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In Conversation with Jeremy Schoenherr (Jeres) on Torrent cover photo

INTERVIEW

In Conversation with Jeremy Schoenherr (Jeres) on Torrent

by Jordan Kantor

Jeremy Schoenherr (Jeres) is an artist and former engineer living in downtown Los Angeles. They strive to create work that evokes an emotional response and are fascinated with exploring the range of expression possible with the help of randomness, color and texture. They hold a degree in computer engineering from University of Michigan, where they minored in art history.
Jordan Kantor: Hello, Jeremy. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us about your upcoming release. Before we get to Torrent, however, can you tell us a bit about your creative history? How did you first get into making art?
Jeremy Schoenherr: Formally making art is a rather new phenomenon in my life—but having creative endeavors isn’t. Like most kids, I would paint and draw, but once I discovered computers at a young age, I became more interested in programming them than anything else. I incorporated my first company at age fifteen, and while that led absolutely nowhere because it turns out there isn’t a market for very specific software targeting the niche area of amateur motorsports my family participated in, it did cement a dedication to personal creative projects that eventually led me here.
I was always interested in art, though, and minored in art history when I went to college for computer engineering. That was in the late 90s, right after I moved to New York City from the Midwest. I spent the next twenty or so years working in tech, but always had a finger in other creative outlets. Photography was a passion, and I was in a number of bands where I was responsible for the album art, photography, flyers, and anything else that was related to visual aspects of the bands. I’ve also built a number of mobile apps as personal projects ranging from games to bespoke cameras for friends who were photographers. In a nutshell, I always needed to have my own creative projects in the works to stay sane.
Jeres, Coronado #112, 2022..jpeg
Jeres, Coronado #112, 2022.
JK: Software for amateur motorsports sounds niche in all the best ways. Perhaps you were ahead of your time on that one, but your entrepreneurial initiative is remarkable. From computer engineering and art history, how did you first get into generative art and discover the blockchain as a medium for your creative work?
JS: By summer 2021, I had heard rumblings about NFTs but really didn’t deeply explore them until a friend was talking about some art projects they were interested in. I had no idea that there was more of an art scene than just Nyan Cat GIFs or CryptoPunks. This quickly led to stumbling onto Art Blocks, learning about long-form generative art in general, and inevitably reading blog posts by many of the artists on the platform. I couldn’t believe this was a thing and a possible option. I was officially enamored and felt like it was the perfect medium and process for me, even though I hadn’t written one line of code for this purpose yet.
So, like many, I started playing with p5.js’ online editor to get acquainted with some of the tools. I minted a few things on hic et nunc just to know what it felt like, but it wasn’t until I heard about fx (hash) that I could see a path for me with long-form generative. After that, I just went heads down on creating my first collection, which was followed by a series of collections over the next year under various aliases, but mostly as Jeres. I was hooked.
Jeres, Torrent, 2023. Test output..jpeg
Jeres, Torrent, 2023. Test output.
JK: It is impressive that your first coding with p5.js was just two years ago. How has your creative process evolved in the intervening time?
JS: Since I was effectively learning (from scratch) in public, my process has evolved a lot with each release. There has always been a spirit of experimentation and exploration with my work, but the focus has shifted from subjects that were a little more detached to themes more personal, emotional, or spiritual. Much of the process of discovering myself as an artist has been overcoming fears and to become more vulnerable with the work.
Beyond just aesthetics, I wanted to focus on creating things that made me feel something. If it didn’t evoke something emotional with me, it wasn’t enough. A good example of this is Glossolalia, which was a collection that revealed itself as I worked on it. As it was coming together (and as I wrote in the notes for that project), the visuals kept making me think of catharsis and for some reason, speaking in tongues (which is a more casual phrase used for glossolalia) in my childhood.
Jeres, Glossolalia #26, 2023..jpeg
Jeres, Glossolalia #26, 2023.
What this meant in terms of process was that I was less strict about defining what I wanted to accomplish with a project beforehand, and evolved to letting the work expose itself organically and guide me, revealing what it wants to be. This meant letting myself identify more as a lens than an architect to the work. I obviously have my biases that will no doubt affect it, but ultimately I want the source to just flow through me.
As a rule, I try to avoid using a certain technique or algorithm just for the sake of using them because it feels like the result can be more of a demo or proof of concept than any real expression. For example, as more and more projects out there were using shaders, I resisted until there was something that wanted to come out of the work that they would enable; I didn’t want the work just to be about the technology. Torrent uses a shader, it’s true, but only because I felt the art demanded it, not because I “wanted to make a project using shaders.”
Jeres, Here, After #326, 2022..jpeg
Jeres, Here, After #326, 2022.
Another change for me was to not let expectation define where I should be going. I hope that somehow there is a through-line between my work, but I never want to make something just because I think collectors want or expect a certain thing. Coronado, which was my most successful collection at time of release, relied heavily on color blending and showing intentional wear, patina, and blemishes. The follow-up, Glossolalia, was far from that because I felt that it wasn’t what the work needed, even if that is what people seemed to appreciate so much about the previous collection. To me, the energy between the two collections still feels connected, but that shouldn’t come from trying to recreate the former. Sometimes these expectations were self-inflicted; my first few collections shared a very similar aesthetic which I naively thought at the time should be my signature style. This quickly turned into a box of limitations and from then on, I discarded that constraint, even if particular projects after would have their own, new constraints added.
