and the ROOM goes to…
GiselxFlorez Won the Genesis M○C△ROOM; She Tells Us Why
100 years from now, when the Crypto Art movement is being cataloged and recollected, Gisel Florez’ figure will undoubtedly appear enormous within it. The innovative photographic artist, co-founder of Women of Crypto Art (WoCA), and celebrated Crypto Art patron has already cemented herself in the movement’s legacy numerous times, but she may have done so again with her acquisition of the very first M○C△ ROOM.
On February 1st, after 11 bids over the course of 24 hours, Gisel Florez won a bidding war with artist Han for the Genesis ROOM/FLOOR NFTs, a monumental moment for the Museum of Crypto Art, and for the Crypto Art itself. ROOM and FLOOR are the next evolution of the Museum, a revolution in how we collectively interact with the Metaverse, how we share and show our art, and how we gather together to celebrate Crypto Art.
We sat down with Florez to discuss what it meant for her to acquire this first-ever M○C△ ROOM, how serendipity drew her to the concept, and what she envisions these ROOMs being used for: artistry, community, and pushing every artistic boundary forward.
(This interview has been condensed and edited, yes, but vetted and approved by Ms. Florez herself. The unedited, unabridged video interview is available at the bottom of this interview. Sorry about my hair. -Max)
Max: First and foremost, I wanted to congratulate you on the ROOM acquisition. We obviously think this is a huge deal, and the purchase historic, and that this first ROOM is going to have really far-reaching genesis implications. So what motivated you to get into this auction in the first place?
Florez: Well, I always follow my inner message, and a series of synchronicities were going on. I had heard about FLOOR, I had heard about the project, and I was very curious because I had just had an experience with Arium right before hearing about this, and was thinking how ROOMs could be put into multiple virtual worlds, which I have already. I have a place in Crypto Voxels with WoCA, we have a place in Decentraland, and I have a place in Sandbox that I won way back when I started.
I had just ended up selling a DrifterShoots piece [Where my Vans Go], which happened just a few days prior…I had to work on my finances a little bit, and so I left it up to fate, gave it three days to see if it sells. And then, who picks it up? World of Women! I mean I couldn’t believe that it sold to them! What a great place for it to go. I’ve always been a speaker for trying to get women involved, feeling like they need to have a voice in this space. That’s the whole reason I came together with a few other friends that helped launch WoCA. We all came together with the need for having a space for women, to show what we can do, that we have a voice and can become a force to be reckoned with!
The inclusion of all people is something that I’ve always been looking for in this space because when I came in, there was a very narrow thinking of certain collectors, and areas that I felt were very pigeon-holed. I was coming in as a photographer. I had worked digitally for a long time… This was before there were cell phone cameras and all the quality you can get now with a digital SLR. So, it’s kind of always been my path, this transition of film vs. digital, of helping the past transition to the new.
In college, I had my first taste of what it was like to work in VR. I was able to connect with Brown university, and they had a VR projection room [The Cave]. This was around 2004. And I had only had one experience before that with VR around ’96 in Canada -–you had to wear a giant thing on your head, and I was a kid and it was the wildest thing ever, and it made me realize I wanted to be an artist, and to keep learning what this “digital world” is.
As for this opportunity with M○C△ I felt aligned, something that M○C△ always represents is inclusion. The last few years I’ve been watching them — what they collect and who they support — and everybody in the space is uplifted with their presence. And that’s one thing that made me want to support them as well with this purchase…It’s a place I really feel like is a great center hub for artists to go to. If they are entering, to find out the pieces that have come before, the people that have started the whole movement, that helped it form into what it is now.
A lot of what I’ve been working with on my art is about identity, about fingerprints, about your hand and what creates you (self). A lot of my journey is navigating my inner compass through a landscape of outer impermanence. Something that’s always been with me as an artist: “The macrocosm within the microcosm.” I find this translates clearly to our web3 space. It’s changing our understanding of quantities, value and time. All of these notions have completely shifted in our brains, and most people still can’t even grasp it. I can’t grasp it all either! And that’s why I make my art about it. I feel this is something we need to continue to focus on, challenging what’s possible. It’s an aspect I’d love to challenge in this virtual space.
A lot of things I keep thinking of is like, I think there’s 16 slots in the ROOM we got, and that to me is interesting because it could be divisible by four, and the directions, the compass, the directions of our trajectories physically, all the elements of the earth –-water, earth, fire, air. All of these things feel like they can be translated into a virtual world, to see what we can make, taking a small concept and see how grand it can be.
I’ve always wanted to transition the notions of what we think things are, what we can do with them, and how we can see ourselves in the worlds of our future. Being a woman in this moment in time, being able to purchase this ROOM because of what just happened to me a few days ago, I felt like I had to take the leap, and I had to see what could happen. And now I’m here, on this journey with you all and I can’t wait to learn more. I have full faith in the architect [UntitledXYZ] (who’s like a genius), and I’m just blown away by his creations. I can’t wait to see what kind of collaborative environment we can create for people to experience!
Max: When you were bidding on this ROOM, did you have a specific idea of an artistic sensibility you would have wanted to display, or that you were excited about having the ability to display?
Florez: No! No I tell you! This was so quick, this whole thing was so quick, and I really just go with what my gut tells me. We’re gonna see what happens!
