In the winter of 2016 Denny Hunter won an Ebay auction for what he thought was one pillar style vintage vending machine through which he wanted to vend miniature versions of his own artwork; One week later he was astonished when ‘five’ vending machines arrived at his door and Artobotic was born.
“I wanted to extend my idea of placing my artwork right under the nose of the public- in bars, barber shops and galleries to all artists- and give as much back to the artists as possible whilst still managing to keep the project running. We’re not anti-gallery we just want art to be affordable and accessible to all”
The project was a massive success and attracted an endless list of successful Turner Prize artists and Royal academicians like Jake & Dinos Chapman, John Byrne, Unskilled Worker, David Mach and prolific street artists like Fokawolf, Motley, Subvertiser and even collector contributions by Banksy and Ai WeiWei mixed in with artwork by emerging artists so as to be potluck; When you insert your £10 you don’t know who or what you’re going to get and there’s a chance that an ordinary member of the public could purchase an original work of art that could have been on sale in a top London or New York gallery for the price of a couple of beers. Artobotic machines have been themed for events and curated around topics of interest like when Denny crowdfunded Brexit Art Machine to tour the UK with the sole intention of creating dialogue amongst the general public via the use of art on an issue which nearly broke the UK in two. TV presenter Phill Jupitus and Muriel Gray backed the project which culminated in Denny standing outside the gates of The Houses Of Parliament during a Pro-Brexit demonstration which turned out to be one of the biggest and most tense political demonstrations in UK history with a vending machine loaded with art which was predominantly anti-Brexit!
Fast forward to 2020 and Artobotic had a hiatus caused by the pandemic. Most of the bars, shops and galleries that Artobotic machines were installed were forced to close their doors. It was during this time that Denny discovered crypto.
“I invested a little bit in crypto currency and got rekt soon after. for most people that would have left a bad taste but I really wanted to find out more about blockchain because it seemed to be quite interesting, especially NFTs and how they could offer a way for artists to trade with collectors without the need for intermediaries and the whole idea of accessibility fed right through to Artobotic’ core values — “
“I researched everything to do with art on the blockchain and joined various discord groups including a seemingly obscure one called Neblio Developer Central, a Discord server devoted to the discussion of development ideas and applications for the Neblio blockchain which is highly undervalued. I had the idea of creating an NFT version of the machine which could vend art on street corners within metaverse platforms like decentraland or Sandbox so I asked the question in the Discord and it was received well by the community”
“I can imagine the virtual machines not only installed within decentralised VR games but also in augmented reality experiences using AR spectacles”
“It will still be potluck and you’re likely to receive an NFT worth the value of your vend but it could be a limited edition drop by a famous artist. People will want to have the machines on their virtual land because it will improve footfall just like how we had no problem in real life installing machines in prominent places- people want to be associated with the project and all the artists within it- some businesses even wanted to have a machine for their launch party like G-Hold tablet holders who put on an augmented reality art experience to demonstrate how comfortable their new phone solution was at their launch.”
Artobotic has clearly developed a small although very potent community. Can it really mirror this success on the blockchain though?
In walks Ayshia Taskin- curator of The Wall Space Gallery a virtual gallery space. Ayshia was contacted by Denny to curate METAWORKS Artobotic’s new exhibition of NFT art which is taking place over the Edinburgh festival 2021. Ayshia said:
“With the emergence of NFT/Crypto and Blockchain, artists are now able to take a different approach and a more intimate control over their creative practice. There is a dynamic supportive online community which is connecting artists in unique ways through co-exhibits and collabs.”
Ayshia is a successful intermedia artist who has adopted blockchain art as part of her creative practice. She regularly collabs with other artists and galleries and took up the challenge of curating a suite of special boxes containing some very special art by blockchain artists within her community. These works are not only in physical form as a print but also contain instructions on how to claim the NFT on the blockchain. It’s hoped that by taking the machine out into public spaces like Assembly at George Square and Edinburgh Art Shop in the Edinburgh Fringe the general public will be able to engage with blockchain art in a way that is palatable and familiar.
“It’s lovely to see so many people engaging with the machine and really wanting to hear more about blockchain art. For the vast majority of people, blockchain art is perceived as being inaccessible so this project is about breaking down those barriers; Showing people how easy it is to set up a wallet and start engaging with the blockchain in general”
The artists involved in Metaworks are all accomplished artists and they range from augmented reality works by Rado Rossum and Eric Millikin to beautiful and interesting animations and 2D works please have a look at the full list of artists involved here…
Metaworks runs from 11th — 29th August with 1hr pop-ups all over the Edinburgh Fringe. Stay tuned to Artobotic’s social media to get a one hour heads-up for every pop-up!