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In Conversation with Thomas Lin Pedersen cover photo

INTERVIEW

In Conversation with Thomas Lin Pedersen

by Jeff Davis

Thomas Lin Pedersen is a generative artist based in Denmark, where he lives with his wife and two sons. His art merges the digital precision of computer-based art with an organic feel, exploring the tension between perfection and flaws. I had the opportunity to catch up with Thomas in advance of his Art Blocks Curated release Screens.
Jeff Davis: Hi Thomas! It’s great to speak with you, I’m really excited about your upcoming project. How did you first get into making art?
Thomas Lin Pedersen: I don’t know when I started to call what I make art. I think a lot of creatives grapple with crossing that threshold. I’ve had a creative drive for as long as I can remember, but it has always manifested itself most strongly in relation to a computer. I taught myself to make levels for Quake 3 as a kid, and I remember that there was distinctly an element of wanting to create beautiful sceneries and architecture as part of it.
Later, I became very interested in both digital photography and graphic design, and photography was a big part of my life for many years. Also, the computer played a large role as I became very interested in different digital post-processing approaches. While all of this was going on, my studies moved more and more towards programming, first with a focus on data science, and later on data visualization and graphics. So while art and creativity have just always been there on the sideline in my life, everything started to converge.
Thomas Lin Pedersen, genesis 338..png
Thomas Lin Pedersen, genesis 338.
JD: Yes, so it would make sense that you would eventually land on generative art. When did you start pursuing creative coding as an artistic direction?
TLP: When I had my first child, I found it increasingly difficult to find time for running around with a camera when the light was “just right.” So, for a time, I was both depleted of sleep and a creative outlet. I stumbled upon generative art by chance in 2017, seeing a tweet from Anders Hoff (@inconvergent) and it resonated deeply with me. I’m a software engineer focusing on graphics, but it had never occurred to me to make art through programming and chance. Very soon after that, I’d created my first generative system. Something really clicked in me, seeing my two interests in perfect unison. Further, as I was creating open-source tools for graphics, it gave me a perfect opportunity to become the user of my own tools which I was sorely missing.
Thomas Lin Pedersen, phases 2423..png
Thomas Lin Pedersen, phases 2423.
JD: That’s interesting that your transition to generative art happened as a result of your new family. I had a similar experience myself, where I took a break from artmaking when my children were young, and I started to explore generative systems that got me going again creatively. Moving forward, how did you discover NFTs and crypto art?
TLP: I began to register it in late 2020 through chats with fellow artists and by simply seeing tweets about it. I am really attached to the physical manifestation of my art, be it print or pen plots, so I took some time to warm up to the idea. The thing that brought me over was Hic et nunc and the community that formed around it. It helped that a lot of friends within generative art went on the same path as me and were part of the early HEN days. On the sideline, a group of friends were also working on projects for Art Blocks and I began thinking more and more about this particular generative art form. Knowing I was going to release an AB project, I minted my first Art Blocks piece (Fidenza) to get a feel for the experience as well as listing a few pieces on Foundation to build up some experience with the Ethereum chain. After the release of Rapture, I deliberately tried to detach myself a bit from what was going on in the crypto art world. The pace of crypto can be damaging to the artistic process I think, and I believe it can be a good thing to practice some abstinence to avoid just making and releasing art for the sake of not feeling left behind. I spent this time working on Screens.
Thomas Lin Pedersen, constructive 323..png
Thomas Lin Pedersen, Constructive 323.
JD: Yeah, the idea of taking a crypto sabbatical to recharge your creative batteries is probably something all artists could benefit from. So let’s get into Screens then. What would you say is the inspiration for the project?
TLP: Over time I’ve grown increasingly interested in the intersection of digital precision and analogue flaws. These flaws are often what bring texture and a sense of tactility to the piece and it is something I felt lacking in my own work. I decided at the beginning of 2021 that I would make texture a main focus of the year. While I experimented with many things, one of the sensations I wanted to play with was that of dithering. Further, after having worked on Rapture, my previous Art Blocks project, I needed to get away from flow and dynamic systems for a while and found inspiration in the cleaner geometric designs of Bauhaus and Constructivism. The coalescence of these two ideas led to my Constructive series and I am in love with the feel of this digital screen-printing system. While trying to bring it into a long form format, I embraced more chaos than I had allowed in Constructive. I’ve taken obvious cues from both Wassily Kandinsky and Lyubov Popova on how to tame this chaos into something palpable.
Thomas Lin Pedersen, Screens #0, 2022..png
Thomas Lin Pedersen, Screens #0, 2022.
JD: What should collectors look for as the series is revealed?
TLP: While there are differences in how common different features are, this series is really not about feature rarity. The system is designed in a way that allows for a lot of emergent effects in the final composition and to me, these are the ones to look out for. My personal favorites during development were due not to a specific feature, but a surprising interplay between the shapes and colors. Screens can produce both highly abstract and strong three-dimensional feelings and I find it interesting to dive into how the interplay between both the shapes being displayed, along with the different rendering options, can tilt a piece one way or another.
JD: I think emergence and reverie are the most exciting qualities about generative art as well. How would you say your creative practice has evolved?
TLP: There is no doubt that I take my process more seriously now. Crypto art has been kind to me, and I’ve taken this as a way to slow down and be more considerate and deliberate with my art. It can be tough because the crypto world moves so fast and you feel everyone else is producing amazing art at breakneck speed, but I try to tell myself that I’ve already achieved more than I ever imagined so it is ok to slow down and focus. I’ve spent this time investigating what I really find fascinating about generative art and figuring out where I feel I can make a meaningful contribution to the art form. This is vastly different than my initial approach which was more like: “I think this could look cool” *taps on keyboard* “Oh, yeah—does look cool.”
Thomas Lin Pedersen, winds 6040..webp
Thomas Lin Pedersen, winds 6040.
JD: Haha, it still looks cool, but yes—working with intention is what takes the work to the next level. Any other recent accomplishments you’d like to share?
TLP: I’ve been working on a collaboration with Atemporal Production, a collective of composers. The end result is a generative animation with a custom score played by a full orchestra. This is something I’d never dream I’d do, let alone get the chance to, so I’m super hyped about it and looking forward to sharing it later this year. I’m mainly a “static” generative artist, so working deliberately towards an animation has been a fun challenge, more so because it should integrate and support a score. Given the chance I would definitely try it out again.
JD: Yes, I consider myself a 2-D artist too, but working with NFTs has given me the opportunity to explore things like animation and interaction, which I wouldn’t have otherwise. Is there anything else people should know to better understand your art?
TLP: I’ve been focusing a lot on both the macro and micro structure in my work lately, and I feel Screens is a great example of this. Try to get up close to my artwork and then slowly move away to see how it develops as more and more macro structure becomes visible and the micro structure diminishes.
JD: And what’s the best way for people to follow your work?
TLP: I’m mainly active on Twitter where I share my work (both finished and not). I also have a gallery with prints on my website along with a list of all the places I mint NFTs which I try to keep current here.

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