Marjan Moghaddam

Share the Passion

Marjan Moghaddam is a real icon in the Digital Art world. She is doing Digital Art for over 37 years. Her first exhibited computer animation was done on a Commodore 64, in 1984. In 1996, she was one of the featured artists at the DOTCOM Gallery in NYC. Her passion and interest for art commenced in her childhood and developed ever since. Renaissance Art studies are a true inspiration since grad school. Her ingenuity is been taken from art of her country of orgin Iran including. Qajar paintings amongst others are some of her favourites.


NFT Granny: „Dear Marjan, it is an honour that you take your precious time to answer my question. In 1996 you were one of the featured artists at the DOTCOM Gallery and the International Forum for the Digital Arts. How would you describe the development of the Digital Art scene since then?“

Marjan Moghaddam: With the early Internet, there was a real interest in Computer Art. I had become the featured artist for Prodigy/DOTCOM right after I had done Synaesthesia, the first major computer art gallery exhibition in Soho (NYC’s gallery district back then), with other pioneers like Jaron Lanier (there is a published catalog for this show). But that excitement and energy did not endure, for most of the time since, Digital Art remained the underrepresented medium of the contemporary art market in NYC, without even the legitimacy or sales of video art, photography or even performance art. While other artists and I continued to create and exhibit Digital Art, the field continued to trail behind others, especially in the NYC art market. When I look back, most of the better large scale shows I did since the 1990s were outside of NYC.

To some extent, after decades of frustration, this led to my decision to take my work directly to the Internet with my #arthacks. I had pretty much decided that galleries were going to be secondary to my exhibition practice by 2016, and that’s when I decided to hack my #digitalbodies into found and shot exhibition footage on Instagram, as a way of redefining form for Digital Art, while radicalizing curation, democratizing the exhibition space, and engaging in a critical discourse. What followed then was amazing, as some of the pieces went viral on top art channels on Instagram and Facebook, and a huge following grew out around the world. That’s when I realized the bulk of the art-viewing public, globally speaking, is mainly on the Internet. I find myself not really going to galleries that much anymore, mostly because the work does not engage me. My #arthacks since have also been shortlisted for the International Digital Sculpture Prize with museum exhibitions in Germany and a commissioned Chronometric Sculpture AR for the Smithsonian. Now I meet so many artists who cite my „hacks“ as inspiration for their own practice and are also doing the same.

But I think with the NFT space, I finally see Digital Art receiving the legitimacy that it has been denied for so long. Now there is real appreciation of what Digital Artists have been doing for so long. A lot of it has to do with the collecting infrastructure of NFTs and, to some extent, the financial success of work such as XCopy & Beeple’s historically significant auctions. The era of collecting and valuing Digital Art has begun. And last summer I was in Proof of Art: History of Digital Art & NFTs in Linz, Austria, the first museum exhibitions of NFT art in the world, with an accompanying art book that I think will be an important addition to the pedagogy for the field.


How did you first become interested in art, and how did you get started with it yourself?

Marjan Moghaddam: I had been interested in art since childhood. My parents both loved art, and my father was a lawyer with a specialty in art and antiquities, which also gave me a great education In the arts.

Could you tell us more about the story of your project “Crypto Art Rides The Bull”?

Marjan Moghaddam: When I came to the NFT space with my first pieces and sales in September 2020, I noticed a few Bull animations; most were firmly situated in the meme space. I think even Beeple did one. And so, I felt that as a female artist in 3dCG, I wanted to flex alongside the male artists, something I make space and time for in my art practice regularly, precisely because of the underrepresentation of women in this space. While memes inform my work, I usually have many other influences that I layer in my pieces, so I wasn’t really interested in doing another bull meme. I wanted to make a more substantial statement about what was happening and investigate all the layers of meaning that this context presented.

Superrare Zack has a line that in the future parents will be telling their kids not to become doctors or lawyers but to become Digital Artists, which is an excellent way of describing some of the ideals of the creator economy and the NFT revolution. And I wanted to investigate this idea of Crypto art as a female with a body that switches from slender to heavy & glitched (in my style), riding the Wall Street Bull, outside the NY Stock Exchange, as an #arthack. She is also rainbow coloured, representing a wide artistic tribe, if you may, triumphantly riding what is fundamentally a patriarchal symbol since ancient times. Other elements within the piece build up additional layers of meaning, which for me was about the raw capture of that moment. This was right after the 69 million dollars, Beeple sale. It was the biggest Bull run of NFTs since their inception, and the world was waking up to the idea of a JPEG outselling historically important oil paintings. Around this time BBC did a documentary called Art Goes Digital, and I was featured with this piece and several others in between Beeple and XCopy.

„Crypto Art Rides The Bull“
Open on Superrare.com
Which of your artworks are you most proud of? 

Marjan Moghaddam: I have to pick a few from every era. My PMS animation done on an Amiga and exhibited at the Helms Degenerate Art Show in 1990 (East Village, NYC) which I recently showed again at my solo show at MOCDA (Museum of Contemporary Digital Art, in Decentraland).

