Exclusive: A Deep Dive into Wildxyz’s First Group Exhibition “MATERIAL”

BY Arthur Parkhouse

October 18, 2023

Wildxyz‘s first-ever group exhibition, “MATERIAL,” will begin with a presale on Oct. 30 and a public mint on Oct. 31, exploring the creative crossroads where abstract conceptualizations meet digital artistry.

To gain a deeper understanding of the exhibition’s concept, process, and meaning for the Web3 art space and beyond, we spoke with Wild’s Founder and CEO, Douglass, and each participating artist.

Concept and Early Inspiration

As viewers will only see the final product, we dove into the project’s conceptualization and what early insights, inspirations, or experiences led to it becoming what it is now.

“We are living in a time where data, algorithms, and generative processes are becoming significant aspects of artistic mediums,” said Douglass. “This transformation in the art-making process inspired us at Wild to create a digital exhibition in tandem with our artists that highlights how different source materials are used. Seeing the way our artists leverage both sources and novel techniques to produce striking outcomes got us thinking even more about the topic of materials and sources– something we also hear a lot about today in the broader cultural discourse.”

Douglass further expressed that due to this approach, participating artists, Figure31, Jeffrey Scudder, and Sten, have transformed wide-ranging elements into art pieces of “exceptional depth, quality, and meaning.”

As for the early stages of “MATERIAL,” he indicated that it all began in an abstract form, with the original goal being to curate a digital exhibition with a group of artists from Wild’s residency program, but over time, after engaging with a range of artists and understanding their process, it grew to reflect a more concise direction.

Speaking to the broader goals the platform hopes to achieve through the group show, he shared that “MATERIAL” aligns with Wild’s overarching mission of “celebrating art and creativity in the digital age.”

Considering Wild representing a destination for experimental art, he explained, “We want to empower our artists with the tools to grow and the space to be creative. Our mission is to bring their visions to life, introduce their art to a wider audience, and highlight its importance in contemporary culture.”


Sharing more on the curation process and how each of the participating artists were selected, Douglass explained, “Figure31 and Jeffrey Scudder were early members of the Wild Residency, and each released very successful, sold-out collections on Wild, LUX, and Freaky Flowers, respectively,” adding, “Sten was a more recent graduate of our Residency program.”

He highlighted how the selected artists combine established and emerging talent, with the show leaning into the similarities and differences between them.

Notably, each of the participating artists is known to use generative and algorithmic processes in their respective practices; sharing why this was important, Douglass explained, “All three artists challenged conventional notions of creation, allowing for dynamic artworks that evolve, react, and engage in ways previously unimaginable.”

Furthermore, he shared that these processes become the “material” for the artists’ works and underscore the exhibition’s exploration of the evolving nature of artistic mediums in the digital era.

Douglass shared how different aspects of the works resonated explicitly with him: “These works are, quite simply, stunning.”

“Finally, I’d be remiss not to highlight the people behind these works – the brilliant artists – who I’ve had the privilege of getting to know and learn from,” he said, adding, “They have the X factor – hustle and heart – and I have full confidence their star will continue to grow and shine even brighter.”

The Medium

On the matter of the shift from traditional artistic mediums to data as a substrate for creative expression, Douglass said, “I believe this is reflective of the world we live in – and an attractive opportunity for artists, creators, inventors to broaden the aperture of what’s possible to create.”

Diving deeper into the subject, Douglass expressed that generative and algorithmic techniques, as represented in “MATERIAL,” could further the traditional artist-audience relationship and create deeper connections through engagement points that aren’t often possible outside of digital art.

“We believe these works demonstrate the importance of experiential digital work – and their existence as tokenized art that is experienced digitally makes that engagement even deeper,” he said.

Douglass highlighted Jeffrey Scudder’s “hell_world” as an example, explaining that the art a collector purchases contains a playback for each step of the creation process, enabling them to participate in the work in a sense.

“In a world where so much of our time digitally is spent passively, we’re optimistic about the ability of digital creations to enable more avenues for active participation in creative practices.”


Talking specifically to tokenization’s significance and how it influences the way art is valued and collected, Douglas shared, “For us, the tokenization is critical to the originality and provenance of the works.”

Douglass emphasized that veteran collectors and newcomers alike should understand what they own and know where it comes from to uphold the work’s history and integrity.

The Message

With a key underlying theme of “MATERIAL” being the questioning and exploration of “neutrality and originality on the net,” Douglass shared that what excites him the most is how each artist drew on decidedly distinctive source material.

He shared that the sources range from a niche literary reference to the UN Portrait Library color palettes and, from there, to a self-created computing system — resulting in a wide range of inputs to inform the outputs.

“Where some might draw the overly dystopian conclusion that anything and everything is mined as training data, we believe the artist’s selection of source material carries a new weight; it allows us to consider the ideas of originality, neutrality, and subjectivity in a new light.”


