Michael Connolly Named on The Lumen Prize’s Longlist
No one has accused Art Blocks or our community of being impartial. We unapologetically support the artists on our platform and sing their praises to anyone that cares to listen. But it’s always a special day when other organizations recognize their hard work. This month, Michael Connolly was longlisted in the Lumen Prize’s still image category for his Art Blocks project, Elementals.
The Lumen Prize is a global competition that started in 2012 to find and support artists pushing the bounds of art and blurring the lines of technology. Since 2012, the Lumen Prize has given away more than $80,000 in prizes to artists and creates opportunities through the Lumen Art Projects.
The Artists Behind the Machine
Michael sat down with Jeff Davis for a Q&A before his drop on Art Blocks that covered his background, so I followed up to get his thoughts about making the Longlist this year.
1) Can you tell me a little about your journey to the award?
I’ve been aware of the Lumen Prize for years, but this is the first time I’ve submitted work. I submitted the whole Elementals project — explaining the concept of on-chain generative art as part of the submission. The judges will have considered the entire project rather than a single output.
2) Why do you think the work resonated with the judges?
I think the outputs stand on their own, but when you combine the visuals with how they were produced and start to understand the significance of the pieces being 100% on-chain, I think that could be what got the judges’ attention. I may be wrong, though!
3) What does this award mean to you?
It’s really nice. I sort of ‘pivoted’ to full-time artist last Summer from doing more commercial work, so to see my name on the Longlist was a surprise. There are artists and studios on the current Longlist that I have admired for a long time, so it’s kind of surreal to see my name up there.
More than anything, it feels like another step on the path to wider acceptance and awareness of the beauty and potential of generative art. Moreover, I see it as a win for the whole Art Blocks community — the project wouldn’t have existed without it.
4) Which artists or studios stand out to you from this year or previous years?
- Christian Loclair’s piece Helin from last year — AI / GAN sculpture
- Richard Vijgen’s piece Hertzian Landscapes from last year
- Casey Reas (yes, that Reas!) & Jan St Werner Compressed Cinema from last year
This year it’s Universal Everything and Brendan Dawes — both residing in the North of England like myself. I’ve followed UE since I was studying, and they’ve always been super forward-thinking in their approach. Brendan just does his own thing, and I applaud him for it. He also contributed a library to Processing which I have used in the past.
Also, Treu by Fuse*!
There are so many it’s hard to list them!
5) What can we expect to see next?
I have another on-chain generative project in the pipeline. I’m also working on some video synthesis based work with an electronic musician (still and moving image). In terms of AB drops, I’m looking to bring motion/interactivity into my next piece; I have a few ideas flying around. I have a background in motion and animation, which I’m keen to explore again.
A (very) Brief History
Carla Rapoport started the Lumen Prize in 2012 to create more exposure and opportunities for digital artists. Digital art has a rich history — ever since artists could tinker with computers, they’ve been creating digital art in some form. Carla recognized that most institutions are hesitant to accept and display digital art, yet this evolution in the artistic medium is hugely consequential in the digital age.
Since 2012, Lumen Prize has recognized some of the most influential digital artists and carved out space for underrepresented groups to engage with the broader art community. The Global South award is focused on finding digital art talent in Africa, Latin America, and developing economies in Asia. They’ve also created the Nordic Award for artists from Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark.
Beyond finding digital art talent across the globe, Carla created the Lumen Art Projects to translate recognition into opportunity. The Lumen Art Project curates exhibits, organizes events, and commissions work by the recipients of the Lumen Prize.
Michael Connolly being included in this year’s list is a testament to the quality of work on the Art Blocks platform and the artists we work with. So congratulations again to Michael, and we cannot wait to see what you create next.