Serendipitous Liquidators are an experimental art duo, Aaron Juarez and Kosmas Giannoutakis, who both share a passion for exploring the intersection of theory and aesthetics through their shared practice. They seek to engage in the digital medium fluidly through films, live coding, games, and installations. Their performances highlight remix, improvisation, and serendipity in unexpected audio-visual manifestations. Aaron Juarez is an interdisciplinary artist-researcher playing with digital structures. He employs disjunctive strategies between art and science to engage serendipity through experimental interactions of digital media, including photography, film, 3d models, analog printing and performance through live coding visuals. Kosmas Giannoutakis is a computer musician and researcher focusing on the theoretical and technical affordances of Distributed Ledger Technology in conjunction with alternative modes of collaborative musicking. His musical activities include studies in piano and percussion performance, composition, and computer music in Greece, Germany, and Austria, and presentations and awards of his works at various international festivals and conferences. Both are Ph.D. candidates in Electronic Arts at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy New York.
The art world still carries many rigid segmentarities that have been formed by former hegemonic territorialities. The concept of the artist itself (genius artist, brand artist) and the fixity of the artwork are two prominent identities that are indispensable as commodities in the current art market. With hydrolysis, translating literally as dissolution by water, we propose several approaches that can liquefy such identities by experimenting with digital materials fluidly and flexibly, thereby allowing potential for novel, serendipitous encounters.
In the ocean of the information age, digital environments facilitate interactions that cause us to reflect on how we access and engage with information. Not only are we gravely concerned with the accuracy or truth of information, but we are also concerned about echo chambers and filter bubbles that insulate us from alternative perspectives that can challenge us and help us develop a more informed view. To address this, we emphasize serendipity as a goal and an overflow feature of hydrolysis. As an ethic, serendipity acts to expose interactors to a diversity of perspectives so that individuals encounter novel and meaningful information. We encourage and seek to bring about serendipity through disjunctive strategies, ambiguity, remix, and glitch. By no means is this list exhaustive, yet we can begin to characterize our process of hydrolysis.
Disjunctive strategies refer to generative methodologies that can render spontaneous results. This can be achieved through the combination of disparate perspectives or by playing with juxtapositions to consider different configurations. This strategy is critical in that it paradoxically proffers that spontaneity can emerge via deliberate methodology, challenging the nature of the accident and highlighting how experimentation with concepts and materials can generate unexpected results.
Perceiving uncertainty from the art or design experience impels people to develop their own interpretations. By problematizing normalized perspectives and not imposing solutions, the work allows individuals to build meaning and develop a deeper appreciation for the challenging experience that is offered. Through pithy insights to render ambiguity we are encouraged to push both the conceptualization of projects as well as the experience of the audience. The nature of ambiguity opens the potential for serendipity to occur as both researchers and audience reflect on the experience of an artwork.
While creative individuality and novel approaches are always valued, building and iterating upon available knowledge and material is an important strategy in both research and art. This strategy is ubiquitous in the comprehensive concept of the remix, generally known as the act of combining pre-existing media to create a new work. By sharing, taking up, and playing with available materials, we advocate values adjacent to open-source such as open collaboration, contributionism, and transindividuality. Although remix might be criticized as ‘derivative,’ we argue that remix has the potential to produce novelty through new emergent meaning contained within the interbody fluid, which holds a multitude of possible configurations.
Glitch is an excellent strategy to find serendipity and can connect with the aforementioned techniques. Both glitch and serendipity resonate with the experience of the unexpected. Both remix and glitch are difficult to define as they encapsulate their process and the resulting artifact. Furthermore, glitch processes often render ambiguity in the defamiliarization they manifest. Glitch is slippery and disrupts flows of information, causing ruptures to known structures and boundaries. Sharing the inclination with hydrophilic agents who desire and partake in dissolution, the glitch enables a transformative mode that reveals hidden potentials and helps us break beyond boundaries into new realms of knowledge and meaning-making.
Overall, these methods allow individuals to engage in explorative avenues and value unexpected results. Each technique can contribute to the experience of novelty and adds to the metaphorical increase of temperature and velocity, liquefying the digital materials encountered and further transforming them into new materials available for experimentation.
Some compromised versions of these hydrolytic strategies are known in the current landscape of art, especially in practices that partake in the status quo (individual artist, fixed artwork). Our proposal entails a highly intensified, waterlogged version of these strategies capable of dissolving such rigidities. The assimilation of such strategies in decentralized software infrastructures is a prospect toward achieving that result. Projects that are not overwhelmed by tendencies that are either positivistic (as is the case with DeFi) or negativistic (in the case with cancel culture) but balanced through collaboration, negotiation, and coordination between engineering, artistic, sociological, financial, and governmental agencies, are more likely to achieve a post-capitalist mode of liquid art production.
A more concrete roadmap is a focality on blockchain-based autopoetic art projects. These life-like creatures blur the boundaries between artwork, artist, audience, producer, curator, and exhibition/virtual space in radical and unprecedented ways. In such organismic environments, genuine curiosity, experimentality, audacity, and play can flourish, bringing serendipitous aesthetic manifestations of diverse post-human actualities. We emphasize that re-monstrations are invaluable for guiding the production of epistemologies, norms, and materialities. Elevating the principles of glitch, remix, ambiguity, and disjunctive strategies, cultural hydrolysis can be facilitated by the spontaneous increase of temperature, velocity, and volume interchange.
The dangers of monstrous liquidity should not be ignored but seriously addressed, as these environments can be utilized for the proliferation of treacherous sentiments and ideologies like fascism. Such occurrences have already been observed in the semi-liquid environments of social media and the blogosphere with the hyperpolarization of political discourse. However, the thirst for liquefaction should not be suppressed and the mitigated risk of searching for an emancipatory post-capitalist future should be taken. Hydrolysism should not be equated with unconditional deterritorialization but seen as a techno-dis-solutionist approach that seeks to design balanced viscosity levels and organic composition for the cultural planetary currents.