With various underlying themes, from the politicization of data collection to concepts of neutrality, we asked Wild what message they hope is achieved due to “MATERIAL.”

Douglass expressed that art, in general, has a profound ability to spark meaningful discourse and that Wild aims to nurture this aspect.

“As our artists will tell you, we don’t believe it’s our role to draw a particular conclusion or decide what’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ but rather, offer fresh perspectives for the viewer,” Douglass shared, further expressing, “I think it’s impossible to exist in a digital landscape without considering topics like the ones you highlighted – and I’m excited to see how the community draws their own conclusion and interpretation and the deeper conversations these artworks might inspire.”

To further understand “MATERIAL” — its concept and message, we spoke with each artist about their specific works that make up the group show.

Figure31’s “PROXY”

Sharing more on the inspiration behind “PROXY,” particularly his decision to use UN Security Council portraits, Figure31 said, “I discovered the UN Photo Library a year or two ago, long before the current geopolitical events took place. It’s an archive of internet imagery that documents one of the world’s most influential diplomatic institutions.”

He added, “Looking at an international political body is always relevant, but even more so in moments of crisis when we start to be more attentive to how our world is governed and what we can do to participate in that governance.”

The artist further explained that “The source material for the entire collection is structured around the UN Organizational Chart, from which I based my selection of portraits from the leading individuals across each department, offices, country representatives, and the accompanying colorways included in each image to create entirely abstract outputs.”

Photo by Katie Sikora
Photo by Katie Sikora

Figure31 explains that he approaches his works as an outside observer and is not meant to present any specific political opinions but knows imagery and “understands its importance in shaping narratives and public perception.

“When looking at the history of portraiture, early on, it was mostly influential individuals who were documented in this form. To be the subject of a portrait often meant you were part of an elite society,” he added, “Artists have always played an integral role in shaping the public perception of these individuals and how they were remembered. There are notorious examples of court painters scheming their way into influential circles.”

Walking us through the process of transforming archival portraits into abstract digital artworks, Figure31 shared, “The first step was to map out the administrative structure of the UN. I then identified the specific portraits to work with. The next step involved creating hundreds of grids from sampling the colorways that accompanied each image.”

He explained, “From there, I submit these grids to different automated resizing operations, repeating them tens or even hundreds of times to obtain the desired textures. Throughout that process, information is added, lost, corrupted, and transformed, so the source material is forever altered.”

Providing more on the process, Figure31 shared that he will generally repeat the automated process manually to enhance it by stretching the images irregularly. Additionally, the artist told us that he’s working with different “interpolation algorithms to obtain textures and artifacts that are usually associated with bad image compression, shifting between these algorithms and using the wrong ones for different resampling actions.”

He added, “At the end, I manually balance the tones, saturation, and luminosity,” explaining, “This is usually where the image might undergo drastic changes. It feels more like I’m ‘shaping’ the forms of the image than adjusting it. It’s a sort of exchange between image and intuition. I’m trying to balance the results to obtain beauty and express the natural qualities of the color space I’m working in. The resulting color fields are a stark juxtaposition of the source imagery.”

Speaking to the group aspect of “MATERIAL,” Figure31 shared, “When you put your work alongside others, you start to notice new interpretations, maybe cracks or openings in your arguments and perspective,” adding, “It opens up interpretative avenues and reminds us that we don’t work in a vacuum. Others might address similar ideas in totally different ways.”

Leaning into perspective a bit more, we asked Figure31 how “PROXY” reflects the intended neutrality of the United Nations or, instead, how it communicates or critiques the idea of neutrality in global diplomacy.

“I’d be very careful speaking about neutrality. I don’t think I’m neutral at all or capable of being neutral,” he shared, explaining, “Neutrality is an idea. It’s impossible to attain it via representation.”

He added, “Even standard official portraits are not neutral; they have unique characteristics that reveal specific ideas about how individuals choose to represent themselves. My interpretation of the color palettes is very subjective. I’m adjusting colors and processes to fit my desired guidelines and outcomes.”

“One thing I am sure of, is that my interpretation of the source isn’t neutral, I’m creating a visual object that wants to provoke an emotional reaction within the viewer. I want this viewer to consider how these global leaders shape their own personas. I want to reveal the emotional effect behind their public perception.”


Additionally, we asked Figure31 how he sees PROXY engaging with or contributing to the Web3 community and the broader discourse around decentralization.

Observing how PROXY might be engaged with or in some way contribute to the Web3 community and the broader discourse around decentralization, the artist shared, “The UN is a good example of an attempt at decentralized governance; it’s a subject for me to reflect on, compare, and insert myself into,” adding, “I’m looking at this global governance system for similarities in what I’m experiencing locally.”

