Bright Moments on Prioritizing the Personal

As Bright Moments concludes its three-year global tour at the 2024 Venice Biennale, they release the ambitious Finale Collection, showcasing the works of over sixty artists on a single contract. Peter Bauman (Monk Antony) engaged with the Bright Moments team and participating artists, delving into the project's key themes and the organization's future. The discussion included Seth Goldstein, Phil Mohun and Samer Dabra (Spongenuity) from Bright Moments, together with artist and Art Blocks Founder Erick Calderon (Snowfro), as well as artists Maya Man, Anna Carreras and Piter Pasma.
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Michael Kozlowski, Finale Collection Test, 2024. Courtesy of the artist

Bright Moments on Prioritizing the Personal

As Bright Moments concludes its three-year global tour at the 2024 Venice Biennale, they release the ambitious Finale Collection, showcasing the works of over sixty artists on a single contract. Peter Bauman (Monk Antony) engaged with the Bright Moments team and participating artists, delving into the project's key themes and the organization's future. The discussion included Seth Goldstein, Phil Mohun and Samer Dabra (Spongenuity) from Bright Moments, together with artist and Art Blocks Founder Erick Calderon (Snowfro), as well as artists Maya Man, Anna Carreras and Piter Pasma.

“A community may begin as an online gathering, but in order to truly flourish it will have to strike roots in the offline world too.”

-Yuval Harari in 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018)

We live in a post-community society. We have the latest iPhones and Discord channels but our human technology remains ancient, rooted in the stone-age animal hardwiring that thrives from close personal connections in intimate groups. The fragmented online communities we crafted remain vital but can lead to alienation without the genuine interaction we require. Bright Moments prioritizes this human element of the digital, capturing three years of community with the Finale Collection.

The Finale Collection also extends a long line of bold group projects reminiscent of Lucy Lippard and Seth Sieglaub’s 1960s book projects, in which artists contributed single-page entries to form a whole book, seeking to bypass the museum structure. The Finale Project—featuring over sixty artists—is a museum itself in one piece, carrying on the tradition of Lippard in 2024.

The project also celebrates the transformative nature of art. Moving from city to city across the globe over nine iterations, Bright Moments itself changed just as it reshaped the cities and people it touched. Mirroring the generative elements of randomness, iteration and emergence, each city stands as a unique utterance of Bright Moments, the algorithm. That algorithm now stands in its ultimate form.

Finally, the project invites us to reflect, bringing us back to 2021 with the first Bright Moments project, Portal by Jeff Davis in Venice Beach, celebrating generative light, space and meditation. In 2024, that light still shines, reflected in space through a Paris-double rainbow towards Venice, Italy, where we have the opportunity to meditate on three years of life, community and art.

Jeff Davis, Portal #0, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Bright Moments

Peter Bauman: I see this Bright Moments Finale Collection’s major themes as community, transformation and reflection. How does the project serve as a lens to understand Bright Moments as a whole?

Phil Mohun: For this project, we wanted to bring artists together like we have for the last three years. We were very intentional about only inviting artists who've participated in Bright Moments projects. And the process of choosing which artists participated in Bright Moments projects was also very intentional but it was unintentional. Tyler [Hobbs] came to Rituals and saw what Aaron [Penne] was doing with us and that led to Incomplete Control. That gave us credibility when we were putting together the Berlin collection for mpkoz [Michael Kozlowski], Casey [Reas], Jason [Ting], Alida [Sun] and everyone else to say, “Yes, I'm in. You guys are doing something that seems interesting.” It's been a snowball effect of artists coming to cities, getting inspired and then joining a collection later in our roadmap. And this is us bringing all of those artists together for one finale.

Erick Calderon: This project is stitching everybody together and bringing everybody into it. Phil mentioned the artists and how they are brought together.

The collector perspective is also incredibly powerful. It's stitching a relationship between the artist and the collectors and also this promise of what Bright Moments is, which is bringing this experiential performance—I refer to it as performance art in many ways—together in one place.

I think people like to share. Artists like to share space with their contemporaries. There's been a lot of indication of that in the traditional art world over the years, whether it's trading art or group shows in history. And this might be the most epic group show for the medium of generative art, at least in terms of the greatest quantity of artists in one show at one time. 

Then, from the on-demand generative minting experience, it takes it to a totally different level by having that moment when you don't know what Citizen you're going to get. On top of that, you're presented with the artwork for the first time as well. It’s a culmination—bringing everybody together in a way that’s enabled by this technology and our online community. I think it's the first time that we're able to see something like that ever come together in the history of art.