Max: You spoke about finding a space for women in Crypto Art, and this will be a physical space for women to show their work or to gather or to be with each other.
Florez: Yes! It’s all for connection, you know? I’m not sure how this space would be structured, or how quickly it would be changed, or how often I could exhibit people’s works –-all of these answers will come to me as I learn more about what I can be offering for our space, for women, and for anybody who’s on the outskirts of what’s going on with mainstream.
Anybody who’s bringing something new to the space should be celebrated. I’ve just been speaking a lot with @theverseverse about bringing virtual connection into the space, having more gathering spaces where we can actually experience the hearing of voices, rather than just these Twitter chats and spaces. Expanding somewhere to feel more immersed and more connected. I keep remembering, last week I was just thinking so much about having attended the Nuyorican [A New York City poet’s café] in HS and how transformative it was for me to see and to be part of the feelings and the emotions coming out of the people. I think that we can get closer to that through these virtual worlds. I’d just been checking out Arium for that exact reason: For people to feel connected, to have a place to really access what we’re capable of. I’d love to be inspired by them, and to have, of course, shows and events, and really to see what’s possible with this thing, and how it can be received, and how we can grow with it.
Max: One of the things we envisioned with these ROOMS was that they wouldn’t just be exhibition spaces, but could grow into these community hubs. Is there a type of community you envision growing around a ROOM like this?
Florez: I feel like a community of interaction, of expressing each other’s differences, is needed so much in this world. I know it’s hard and I know most people find it so jarring, but that’s the beauty of who we are; it’s the beauty of being here! So to be able to embrace that within the community events we can make there…In audio and visual, and communal, you know? There’re so many unknowns, and I love exploring the unknown.
Max: We also wanted to get Crypto Art away from Twitter as its exclusive meeting place.
Florez: (Laughing) That is something I’d love, as a mission…it would be amazing. You know how everyone is always showing their works that are not selling [on Twitter]? Why not have a place where those unsold works could be quietly in these spaces, showing, for people to experience in a more personal and a more immersive level? I for one would love to see these things much bigger than the limitations of the window that these platforms will offer.
That’s been my biggest concern. A lot of my works, I’m all about zooming in, and my last Superrare was all about zooming in…and I know the work is great for me when I experience it in multiple levels. So, everybody’s art that’s been showing through the Twitter feeds is like a fraction of what could be experienced. And that’s what this space should be doing for everybody, this ROOM: They will give these works the time of day they deserve. We’ve been seeing [all this art] as a super quick, super small thing for so long, let’s see what happens once we can experience them.
Max: Off of that point, I’m often aware that I’m looking at Crypto Art pieces through the screen of my MacBook, which I think is often a bastardization of the art piece itself. Because they aren’t necessarily meant to all mimic paintings; some are sculptures, for instance, and others should be seen much more immersively, or blown up, and made to be physically huge. What excites me so much about the Metaverse is that it provides an opportunity for digital art to be seen more natively.
Or take art installations for example! Installation art doesn’t currently make sense in the Crypto Art landscape. And perhaps because of that, it’s so hard to explore wider, symbolic concepts, when we’re dealing with a diminished visual medium. How do you think the Metaverse itself might lead to an extension of Crypto Art’s possibilities?
Florez: The limitations of digital art in the gallery form is exactly what Twitter is to a Crypto Artist. Showing artworks in that way, it is diminishing the art, and that’s why [digital art] doesn’t work that well in gallery form, unless it’s like projection, or the whole wall has been dedicated to it. Because we can’t experience it in the physical world the same way. And I feel similar to what you said about installation works not working so well through the digital media…I think installation depends on the location and how it works in context with what you’re creating. Yet, if you have control of what that Metaverse would be, then your installation could be the whole thing!… And I think as we go more into the metaverse, digitally-native works will totally shine of course. Just the way installations work so well when you’re walking into them physically. It would be the same notion, or would translate in that way. So that’s how I think it would be opening doors.
Max: UntitledXYZ, who designs these ROOMs, has come up with a core concept of “Order” vs. “Chaos.” We wanted to challenge the idea of what architecture could be when you no longer have to worry about what architecture has always had to worry about on a practical level. What does it look like? Is it even the same thing? As a general overarching ROOM concept, Untitled is giving ROOM owners a choice between Order, a building which is very much like a real building (it might have doors, ceilings, walkways, made to mimic an IRL structure), and Chaos, where the ROOM owner is giving the architect free reign to push, poke, or breakdown these formerly absolutist architectural concepts. Do you have any inkling of what you might be more interested in?
Florez: It was that exact notion that had me bidding on this thing to begin with! I am really dying to see what happens with the Chaos. Of course I want to see the Chaos! I want to experience that Chaos! And push it and see what we can do with it, because it’s as you say, architects always have to work with gravity. What happens if its…ascension, you know? Or the opposite of gravity? (Laughing). We don’t have the Earth spinning in this virtual world so let’s see what it could be! Let’s find out!
Max: Knowing Untitled as I think I know him, he’s leaning more towards the Chaos element as well.
Florez: You can see it in his art! It’s like “Are you kidding!?” That’s the whole point! Seeing that he was the architect, and knowing that these choices were part of the experience, it felt right for me, so I’m ready to try it!