Mostly, though, what has changed is what I allow to be released, and how much time I spend with them. The cycles for each project are now longer and are given more time to grow and evolve. They often get rest periods while other seeds of ideas are explored, whereas when I first started, often a project would jump from idea to release rather quickly. Now, I want them to mature a bit before they find their way out. Sometimes a project that is resting should stay asleep. If it haunts me and I can’t help but return, that’s usually a good signal.
Jeres, Torrent, 2023. Test output. 2.jpeg
Jeres, Torrent, 2023. Test output.
JK: Thank you for sharing that background. It leads us perfectly to the project at hand. Please tell us a bit about Torrent.
JS: Torrent is a culmination of a number of things for me. Aesthetically, I feel like it ties together much of what I’ve worked on over the past two years while stepping beyond that as well. I’m often thinking about the ambiguity of identity, reality, and what truth is, if it exists. Torrent reflects that, at least for me. I think it can be interpreted a number of ways, but I see it as an analog to understanding how things became what they are, whether that be the world at large or something more internal … how we became the people we are. I see it as a metaphor for memory and history, along with the fluidity and fallibility of those things.
I describe the work as the record or aftermath of some sort of torrential downpour, where all we have left are mashed up artifacts that only give hints to what was before or what events led to how they came together. As it animates, it re-contextualizes the elements of each composition, which maps to how our understanding of the past and ourselves can evolve over time, shifting what truth is and how we interpret what we think we know. It could be how we remember an event or feeling, or how we view society in general or our entire upbringing. Our understanding changes with time and what we allow ourselves to see can evolve depending on what we decide to focus on. 
Jeres, Torrent, 2023. Test output. 3.jpeg
Jeres, Torrent, 2023. Test output.
JK: These are really evocative and timely metaphors. What would you advise collectors look for in the series as it is revealed?
JS: One of the fun things about creating long-form generative art is that you get to see so many outputs while it evolves during its development. This algorithm leaves a lot of space for unexpected emergent forms to reveal themselves. I wanted to create enough opportunity within Torrent to hint towards many types of materials, so some outputs may serve fabric textures, or concrete and marble, along with scraped paint, watercolors and drizzled inks on textured papers. These can combine into psychedelic landscapes or childish sketches of animals or just remain the abstract compositions they are. When animating, even more can emerge and morph, so please spend time letting them play out.
I also encourage the viewer to investigate how colors play between outputs. Besides the monochrome outputs, there are no individual explicit palettes being used. Instead, there is one large pool where a subset will be present in an output. By using varying subsets, we are allowing more possible color interactions but still allowing the colors to tie the collection together as a whole.
My hope is that this creates a greater emotional range within the collection, where a color in one context could feel (or even look) very different than when juxtaposed with a different set of colors. This also allows for colors to clash at times, creating a reaction that might be unique to only that output, but that can map to feeling emotional combinations we don’t expect in real life, which can expand our range of human experience even if we don’t exactly know what to make of them.
JK: Thank you. I am sure that will give viewers new ways to think about the use of color across the series. Is there anything else you’d like to share that would help your audience approach and appreciate your work?
JS: While all my collections have a specific meaning to me, I hope viewers can approach my work and let it speak to them however it connects, if at all. I try to only release work that triggers a response in me and that I’m proud of aesthetically, but like any art, it can take on many meanings or feelings depending on who is viewing it, or none at all. Also, given that I have effectively learned my craft in public, I hope they can see some sort of narrative of someone trying to find themself and their voice, who is still continuing to do that as they evolve. The work together is a document to this reinvention, some looking back, some forward, but all an attempt to connect with oneself and the world around them. We’re all just constant works in progress, which, in my opinion, is the crux of life.
Jeres, Tragedy Static:Heaven #94, 2023..jpeg
Jeres, Tragedy Static/Heaven #94, 2023.
JK: Speaking of works in progress, are there any recent accomplishments you’d like to share?
JS: Well, while getting a collection accepted to Art Blocks Curated is by far the thing I’m most excited about right now, I am really proud of the collection released on Verse earlier this year, Tragedy Static/Heaven, which was part of their “Imperfections” group show. And while this may not count as recent, having a few pieces from Coronado curated into the Tezos exhibition at Art Basel Miami last winter was quite an honor and thrill. But truly, discovering Art Blocks effectively two years ago, changing my life’s direction, to now being able to release here, is the most wonderful thing I could imagine.
JK: We are delighted this is the direction you took and thank you for entrusting Art Blocks with Torrent. Thank you. What is the best way for people to follow your work?
JS: On the social network formerly known as Twitter, I’m @heyjeres and that is by far the best way to keep up with the latest, but jeres.xyz is the great index to my current happenings and past work.

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