Cyberangels, Rembrandt and King Charles III
Grandfather of NFTs
Cyberangels from Israel Honor King Charles III
American-Israeli digital artist Mel Alexenberg launched his Rembrandt-Inspired Cyberangels of Peace on a virtual flight from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem through the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. He tells the story here:
I created this visual narrative artwork combining image and text to honor King Charles III. The main image augmenting this text are Rembrandt-inspired cyberangels in virtual flight. They are based upon my pioneering digital fine art prints that are in the collections of thirty museums throughout the world.
The image in this narrative begins with a virtual flight of cyberangels from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the site where millennia ago angels in Jacob’s dream went up and down a ladder.
They arrive at the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam when I am in the great master’s studio in period garb sending my cyberangels on a virtual flight to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London to bring good wishes to King Charles from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. King Charles III is the first British monarch to be descended from two children of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
My cyberangel artworks are in the collections of these museums in Jerusalem, Amsterdam and London. The cyberangels that have been asleep in the flat files of the museums for three decades are coming alive, morphing into cryptoangels taking flight through NFTs’ virtual skies.
Artwork in Collection of Victoria and Albert Museum
My “Digital Homage to Rembrandt” serigraph has been in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum since 1986. I created and printed it at Pratt Institute where I was head of the art department.
The official opening by Queen Victoria of a museum for progress in art and design in 1857 was followed by her laying the foundation stone of its new building in 1899 and naming it Victoria & Albert Museum.
King Charles’s mother Queen Elizabeth participated in the opening of the “World of the Bible” exhibition at V&A in 1965 in co-operation with the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem and “The Bible in British Art” in 1997 with a poster for the exhibition showing angels ascending and descending on a ladder. This poster joined my computer generated serigraph in the V&A prints and drawings collection.
Coronation Oil from the Mount of Olives in Israel
In the tradition of the British royal family, the coronation throne rests on a stone on which Jacob rested his head as he dreamed of angels ascending and descending. It became the stone under the throne of King David in Jerusalem three millennia ago that has found its way to the Coronation Throne at Westminster Abbey in London in 2023.
On an emotional visit to Israel in 2016, Prince Charles travelled to Israel for the funeral of Shimon Peres, the President of Israel. While there, he visited the grave of his grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, who saved Jews during the Holocaust and was honored as Righteous among the Nations. She is buried in Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
The Archbishop of Canterbury explained, "Since beginning the planning for the coronation, my desire has been for a new Coronation Oil to be prepared using olive oil from the Mount of Olives. This demonstrates the deep historic link between the Coronation, the Bible and the Holy Land."
The current President of Israel, Isaac Herzog and his wife, Michal, represented Israel at the coronation. It was Herzog’s third meeting with Charles since becoming president in 2021. At the royal reception at Buckingham Palace for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, he discussed Britain’s long relationship with Israel and his family. His father was an officer in the British army and his grandfather, Israel’s first chief rabbi, was British.
Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mervis, who was knighted by King Charles last year, and his wife, Valerie, were invited to sleep Friday night at the Royal Palace to allow them to walk to Westminster Abbey and for the rabbi to participate in the coronation ceremony without desecrating the Sabbath.
Envision my cyberangels in the Victoria & Albert Museum descending on Jacob’s ladder to Jerusalem to hear King David sitting on his throne playing a lyre as he sings a sweet song to bring blessings of goodness to King Charles III as the royal crown is placed on his head as in Psalm 21.
Art is a Computer Angel
This narrative begins with the birth of cyberangels when I was in synagogue listening to the ancient Hebrew words being chanted from a handwritten Torah scroll while translating them into English in my mind. It described the artist Bezalel as being talented in all types of craftsmanship to make artworks” (Exodus 35:33). The Hebrew words for “visual art” literally mean “thoughtful craft,” a feminine term. When I transformed it into its masculine form, it became “computer angel.”
I rushed to tell my wife Miriam that I discovered that my role as a male artist is to create computer angels! I was equipped to create them since I was research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies, and head of the art department at Pratt Institute where I taught the first course on creating art with computers.
Rembrandt was the master at telling Bible stories with angels in his paintings, drawings, and etchings. He created artworks based on the verse: “A ladder was standing on the ground, its top reaching up towards heaven as angels were going up and down on it.” (Genesis 28:12)
The angels in Jacob’s dream go up from the Land of Israel and go down throughout the world heralding a message of peace: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)
Two weeks before I discovered that art is a computer angel, my son Rabbi Ron Alexenberg, who was archivist at Rav Kook’s House in Jerusalem, sent me a copy of an interview of Rav Kook, Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel, in the Sept.1935 London Jewish Chronicle.
He said that when he lived in London, he would visit the National Gallery, and his favorite pictures were those of Rembrandt. When God created the intense light of the first day of creation, he reserved it for the righteous men when the Messiah would come.
“But now and then there were great men who are blessed and privileged to see it. I think Rembrandt was one of them, and the light in his pictures is the very light that was originally created by God Almighty.”
In Jerusalem, I created a serigraph “Angels Ascending from the Land of Israel” showing Rembrandt inspired cyberangels ascending from a satellite image of Israel. It is in the collection of the Israel Museum.
Cybererangels Fly around the Globe
My cyberangel first flew from Amsterdam to Jerusalem in my AT&T sponsored telecommunications art event on October 4, 1989 to honor Rembrandt on the 320th anniversary of his death. I launched a digitized image of his angel on a circumglobal flight from New York to the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam, Israel Museum in Jerusalem, University of the Arts in Tokyo, Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and back New York. After a five-hour flight around the planet, the deconstructed angel was reconstructed at its starting point.
When it passed through Tokyo, it was already the morning of October 5th. When it arrived in Los Angeles, it was still October 4th. Cyberangels can not only fly around the globe, they can fly into tomorrow and back into yesterday. Millions watching TV saw the cyberangel’s return from its circumglobal flight. It was featured in sixty newspapers and the AT&T annual report.
Postdigtial Narrative Art
The story that I tell here “Cyberangels from Israel Honor King Charles III” coupled with the image linking Israel Museum to Rembrandt House Museum to Victoria & Albert Museum, and with the pioneering cyberangels fine art prints that I created.
Narrative plays a prominent role in the postdigital art of Web3 and NFTs. In my book, The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age (Intellect Books/University of Chicago Press), the word “narrative” appears fifty times, from art narrative, autobiographic, biblical, community, creative, data-driven, historical, to personal narrative.
I have been exploring visual narrative art in many of my artworks that can be seen at my website Mel Alexenberg and at Wikipedia. I also created an Artiststory blog in 2007 with the 2011 post Postdigital Narrative Art.
I partnered with Michael Bielicky, professor of digital media art at ZKM University of Arts and Design in Karlsruhe, in establishing the Institute for Postdigital Narrative at ZKM in 2010. The video of my talk at the inauguration of the Institute can be seen at Vimeo. The statement of the Institute’s aims are even more relevant today than they were over a decade ago. “Mankind has always operated on narrative to explain and understand its own existence. Our times, in particular, call for the exploration, expression and especially, creation of new story-telling formats."
My Fine art prints coupled with NFTs present unprecedented opportunities for generating creative postdigital narratives. They are being realized here in making the visual and text documentation of the coronation of King Charles III available as artworks of a historic event that last occurred seventy years ago.