It's a new, innovative, powerful, exciting thing. It's like you're taking all of the beauty of everything that's happened over the last couple of years across the generative art ecosystem and putting it into one moment, one experience and one performance.

I think it's going to be really hard to beat that moving forward for people to come up with ideas in the future.

Shunsuke Takawo, Finale Collection Test, 2024. Courtesy of the artist

Anna Carreras: This project is truly a celebration of randomness.

It's like this randomness party.

Randomness is behind almost everything in generative art. But there's also this mega party that everyone wants to join because this will be the closing party of everything. The idea of meeting so many artists, collectors and art lovers—it's something that makes it really unique. And if you shake it with some randomness, then it's the perfect match for generative art.

Seth Goldstein: It's the most simple tokenomics ever. There's no mint pass. You just get a Golden Token; you get a Venetian in one room and then you go to another room and you mint a random work of art from a random artist. There's something that I find incredibly gratifying about artists that code and their willingness to collaborate around something that has randomness at its core. We didn't have to do a lot of convincing to get people to take part. It just happened naturally and it's been really nice to see. 

The randomness that you talk about, Anna, is like an equalizer, and it's the language that we speak and that we've adopted ourselves. When we airdrop Venice tokens to CryptoCitizen holders, it's all random. Randomness has been our religion at Bright Moments from the beginning and it's what's held the project together.

Peter Bauman: The project celebrates randomness, by placing it at the forefront. But it’s also about transformation. These sixty projects are mostly based on previous work. Similarly, Bright Moments has undergone its own generative process of change after each city, creating a new iteration of itself each time. How do you see Bright Moments now in its final form?

Erick Calderon: Over the course of the last three years, I've been doing a little bit of soul-searching. And of course, I love generative art, I love NFTs and I love this technology.

But I also think there's a higher calling with a lot of this in terms of new ways for humans to interact with each other. 

The traditional ways of cultural consumption—whether it's the symphony or going to a museum and quietly walking around with a date and trying to have insightful thoughts on a piece of art—it's harder and harder for the newer generations. This is especially true for the more digitally native, who are comfortable with screens always in their faces.

For everyone that hides behind a PFP to do a rug pull or a scam, there's also another person that hides behind the PFP to be a kinder person than they would be in normal social situations. I feel that a lot of people operate relatively guardedly in life because that's what society has taught us to do.

Bright Moments epitomizes something that’s happened over the last three years by bringing together a bunch of people that can sit around and be as engaged and talk about art in the same way that people can be as engaged and talk about a football game. And I've never experienced that in art.

I've experienced that in music, where people get fired up about Radiohead and go to Coachella. I've never experienced that with art until the last three years and, more specifically, captured by Bright Moments in a way that I don't think anybody else has even come close to.

Bright Moments creates and demonstrates a path for individuals to appreciate culture, society and art in a way that the more legacy versions of art and culture couldn't with a younger generation.

And given the culture that we have throughout the rest of Web3, I think it's counterintuitive to the vast majority of crypto participants to think that people are here for culture, people are here for art and people are here for each other. The things that continue to motivate me are things like this and the people that I get to work with and interact with on a regular basis. There's something greater than what we're talking about. The art is the catalyst and Bright Moments is the performance.

Iskra Velitchkova, Finale Collection Test, 2024. Courtesy of the artist

Peter Bauman: You mention how Bright Moments has now become a place to appreciate culture and art in a digitally native way that still maintains the key element of human interaction. I wonder how the individual projects that compose the Finale Collection have transformed as well, going on a journey from their original city to Venice. How are we transformed again with this new work?

Piter Pasma: I took Industrial Devolution, my project that I released with Bright Moments in October 2022, and I changed it up to use a photorealistic renderer. In a sense, that's growth, even though the photorealistic renderer stuff I was already doing before Industrial Devolution but I definitely got better at it.

To me, it's a perfect retrospective and a way to say thank you to Bright Moments for making all this great stuff happen because it was an event of a lifetime.

It was so nice to experience all that with Samer, Phil, Seth and everybody from the Bright Moments team in Los Angeles.