The Chaoscape Collection with the Boxes (Head-Immersive early virtual reality installations) and fractal animation based gallery work from 1993-1996 included the 3d animation GIFs derived from it for DOTCOM.

My 1990s adorations series of Post Humanist 3d CG figures with fractal dermal pigmentation as animation and also large format prints, two of which were in Siggraph and also CG’03: 30 Years of Computer Art international travelling exhibition from Siggraph which toured museums and galleries, internationally.

Computer 69, which was an official selection of so many festivals in 2006 and was also exhibited in curated exhibitions of Armory show in NYC and Art Basel.

My Sim Squared live laptop-based visual performance for the Visual Music marathon funded by the Rockefeller Fund (2009). Scab, an animated painting (Siggraph 2009 and Best of), was my first major exhibited piece using Mocap exploring PTSD.

My entire Of Revolutions collection from 2010-2015 of animations, prints, sculpture, avateered painting, which I exhibited widely exploring revolutions in late-stage capitalism, art, feminism etc., really one of the best, extensive collections of exhibited works I have. And of course, all my #arthacks (2016-present) with the two most viral “Baisser at Mary Boone in Glassish and Waxish”, alongside the feminist viral hit “GlitchGoddess of Art Basel Miami 2018”.

In terms of NFTs in the last year, I love all of them because each one was meticulously done. But if I had to pick one: I would say both of my Lordesses with voxelized Gan are among my favourites in expanding my original style of Chronometric Sculpture in a digital embodiment. 

„Lordess Drop in Voxelized Blue Green GAN Painting
Open on Superrare.com
Lordess Drop in Red Teale Voxelized GAN Painting
Open on Superrare.com
Is there an artist you would like to work with? Like a collaboration?

Marjan Moghaddam: I’ve collaborated with Mark Klink in the past, but right now I’m not really looking to collab. 

We are curious 🙂 Would you be willing to share any plans of upcoming projects?

Marjan Moghaddam: I think I’m interested in doing collections but have not quite gotten around to coming up with the right ideas for it yet. My Glitching Juno Moneta series for Institut was another important investigation of the Defi revolution and its civilizational impact, and I’d like to continue that dialog with future pieces. Obviously, more Lordesses. I’m currently doing several public art projects, including permanent sculpture from one of my figures and AR for Hillsborough Castle park in the UK, which will be finished in 2022.
Also, I’m doing Vinyl prints, large scale soft sculpture and AR public art in Vancouver, and I will be part of the city-wide Snap AR public art project in Orlando. In terms of other NFT projects, I will be expanding into a few other platforms, with drops starting as soon as December. And I will be in a Sueprrare surprise NFT event this December, which will be announced by them, then. Currently, I am In the 5D Futures pavilion of the Wrong Digital Art Biennial for the next six months and the 15 Second museum project with two of my NFTs with Shibuya TV across a thousand outdoor screens in Japan.

Who or what are your biggest influences or sources of inspiration?  

Marjan Moghaddam: I actually studied Renaissance Art with one of the top scholars of it in grad school, so naturally, that is an inspiration, in addition to the Netherlandish as classical art. I’m also very inspired by the art of my original country Iran, from various eras, including Qajar paintings which are some of my favourites. I’m a huge fan of early Modernism and Fluxus in terms of 20th-century art. I always say if I had to pick a list of a few names, it would be Kubrick, Nam June Paik, Tex Avery, Louise Nevelson, Dali, Tarkovsky, Francis Bacon, Cindy Sherman, and some of the YPBAs like the Chapman Brothers. My favourite contemporary painters are Inka Essenhigh and also Dana Shutz. And my number one favourite Digital Artist of all time is Chris Landreth whom I consider as the most significant, and my #2 is close friend Mark Klink. I’m also pretty sure, Mark would agree with me on Chris being #1 😉.

Is there something specific you are trying to express with your art? 

Marjan Moghaddam: I think I consider art and culture as part of our sensemaking apparatus on the one hand and part of how we express and experience Being, in the ontological sense, on the other hand. For me the fine arts in particular are about a higher mechanism for sensemaking, in a manner that is contemplative, layered, complex, nuanced and also sublime.
I agree with many critics who have observed the breakdown of sensemaking in our world such as Daniel Schmachtenberger, and other critics who have brought up the Flatness problems of technology which is reducing the depth of culture and experience with clickbait and the eyeball economy. So, I try to bring back the layering, the nuance, the complexity, the sublime and contemplative aspects of art while firmly situated in the Avant Garde, avoiding most popular contemporary pictorial compositions in a search for the aesthetics and visuals that have never been seen before.
I think its safe to say, if I was forced to depict the contemporary NFT CG cliché of a lone figure in a cinematic cyberpunk city or alien vista, it would most likely end up not looking anything like this popular genre in NFTs.

What do you feel when you are creating new art? 

