Humans have always held a natural, predisposed fascination with space. As a species, this curiosity is almost built into our DNA, to wonder what exactly exists beyond Earth. Ancient Mayans believed that the actions of the gods could be interpreted by the positions of the stars. Galileo spent his life gazing into the sky, eventually committing heresy by confirming that, as Copernicus believed years before, the Earth did indeed revolve around the sun. Centuries later, the Cold War was defined by a competitive battle for spaceflight dominance and a race to land on the moon.
In November of 2019, Jean-Baptiste Launay, more commonly known as Jisbar within the modern art community, joined the exclusive fraternity of influential figures who have contributed towards space culture and folklore by becoming the first artist to send a painting directly into space.
Jisbar collaborated with a team of physicists, engineers, and mathematicians to create a bespoke, emission-free vessel designed to lift his painting, Space Lisa, upwards of 120,000 feet above sea level via hydrogen-filled air balloon, the result of several months of planning.
Space Lisa is a contemporary reinterpretation of Da Vinci’s masterpiece with the classic subject adorned in a studded leather jacket with a nose ring, pink hair, and a mohawk. This playful rendition acts as a tribute toward counterculture and punk rock ideology. The painting touches on themes of consumerism, environmentalism, and the, perhaps erroneous, proclamations of modern day freedom. There are also subtle references towards Warhol and Basquiat, a show of appreciation for their legendary contributions to modern art.
In June of 2021, Jisbar will be adventuring towards space for a second time and to accomplish another historic milestone: this time, in teamwork with SEEN HAUS, he will be sending the very first NFT-backed painting into space.
Space NFT is a portrait of renowned digital artist Beeple, depicted with the reflection of the galaxy on the lenses of his eyeglasses. The overlapping space motifs, imagery of rocket ships, and references towards “going to the moon” are particularly fitting, as those ideals resonate with the cryptocurrency community at large. Appropriate callbacks towards crypto culture such as the Alien Cryptopunk, the $DOGE shiba inu, and Bitcoin hero Elon Musk are welcome nods of respect towards the loyal crypto community. With blue skies in the background, Space NFT expresses a hopeful and optimistic reaction towards the future of technology and cryptocurrencies in particular.
These two pieces are archetypes of Jisbar’s distinctive, easily recognizable style; a delicate balance of pop art and street art. Somewhat appropriately, his works resemble planets orbiting around the sun. Typically, Jisbar takes a central figure — usually, but not always based on a classical work of art — and surrounds them with ostensibly impulsive imagery.
This is likely due to Jisbar’s free-flowing and spontaneous creative process and workflow; he doesn’t plan the imagery surrounding his subjects beforehand, nor is the connection always readily apparent. His process can best be described as a stream of consciousness, with the auxiliary drawings loosely connected by common themes to create an overall message for the subject.
His works and ideas are often dependent on his current mood, offering a fleeting sense of the immediacy of his mind. Even the music he’s playing — he is a fan of hip hop and rock music — will have a significant effect on the tone of his work.
By contrast, the logistics team that was tasked with sending the painting into space required precision, structure, and organization. Meteorologists were hired to carefully examine weather and wind conditions for both the launch and the retrieval.
Aided by his team of physicists, Jisbar was required to adjust his traditional techniques — typically acrylic and aerosol cans on canvas — to create a piece that could withstand the atmospheric pressure and the rapid changes in altitude and acceleration. Wood, rather than cotton or linen canvases, to start. As for the paint itself, Jisbar borrowed techniques from the automobile industry: a base of industrial steel paint with a mixture of acrylic and PVC to create a more durable material and several coats of varnish to seal and protect the chemical composition of the substrate. The teamwork needed to successfully send a painting into space is a collaboration of the truest definition.
The launch, expected to span 90 minutes, will be livestreamed for viewers with a front-facing camera attached to the spacecraft filming the painting as it completes its journey.
“The sky above will show the black vacuum of space, and the planet’s curvature will be seen below, accompanied by the thin blue glow of our atmosphere on the horizon,” Jisbar said. “There couldn’t be a more spectacular gallery in which to display a work of art.”
Upon return, the 40cm x 50cm painting will be subdivided into forty individual segments, each with a dedicated QR code that is linked to an NFT on the blockchain. The pieces will be sold in an auction setting on SEEN HAUS. Each piece will be serial-numbered and will be customizable with a hand-written 14 character message from Jisbar. After several months in the works, the space launch is predestined to be a milestone in NFT history.
Due to take place over the course of 3 days, the auction starts on Tuesday, May 18th with 13 tiles being up for auction per day.
Title: Jisbar — Space NFT
Edition: 1 of 1, 40 individual tiles
Date: Tuesday May 18 till Thursday May 20
Time: 15:00 EST
exclusively on seen.haus