AB INFINITE 1 @Times Square, NY

June 21, 2022
An extraordinary vision by one of the world’s leading NFT artists, AB Infinite 1 is Andrea Bonaceto’s magnum opus. Displayed in Times Square, New York and more recently at W1 Curates on London’s Oxford Street, this digital interactive tapestry represents a pioneering collaboration between artist and viewer. Describing the piece as ‘my most profound work so far’, Bonaceto offers a snapshot of his life and the cycle of culture, giving form to the journey ‘ab infinite’ (‘from infinity’ in Latin, and a pun on his initials) to its origin—symbolised by the number 1. By way of a specially designed artificial intelligence mechanism, viewers of the work have been able to contribute to its appearance, using the hashtag #abinfinite1 on Instagram and Twitter. Images uploaded under the hashtag are translated with Bonaceto’s bespoke AI technology, thereafter incorporated within the work’s distinct visual vocabulary. Through the same process, any text posted under the hashtag becomes part of an evolving poem displayed within the work, reminiscent of a modern stream of consciousness built in the footsteps of James Joyce's Ulysses. While the NFT is currently ‘mutable’—able to be altered by the audience—Bonaceto will cease this capability after its purchase, freezing it as a record of its time. It will then be up to the collector whether to reactivate it on future occasions.

Born in Pisa, Italy, in 1989 and raised in the Tuscan coastal town of Viareggio, Bonaceto has risen to prominence both as a contemporary artist and as a leading figure in the blockchain space. He is the Co-Founder of Aorist, a next generation cultural institution supporting a climate-forward NFT marketplace for artists working at the edge of art and technology. The present work was created and minted on Algorand, widely considered to be one of the world’s most environmentally-friendly, decentralised and secure blockchains. Bonaceto’s custom-built AI image generator uses PyTorch, OpenAI, VQGAN and DeepAI to produce stylistic responses to the images uploaded by the public to social media: the programme was ‘trained’ using a number of the artist’s pre-existing works, royalty-free images and a selected colour palette taken directly from AB Infinite 1. This experimental technology represents a new user-friendly form of AI that does not require input from a software specialist or coder. During its installation on Oxford Street, viewers were able to see the artwork on 36 high-resolution screens, granting them unprecedented access to the creative process.

The democratising power of AB Infinite 1 lies at the heart of Bonaceto’s agenda. ‘Through compassion and love we need to come together as a community and become one entity’, he explains. ‘… I consider this artwork as permanently unfinished, as I hope there will always be someone in the future who wants to be part of it together with me.’ While references to artists such as Kandinsky and Picasso are embedded in the work’s surface, its real-time participation element aligns it more closely with aspects of performance and conceptual art, conjuring precedents ranging from Michelangelo Pistoletto’s ‘Mirror Paintings’ to Marina Abramovic’s use of Mixed Reality. More broadly, it be seen to extend the legacy of art forms that have sought to document the multiplicity of human existence: from Alighiero Boetti’s Mappe and Tutti, to ancient Chinese scrolls and medieval tapestries, to the meditative, life-long practices of artists such as On Kawara and Roman Opalka. At once personal and universal in its scope, it is a thrilling record of human time, and the images and words with which we choose to fill it.

Bonaceto explains that, for him, 'art is defined as the honest attempt to truly be yourself. AB Infinite 1 is encouraging the audience to start this trajectory, as we are moving towards a society where most jobs will be automated by AI and robotics. In that society, we can’t identify ourselves anymore with the jobs we have. As the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa said in his poem "The Tobacco Shop":

When I went to take off the mask,
It was stuck to my face.
When I got it off and saw myself in the mirror,
I had already grown old.

AB Infinite 1 is my attempt to take off that mask with the hope that others will follow. The ultimate aim is to sublimate art, and with new eyes operate in the field of redefining society embracing new technologies and organisations like blockchain, DAOs, AI, robotics and more. A world where technology is at the service of humans, that can now effectively monetise the data they produce hence have more time to understand who they truly are and being themselves.'