Maya Man: I first participated in a Bright Moments project in Paris, which was very recently. At first, I was not sure I was going to participate in Venice, mostly because I was really tired in general. But after going to Paris, I had such an amazing time hanging out with the other artists there and hanging out with the people there. Something that Bright Moments does really well is cultivate an environment for people to hang out, which is auxiliary to the art aspect but also central to it as well. It's a lot of work to do that. And so much of my experience as an artist who's making work on and about the Internet has been spending a lot of time online. And I know all these people by their Twitter handles or their Discord usernames. But for me, often it was really difficult to connect to a lot of people just by seeing an avatar profile picture, not knowing who they were. 

Going to Paris and seeing people for days at a time—we'd see each other again and again and again in a way that felt almost like summer camp—was so refreshing because so much of my experience making artwork in the Web3 world is me sitting alone in front of my computer. 

Ultimately, I've just been reflecting on the past three years and my engagement with the Web3 world and digital art in general. And I've been really feeling this craving to return to a prioritization of physical gathering, even though I care so much about art on the Internet and digital art. That's not going to go away. But I think having opportunities for people to really hang out and spend time together in person is crucial. That's the most exciting aspect of participating in something like this.

Anna Carreras: I'm a social beast and Paris was so much fun. I enjoyed talking with everyone: artists, collectors and people just coming by. I was already in Mexico with Bright Moments and I experienced that feeling of being together with collectors, with the team, with everything being in real life and this physical way of putting it together. I was convinced. Even if we are digital, this part of being together makes the relationships grow and makes them stronger. Venice is the opportunity to meet again the people that maybe we see once per year or twice per year. As Maya was saying, there's this thing that's going on those days where you meet people again and again and again. It’s like they live in your neighborhood. And that's why they end up becoming your friends and almost family.

Maya Man: Participating in the Venice Finale Collection is also freeing in a way. Long-form ways of making generative art have become so popular for generative artists. But historically, this wasn't really what everyone was using to make work. It's been imposed by the advent of these different NFT platforms. I think it's really cool and exciting and showcases in a really raw way the power of working with code. But there are also a lot of pressures that come along with working on a long-form project, rooted in the element of randomness that we've all been talking about and the higher edition sizes that long-form projects usually have. So with this finale, the provocation is that there might be one work of yours generated; there might be ten. You don't know.

Seth Goldstein: A warning that there might be zero.

Maya Man: Yeah, I was being generous with the one. So it's been fun to try to make something that feels clearly connected but is not too close to the original Paris collection. There's a clear difference. And I also wanted a very simple and elegant showcase of one aspect of the algorithm. I thought that would be a fun thing to contribute that ties back to Paris.

Julien Espagnon, Finale Collection Test, 2024. Courtesy of the artist

Peter Bauman: We’ve talked so much about how Bright Moments has impacted and nurtured this community. Have these Bright Moments communal interactions ever materially impacted your own practice? 

Samer Dabra: Yeah, I can speak on that. That’s my story. That’s how I joined Bright Moments. Initially, I was known for doing generative portraits. I started posting some stuff on Twitter that Seth saw. He contacted me and said, “Hey, I'm coming to London. We're doing an event in London. We happen to be looking for a generative portrait artist.” Okay, so I let them in my house. I invited them over because I didn't have a studio space. Actually, I was working in my living room so it doubled up. And I got my lights and I put them up to make it look like I had an actual studio there when I didn’t really. I got them to come in, showed them everything and spoke about my work. From there, I ended up being a secret part of the London collection, where I had my own little portrait studio.

I was there every day for a month. And in that time, I saw how everyone in Bright Moments works. I saw the passion. I saw the grueling hours as well from time to time; it was a grind. But everyone made it work. And at the end of it, they basically gave me the keys and said, “Hey, you can deal with this now.” And for me, that was like, “Okay, cool. I guess I'm part of the team.”

Then I helped with Piter's shows and started hanging out with him. There were quite a few moments where we would sit down and talk about our work. One time, I started talking about [Fragment] Shaders and how I'm really scared of them, deathly. I wouldn't touch them. But then he explained to me so simply that I was like, okay, I guess I have to start now.

My whole time in Mexico, I read about shaders and I came to Japan and released Nature Finds a Way, my first foray into shaders. So through that—and I think it goes for a bunch of artists as well—having these hubs where everyone can meet in all these cities, you have these special collaborative moments. Me working with fingacode is the same; we're always going back and forth, sending each other different stuff. Also for this Finale Collection, Piter has been an amazing help, which I greatly appreciate. So thank you.

Piter Pasma: That week with Samer in Los Angeles, where we talked about shaders and all sorts of stuff, was just amazing. Like Anna said, having a bunch of friends all over the world is very nice.

