“Wonder in the Woods” bridges the world of physical and digital art
Local photographer Raj Manickam presents one of the Valley’s first hybrid physical and digital art exhibits at the Vail Public Library this month.
Manickam’s collection, titled “Wonder in the Woods,” includes nine canvas prints that are on display in the library and for sale in physical form, but this is only one method of acquiring the pieces. Each photo has also been minted as a non-fungible token and includes a scannable QR code that will allow viewers to purchase a unique digital copy of the artwork from the OpenSea Marketplace.
Manickam said he sees selling art on the blockchain as the next area of opportunity for local artists. Instead of being confined to physically restricted markets, like the Valley, his work can reach out and find meaning with art lovers around the world.
“Going forward, these digital assets will be a way to recognize art,” Manickam said. “I don’t want to be left out because of my own curiosity, and if it’s there and if it’s something I can learn and try to figure out, I want to embrace things that make sense. And that makes sense now for people who are artists.
Manickam also views the minting of his coins as a means of preserving them. He noted that local artists historically do not have the privilege of having their work preserved in perpetuity, like that of more famous names, and many pieces end up being forgotten and lost over time. By minting his favorite works as NFTs, he can preserve the integrity of the coin well beyond the life of a physical copy.
“Generations to come will remember that you made this work of art, and whether it’s printed and hung up, it’s still a number on the blockchain forever,” Manickam said. “One day, my best photos, whether I sell them or not, will be an asset that I can pass on to my daughter, and she will have my digital wallet with my assets. She can sell it, she can cherish it, whatever she wants to do.
This particular photo series he’s piloting as a hybrid launch is made up of nine shots of local trees, mostly aspens, in which Manickam uses intentional camera movement and slow shutter speeds to create a blurry effect that looks more like a painting than a photograph. All of the photos are taken in Eagle County, and Manickam said his intention was to emphasize the vibrant colors that surround us in the valley.
“I call it a study of color in nature,” Manickam said. “I visualize, I notice that I can see the sky behind these trees, so when I do my intentional camera movement with a slow shutter, there will be blues. Dogwood, at its peak of bloom, the leaves will take on a color magenta. So I could say, wow, this is going to be really nice, because the colors are all going to pop.
Looking at the resulting images, it’s hard to believe that these are photographs taken directly from our natural surroundings instead of the imaginative colorings of an abstract painter. Brilliant fuschias, shimmering golds, deep blues and vibrant greens surround recognizable aspen trunks like brushstrokes, and reveal a new perspective on the incredible beauty that surrounds us in the mountains.
All photographs are unique non-fungible tokens, which means that there is only one copy that exists on the blockchain and buyers become the sole owner of this digital asset. Manickam is also showcasing his signature work, “Juniper’s Last Gasp,” with a QR code giving access to his non-fungible token, one of 100, a cheaper purchase that Manickam hopes will allow the piece’s message to have a wider dissemination. reach.
A wall in the Vail Public Library exhibition is also used to sell and display a collection of Manickam’s photographs from Sri Lanka. A severe debt crisis in the country has raised concerns of widespread starvation, and Manickam is donating 50% of sales proceeds from his Sri Lankan series to support the nonprofit Subramuniya Kottam, which distributes tapioca sticks and millet plants to farmers and home gardeners. for sustenance.
For more information about the photographer and the photo series, visit AllInGoodLight.com. “Wonder in the Woods” will be on display at the Vail Public Library by the end of August.