Hackatao’s Hack of a Bear — The Digital is Life.

Hack of a Bear by Hackatao on SuperRare:

While Bears are in charge of the crypto coin market, the NFT Art market is going bullish.

After a successful auction with Beeple Christie’s, an elite, traditional-conservative auction house has fully validated NFT digital art as “ART”, not just a sweeping anomalistic trend bound to disappear.

Hackatao is a crypto OG artist duo group that explores nature, environmental issues, cryptocurrency, and other societal issues and topics. Their name derives from two words — “Hack” and “Tao”. To hack as in solving a problem at hand with technology and creativity and “Tao” as in the “Way of TAO” — always seeking a balance between the two opposing forces of life such as yin and yang.

Christie’s had commissioned Hackatao to bring the head of the bear into life as the 3D graphic video art of the bear roars and disappears and appears again like waves on the shore. The head of the bear was released on SuperRare for a bid, as Christie’s auctioned off the original drawing of Bear’s Head by Leonardo Da Vinci for 12M dollars.

Initially, I thought this whole thing was merely a marketing scheme. Christie’s had tasted the sweetness & the hype that the NFT market brings — making them relevant to a new, younger generation of collectors — and now they just want to connect with NFTs and NFT artists whenever they can. Yet as my research on Hackatao progressed, the more I was persuaded that this “marketing scheme” was more of sponsorship of Christie’s in Hackatao & Leonardo’s collaboration transcending time.

Da Vinci is known not only for his artistic talent but his use of art as means to understand and “hack” the mechanism of nature and then use that knowledge to create inventions that were cutting edge at the time. If Da Vinci was alive today, he would have certainly been an NFT artist, if not the one to invent NFT. Hackatao also hacked their way into technology — they read an article on blockchain in “Le Science” magazine and were immediately inspired to delve deeply into the tech, as they saw the potential of this technology solving the problem of authenticity validation and transactional issues in the art market. This was back in 2018 when there was no such concept of NFTs or NFT art.

Specially commissioned as an AR project, which connects the “real” and the “virtual”, Hackatao’s Hack of a Bear connects “the traditional” and “the revolutionary”, “the analog” and “the digital”. It is ironic because as much as a masterful sketcher like Da Vinci’s physical hands majestically drew the head of a bear, Hackatao’s rendering of the bear done by digital tools is much more life-like. As a person who always believed that the development of technology makes us less “human” and brings us further apart from real life, this work of art by Hackatao inspired me to re-think my default belief. Maybe, the digital is not only a tool to serve the physical life — digital may very well be the life itself. Just like God gave the breath of life to Adam, Hackatao did so to the Head of a Bear. And in this sense, digital technology or any technology for that matter could be a truly living, organic being.

The artwork of Hackatao drawn on to the bear’s skin which appears after it had a wave of real-life-looking fur on its head also symbolizes that this evolution in art, especially the digital art with the concept of NFT is part of the circle of life.

The artwork has many symbolic images such as Podmork (a signature character of Hackatao) version of Leonardo’s Vitruvian man, messages like ‘Perspective Change’ and ‘Everyone can see but only one owns’ or a straightforward word like ‘ART’ is declaring that this — this era of the digital NFT art is now the part of the natural evolution process of not only art but also nature. Like yin and yang, the concept of “technology” and “nature” or “digital” and “life” always seemed to be at the other end of the spectrum. But are they really? Aren’t they meant to blend in together as one — just like how the yin and yang symbol is intertwined with one another?

Change is frightening. It is anxiety-inducing. It means that we need to adapt and change as fast as the change itself or lag, deteriorate, and decease. At least I was afraid of how fast things are changing all the time! It seemed like the fast evolution in tech space was a threat to my physical life and I was quite often forced to learn about/keep up with these changes, rather than greeting them with gratitude. After watching the work of Hackatao over and over again, as if I am staring at waves coming and disappearing on the shore, I felt a certain sense of peace and acceptance. The digital is not something that serves, augments life. It certainly isn’t a threat either. The digital is, and always was one with life.

NFT Art Critic. Seoul&NY