NFT of Cyberangel Flight from Amsterdam to Kyiv
I am sending Rembrandt inspired “Cyberangels of Peace” on a virtual flight from Rembrandt’s studio in Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam to the National Art Museum of Ukraine in Kyiv.
After having been sent on a flight around the world, my computer generated angels are back in the great master’s studio ready for me to launch their flight into the museum in Kyiv to bring a message of peace. Their flight will be documented as an NFT gifted by me as the artist to the National Art Museum of Ukraine.
An NFT (non-fungible token) is a non-interchangeable digital asset like my artwork that documents cyberangel flight through image and narrative. The ownership of an NFT is authenticated and stored on a database called a blockchain.
The “Cyberangels of Peace” image that I created for the NFT shows me in period garb next to Rembrandt’s etching press holding a cyberangel that I transformed from black and white to the Ukrainian flag’s colors of yellow and blue. I chose to have these cyberangels ascend into the Kyiv museum through a drawing of it on a Ukrainian postage stamp that represents the past hand delivered messages being transformed into future forms of Web3 technology that can instantaneously deliver messages of peace.
My Family in Ukraine Singing Angels of Peace
“May your coming be for peace, angels of peace. Bless me with peace, angels of peace.”
You could have heard more than a century ago, my grandparents Max and Leah Alexenberg and great-grandparents singing this song with their families gathered around the table set for the Sabbath meal every Friday night in Rivne, Ukraine.
“Peace Be Upon You” is a traditional song that I also sing at Sabbath meals with my wife Miriam and our family in Israel where angel flights began. We encounter angel flight in the biblical 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)
When Cyberangels Were Born
Cyberangels where born when I was listening to the ancient Hebrew words being chanted from a handwritten Torah scroll. 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 Miriam to tell her that I discovered that my role as a male artist is to create computer angels! I was equipped to create them as the head of the art department at Pratt Institute where I taught the first course on creating art with computers and was simultaneously research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies.
Since Rembrandt was the master at telling Bible stories with angels in his paintings, drawings, and etchings, Miriam and I went to The Metropolitan Museum of Art to see them. We enjoyed siting in the print room where we were given Rembrandt’s work with angels to see up close. The Met made photographs of them for me to digitize and create variations of them in different media that are in the collections of thirty museums worldwide. Today, my 1987 multimedia artwork “Jacob’s Dream” combining experimental etching, photoetching, and computer-generated etching is in the collection of The Met inhabiting the same print room as the Rembrandt originals.
When Peace Comes to Ukraine
After peace returns to the land where my ancestors sang of angels of peace, I plan to send as a gift to the National Art Museum of Ukraine my original 1986 lithograph of cyberangels Digital Tribute to Rembrandt that you see in my hands in Rembrandt’s studio. When the Ukrainian postal service will return to normal, I will send it air mail in a mailing tube with postage stamps from Israel from where angels ascend.
By having both the original physical artwork and NFT is becoming a current trend described in The New York Times article “NFT Collectors Getting Real.” It explained that NFT collectors are beginning to crave the context for their digital collections that art history can offer through physical artworks. My NFT coupled with the lithograph is a “phygital” artwork, a recently coined term to describe art experiences that create a dialogue between physical and digital art forms.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington added my lithograph to its collection as a historic exemplar of pioneering digital printmaking. The chairman of the Department of Social & Cultural History wrote: "It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge, on behalf of the National Museum of American History, the receipt of ‘Digitized Homage to Rembrandt’ presented to our Division of Graphic Arts. This lithograph from a computer-generated image is a most valuable addition to our collection."
The chairman of the Committee on Prints of the Museum of Modern Art in New York wrote: “The members of the committee were pleased to accept this computer-assisted etching of Rembrandt’s imagery. As an example of the innovative technological experimentation taking place at Pratt Graphic Center, it will be of great interest to students of the development of graphic techniques.”