Marjan Moghaddam: I think I consider art and culture as part of our sensemaking apparatus on the one hand and part of how we express and experience Being, in the ontological sense, on the other hand. For me the fine arts in particular are about a higher mechanism for sensemaking, in a manner that is contemplative, layered, complex, nuanced and also sublime.
I agree with many critics who have observed the breakdown of sensemaking in our world such as Daniel Schmachtenberger, and other critics who have brought up the Flatness problems of technology which is reducing the depth of culture and experience with clickbait and the eyeball economy. So, I try to bring back the layering, the nuance, the complexity, the sublime and contemplative aspects of art while firmly situated in the Avant-Garde, avoiding most popular contemporary pictorial compositions in a search for the aesthetics and visuals that have never been seen before.
I think its safe to say, if I was forced to depict the contemporary NFT CG cliché of a lone figure in a cinematic cyberpunk city or alien vista, it would most likely end up not looking anything like this popular genre in NFTs.

Do you remember the first time you heard about NFT Art?

Marjan Moghaddam: Yes, a collector DMed me on Twitter saying “will you please tokenize your art so I can collect it? And so I started to research it.

What would be your biggest wish for the NFT Art scene? What is currently missing / not fully developed to reach full potential out of it?

Marjan Moghaddam: Much of the flattening and deconstruction of the picture plane throughout the 20th Century was a necessary bridge to where we are today with the virtual and the digital. But I also think we lost a lot of the philosophical understanding of aesthetics as a result. Sometimes when I visit museums, I’m shocked at how watered-down contemporary works can be, a forgettable hypnotic video art loop is presented as sublime, and I’m like sublime according to who? Is something that is merely hypnotic automatically sublime? Do you think Kant, or Schopenhauer, Lyotard etc., would find it sublime? Probably not. So much of the profound and sublime in art has been lost. And now we have this eyeball economy, where whatever is the junk food equivalent of visuals is celebrated. I’m not suggesting that the applied arts and strong visuals should not be a part of our culture, but I am pointing out that we need more than what gets eyeballs. And much of the legacy art world is stuck in 20th century artistic and curatorial practices that are not really art in the 21st Century. Which brings us back to the importance of the fine arts as part of our sense-making apparatus, and now we need it more than ever. So I would like to see the patronage system of NFTs, which is a lot freer in terms of aesthetics, content etc., at this time, play a more significant part in shaping art of the 21st Century in ways that are informed by the needs of our moment.

We would really like to know, where do you see the NFT Art scene in the future? 

Marjan Moghaddam: I think much of the NFT ecosystem will define popular media in the digital space and the metaverse. It will be collectables, pop culture ephemera, in-game objects, and social media accessories like avatar projects and possibly other accessories. These things are also a bubble right now because people are spending more on ephemera with cryptocurrencies than they ever would with fiat. So, this bubble will most likely burst, too, the way Internet 1.0 did. I worked as a production artist in NYC’s Silicon Alley back in the 1990s and remembered it well. Once the bubble burst, the party ended, and the suits came in with Web 2.0, which was heavily corporatized. Right now, it is like 1994 or 1995 energy, with a lot of proselytizing and evangelical optimism. I just spoke on the Crypto Art panel of NFT NYC, and the whole week had almost spiritual qualities to it. I think this is all wonderful for a nascent movement, but this will eventually settle into something else. My hope is that there is still enough possibility left in terms of a patronage system for the fine arts to rescue art from both the 20th-century practices that no longer address our time and the Flatness problem of technology which I mentioned before, because we need it probably more than ever before.

Which tools do you use to create your art?

Marjan Moghaddam: I have been using Lightwave 3d as my primary 3dCG DCC for over 30 years now, and I mostly render with Octane. But I also use Blender, Motion Builder, Marvelous Designer, C4d, Unity, Unreal, the entire Adobe Production Suite, Gan Generators, Fractal Generators, various Glitching software, and tons of plugins, various freeware, and some proprietary tools and scripts.

What does a typical day for you look like, and what do you like to do when you’re not busy with NFT Art?

Marjan Moghaddam: I wake up, do a short inspirational reading, and then meditate. I then get on my workstation and try to get in a walk or exercise in between working. When not busy with NFTs, I walk in parks in the city or travel to the mountains, where I spend time in the forest.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Marjan Moghaddam: Pick and choose your battles carefully.

Is there something aside from art or NFTs you collect?

Marjan Moghaddam: Books.

What do you feel the moment a project you’ve created dropped?

Marjan Moghaddam: Nervous.

Where do you like to travel?

Marjan Moghaddam: I’m not a big beach person, I get bored after a few days, so I’m more of a mountain and lake person, you will almost always find me in the mountains next to a lake. 

  • Full Name: Marjan Moghaddam
  • Current hometown: Brooklyn, New York. USA
  • Languages she speaks: English, Persian, and some French
  • What did you want to be when you were a child: An artist or writer.
  • Education: MFA Studio Art
  • First Job: Bartender

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