Peter Bauman: We’ve made these friends from all over the world and now Venice is the last planned stop. Seth, can you tell us about the future of Bright Moments after Venice?

Seth Goldstein: You know what? I don't know. I think that's the honest answer. I think we have some ideas. I think, ironically, the more we've stuck by this roadmap of minting 10,000 CryptoCitizens and opening up these cities, and the more we've been really clear about our intentions of finishing, the more reasons open up to continue. We're a really weird organization for better or worse. We're not a typical startup. We're not an artwork. We make money and we share it with artists. So we're not a nonprofit. We are a DAO but we're obviously not totally decentralized. 

But we're definitely tired; I think we're definitely at our wits’ end. We're exhausted. And we also spend all the ETH we generate to put on these performances, as Erick put it. Any ETH that we don't spend is the difference between a 60-inch and an 85-inch screen. We always want a better experience. So there's not a lot left in the tank but it feels like there are lots of opportunities in the future. I think Venice will be perfect in terms of who's coming, the locations and the density of artists. There'll be more artists than collectors, probably, which is bizarre. And that's going to feel really good. 

We definitely feel a responsibility to the community. It's not an accident that we started after the pandemic. The pandemic was a really raw time where we were all alone making stuff behind our computers. Bright Moments didn't have any legacy business to support. We didn't have existing galleries. We just saw the opportunity to bring people together. And I think we want to continue that. But we also want to be true to this idea of finishing something—and finishing something well is beautiful. We're all going to be there together at the last supper and we want to feel a sense of closure. We want to feel like we've completed something. 

I think we're constructively conflicted with how we put a bow on this. But we're really proud of the work that we've done these last three years. I don't think enough people spent time with 100 Untitled Spaces from Mexico that Erick did. We want to give people a chance to look at Industrial Devolution. We want to give people a chance to really go deep. We released so much art in Paris. It was such an awesome, chaotic clusterf– –k.

A lot of those projects didn't get the time that they needed. So part of this by finishing is saying, “Look, no new drops. Look at what we've done. Look at these collections. Look at these artworks. Take some time.” 

We've been in a rush around the world to get to a hundred projects with a hundred outputs and all these CryptoCitizens. But we really want to be intentional about letting it now hold its own as a canon of work that came out of the pandemic and was completed in April 2024 during the Biennale. But we also have an amazing team, and we really like working with each other, and we don't want to go get day jobs. So Yeah.

0xHaiku, Finale Collection Test, 2024. Courtesy of the artist

Peter Bauman: I think your point highlights another major theme of the Finale Collection, which is reflection. The project serves as a vehicle for the team, collectors and artists to consider what’s been accomplished these last three years, particularly its impact moving forward.

Erick Calderon: Traditionally, an artist's most sought-after achievement would be a retrospective at the MoMA. And well, of course, I don't think anybody would reject that. But I do think that the artists we're seeing today are going to be more relevant to upcoming generations.

I do think that a lot of artists that we are surrounded by that have participated in Bright Moments are going to be some of the most well-known and appreciated artists in the future—I mean broadly, outside of crypto and outside of Web3—whether that's in three years or thirty years. Art is funny like that so we don't know. 

I recently had an opportunity to work on Opepen with Jack Butcher. And I realized that there is a future where it is a bigger honor to have been included in Opepen than to have some major recognition from what we consider to be a legacy art institution today. I see being included in Bright Moments at the exact same point in that.

This Finale Collection is a moment in history and it's something that I think will have been an absolute honor and privilege for any single person who has participated as a collector or as an artist. 

We're all flying by the seat of our pants. Everybody is—artists, platforms, et cetera. But I think that we'll look back at these milestones and see the community aspect of participating in a group show at such an early stage in this history. I think there've been four or five moments like this in the last three years that we'll be able to look back on as being the start of a new generation and a new paradigm for art. And I think this project is encapsulating it all in one place for the generative creator.


Seth Goldstein is the Founder of Bright Moments.

Erick Calderon (Snowfro) is an artist and the Founder of Art Blocks.

Maya Man is an artist focused on contemporary identity culture on the Internet.

Anna Carreras is a creative coder and digital artist interested in experimenting with interactive communication.

Samer Dabra (Spongenuity) is a generative artist and Bright Moments software engineer.

Piter Pasma is a generative artist, expressing himself through experiments with code and complexity.

Phil Mohun is building Bright Moments.

Peter Bauman (Monk Antony) is Le Random's Editor-in-Chief.