Bård Ionson’s new Async Art piece “The Gate” is one I could stare at and ponder all day, and I suspect one day people from all around the world will feel the same way in the virtual and physical museums of the future.
For me, I’m immediately deeply struck by the work — a slow-motion, 24-frame video animation running one frame per hour — because it has so many of the hallmarks of what I love in art: asymmetry, ingenuity, stunning colors, surreal abstractness, rich symbolism, and more.
Putting his signature AI skills to work using “hand-selected images of eastern and western toilets,” Ionson created sublimity in “The Gate” out of the most ordinary and lowliest of objects, the toilet. And this postmodern tension at the heart of the work is precisely what drives the magic of the animation’s vibrant visuals.
In the picture above, note the artwork’s first frame. I see the blazing makings of a gate’s frame suspended in the celestial, star-speckled blanket of space. Over the next 10 or so frames, the gate takes form and firms up as if made by long crystals of yellow topaz. The space around the threshold gives way to what looks like a misty wood, too.
Just like doorways in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the gate in Ionson’s work represents a spiritual entranceway as much as it does a physical one. It stands upright against mist, against empty space, against uncertainty. This gate leads to peace, it leads to self-contemplative relief, it offers a bastion against the mad world of dust and flesh. It’s not the gate between life and death, but rather the gate between life and human transcendence.
As the piece’s animation goes on the gate begins to steadily buckle from side to side like it’s earthquake-stricken, yet the structure holds strong and only sways. The misty wood shifts into cracked dirt and the gate shifts into an orderly web of vines.
From here the piece shifts back toward its original appearance, but while the work started out with its gate being unformed, its final frame shows a fully actualized gate that’s standing radiantly, even defiantly, before a surreal mixture of space and the misty wood. The structure has transcended and continues to offer a path to peace, like art itself does.
In “The Gate,” then, I think Ionson created a deep and meaningful work that viewers will keep returning to for years to come. The interpretation I laid out above was from me subjectively grappling with the work, but the piece is so open both visually and symbolically that 100 different viewers will have 100 different interpretations. That bodes well for the timelessness of this creation, which is among Ionson’s finest pieces yet and has a chance of becoming a signature AI artwork to posterity.
Inside the Artist
Bård Ionson is an artist who in recent years has been trailblazing around the rising cryptoart scene. His signature works have been exhibited and sold at events like CADAF Digital Art Week 2020 and have become increasingly sought by collectors on NFT platforms like Async Art and SuperRare.
To learn more about Ionson, be sure to check out my recently published profile of the artist and his portfolio through the links below.
Async Art: async.art/u/bardionson/collection