institutions, the dismantling of so many traditional world institutions—in traditional art, there are often these very nuanced and engaged political conversations taking place but because of where the art world actually sits in the world—these conversations largely remain representational, illustrative of a socio/political/economic scenario or commentary at best.

In web3, you are actually engaging with people who are playing with the fabric of the highways that everything actually runs on so there is the opportunity to be involved much more directly in terms of conceiving of policy and embodying what you imagine a template for right action looks like.

N: I think the main difference between the traditional art world and the NFT space is that the latter is much more honest about the idea of art having "utility"... whether it's business or social connections, investment or tax purposes... you name it... how does the concept of "utility" inform your artistic practice and the strategies at Galerie Yeche Lange?

J: I think fashion is an interesting example because it’s a bit like soft-utility~ meaning you buy the shirt, it’s never so literal as "you own this shirt so you can enter this room", but there’s a slightly more vaporous social currency around it where someone might recognize the origin of the shirt you’re wearing and treat you a certain way OR you may delight in the silky springy way it bounces on your chest hair all day.

I think for us coming out at the beginning we were very focused on this Art first ethos and we were more interested in this sort of soft utility in terms of the art itself- the utility of the poem= you get to wake up and think about the poem every day… because the poem is fabulous and profound and it enriches your life to contemplate it….because you’re an adult and you don’t need it to come with a happy meal toy to enjoy it…… BUT…. the casino is also a very beautiful place and this is a very fun thing to play with too so it becomes this very fun additive game of…. if you stack this gold horn thing inside the ruby couplet stack that with the ratcheting hook all that kind of logic of appending accessories to make mega accessories- now we are in a place we can all enjoy. So, I think our approach is something like this…. let the art speak for itself… but display the art in a palace where you can stack upgrades and high jump boots and rings that when you stack 10 of them in a row and it makes everything you eat for two hours taste like scorched cherries. This has been our approach with the Pie Keys that we released as our first project but in the coming months this will become clearer as new pie keys debut that endow their holders with minting privileges but also environmental privileges within the virtual gallery.

N: The NFT boom in 2021 was characterized by a strong sentiment of artist empowerment and liberation. At the same time, digital marketplaces had no qualms about promising "lifelong" utilities from the artists involved, having to provide a constant flow of additional experiences and perks to the owners of their NFT. I thought it was interesting how nobody was questioning the idea of somehow "enslaving" artists to their community of supporters. The situation was even more absurd when you think that currently we lack the legalities to enforce most of these "obligations". What are your thoughts on that?

J: Yes, similarly to what I said above- I think for any of this to work long term the store of value has to honestly reside within the value of the art itself. If something is profound that profundity is going to enrich the lives of everyone who comes in contact with it across millennia or at least as long as it is culturally legible/mis-interpretable in an interesting way.

A mint pass, a token tethered to governance privileges or any of these things are cute little keychains to attach to the side of something but ultimately art that sustains value will do so because the experience of engaging with that art brings genuine value to its viewers. The other utilities and little bonus privileges that give access to temporary clubs that exist for one or two lifetimes are cute, which is beautiful. A marriage might be more significant than an ice cream but both are cute and pleasant and very important. The little club goodies are more ice cream but the core media itself has the potential to affect people much more deeply along a much larger time scale. Maybe a bad metaphor though because when art slaps with that profundity it’s not rare for that to feel like the same kind of fleeting sting you get from good ice cream.

So like…the sting of the ice cream unfolding along the timeline and depth of a marriage. Maybe this is where we want to be.

N: How is post-web3 Jared different from pre-web3 Jared? Has the spirit of web3 found its way into your life and the way you navigate the art world?

J: My expectations for discourse are a little different in that everything in web3 has such ultra massive implications if followed to their conclusion and gets to the jugular of so many very tingly points in a very palpable way- meaning the social/spiritual/political dimensions of the world are all so directly pricked by the forces in web3 compared to an arena like trad art where the evolution of discourse is much slower and a bit perpetually kept in this neutered space of being limited to illustrative conjecture since it has no real way to engage with infrastructure in a genuine way. Beyond that I’d say something in the way collaboration is approached. Trad art is notoriously allergic to collaboration even down to the level of an artist’s output where collaborative artwork is discouraged because of its lopsided market performance (how do you reconcile the pricing of a work co-authored by one commercial mega-earner and another collaborator who quits the game after a few years). Even amongst trad galleries the space available for collaboration, there just are not that many places you can go other than swapping galleries in different cities for a month or pooling collector bases by sharing a booth at an art fair. In web3 everyone is extremely excited to build things together and get into these very nuanced conversations on what could exist so it’s just a much more effervescent energy. If I open a physical gallery and need to run plumbing and electrical, I’m not having a meaningful conversation with the person who came up with the fluorescent tubes or pipe cuffs- but because of where we are at with the infancy of web3 doing a gallery here might mean you actually have relationships with the people who have built various protocols you’re interacting with etc. and everyone is constantly looking at how they and plug each other’s endeavors.

All images courtesy of Jared Madere.
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