Admitting that he’s not sure of the legal IP guidelines for the UN Photo Library, he did share that it is available to anyone to explore and that, to him, it draws parallels with the transparency of the blockchain and, more specifically, how he’s experienced the technology.

“That being said, they don’t invite the general public to directly participate in governance like some protocols are doing on the blockchain,” the artist shared, adding, “It’s the difference between the perception of openness and that which is actually open source.”

“I’m not analyzing or incorporating the political careers of the individuals featured in the portraits I sampled, but I wonder if there’s still a lingering, discernable presence felt in the outputs,” he said. “The way I see it, I’ve totally deviated from the original images. I’ve taken some source material and explored a direction that is in discontinuity with its original intentions.”

The artist put forth a rhetorical question: “Isn’t that what decentralization allows?” — underscoring an open invitation to build upon an open-source foundation and make it your own.

“I’m aestheticizing something that wasn’t meant to be aestheticized. My process is highly subjective, and you could potentially ask if the source material even matters since I’m not aiming for exactitude. I don’t have an answer to that question, but that question is the precise theme of ‘MATERIAL,'” he shared.

Jeffrey Scudder’s hell_ world

When speaking with Scudder, we asked him to share more with us on the conceptual underpinnings of hell_ world and how the title and accompanying works reflect the themes of “MATERIAL.”

“I grew up using Kid Pix, which is very cute software, but I also loved playing Quake, which has a different aesthetic despite being constrained to a similar graphical resolution,” he shared, adding, “These paintings are an exploration of the mixing of these aesthetics in that resolution range.”

The artist explained, “They are made in a self-designed software environment that borrows the idea of generative brushes from Kid Pix and the instant console from Quake. The materials for the works are my commands, some of which are ‘rect,’ ‘line,’ ‘smear,’ and ‘shape,’ and my manual gestural input.”

He shared, “I started writing aesthetic computer in 2021. It’s my solution for a new generation of creators who need speed and freedom from the tools they use.”

Scudder explained, “Its functionality draws from my ten years of experience as an educator, painter, and programmer, in addition to my last three years as a TikTok content creator. A large part of my coding time this year went to accessible 2D painting tools and getting the software ready for the general user, which can be really stressful and feel like ‘hell.'”

Scudder added, “It’s a tradition in computer programming to write a baby program called ‘hello world’ when first learning a language,” he further explained, “I view the aesthetic computer as a language and the opening to general users as its form of ‘hello world.'”

“I like a synthesis of the technical and gestural. With ‘hell_ world,’ I’d like to open up a conversation about the relationship between painting and programming, which is illustrated by the playback mechanism of each piece,” Scudder shared, adding, “They’re all constructed with a series of commands.”

Sten’s “Little Lyell Machines”

Finally, Sten dove into her work, “Litte Lyell Machines,” with a specific interest in her fascination with the 19th-century mining boom in Tasmania and how it blossomed into the concept for “Little Lyell Machines.”

“I have a personal obsession with this story and with the small town embedded in very dense wilderness. But really it’s a very common globally ubiquitous history of mining towns; every country has them – discovery, boom, decline,” Sten explained, adding, “I wanted to make an artwork that was really a system for holding fragments of a story. In this case, that system is visualized as remnants hidden in a quite beautiful field of rubble.”


“This is a book from an era when archive information is presented so dryly and chronologically that it’s easy to forget it’s by an author with bias. A cascade of archival material,” she explained, adding, “Here I imagine it as fragments of discarded machines and labels, untethered from their past use and meaning. It’s also not lost on me that these same intentions for recording, labeling, and securing artifacts underpin web3 philosophies and on-chain work.”

One aspect of Sten’s collection includes an interactive element where viewers can zoom into sequenced catalogs of the above-mentioned fragments; we asked her how this level of interaction enhances or alters the viewer’s experience of the historical narrative, if at all.

“It’s like a microfiche or a View-Master – old machines that are still in use – that compress information into tiny squares,” she shared, adding, “The viewer clicks ‘next’ ‘next’ ‘next’ to see small parts of a bigger reel.”

A Contribution

Douglass hopes “MATERIAL” will contribute to the discourse around digital art and what impact he anticipates it might have on artists, collectors, and the broader digital art ecosystem.

He shared, “Our goal is to continually elevate the great works being created by the artists we believe are pushing the boundaries, and pushing us all forward as a result,” adding, “Our hope with “MATERIAL,” and future exhibitions, is to uplift further and highlight incredibly high-quality works, and connect collectors with opportunities to engage more deeply with the subject matters, ideas, and concepts these artists are exploring.”

Sharing a hint at what’s to come, Douglass said, “Furthermore, we’re introducing our ‘Slate’ as a new purchasing method,” adding, “This will offer a piece from each collection at a fixed price. We hope that by offering purchasing models like this, we make it easier for people to access and experience digital art.”

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