Meet the artist: Alan Abrahams

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Today we are presenting one artist that has a particularly interesting career - he started to work on his visual art journey starting from his passion for music and live performance. The one very crucial aspect of Alan is also his passion for the new up and coming NFT technology that we value at Artsted as one of the most important revolutions within the art market. Portable also taught himself how to create 3D animations so he could merge film, music and tech into something meaningful for his personal journey as an artist.

Alan Abrahams AKA Portable or Bodycode in the studio working on his NFTs | courtesy of the artist

What was your first step in becoming an artist?

I have been a composer of African electronic music for 21 years under the  pseudonym  Portable also known as  Bodycode, performing live across the globe and have just released my 8th studio album My sentient shadow with the French label Circus company. In 2014 I started making music videos to accompany my releases, the first of which for a track called Surrender which went on to becoming a cult hit being named best new track  on Pitchfork and the video amongst  the top three videos of the year on inverted audio.

This planted the seeds for my visual art journey. I started making abstract videos as background images for my live performances , which later evolved into short art films and video poems, accompanied by my compositions. I started submitting to art film festivals only from the past year. They were officially selected for the Athens digital art festival, the Make art not War, Absurb, Session by Lift-off Global Network and  London Art film festival.This further motivated me to continue in this direction since I was still including my skills as a composer but within a visual framework. I’ve always had a love for film, video art and 3D animation, and as a teenager I was pretty much a video game addict - so I always had the propensity for technology and the windows it opens into possible futures. I then decided to take my artistic practice further and taught myself 3D animation via various tutorial programs online. In this way I have been able to incorporate all my passions of film, music and technology into one co-hearsive whole.

Alan Abrahams, Pitstop | available here on Artsted

How do you define yourself in the creative industry?
I am a composer, film maker and visual artist. As a composer I am using electronic music with elements of jazz, classical and African textures. As a filmmaker I film in cinematic widescreen to reflect my lifelong fascination with film and its manufacturing process. I’ve achieved this cinematic texture by using vintage Russian lenses, a modern DSLR camera, and an anamorphic adapter. This results in a  2.39.1 aspect ratio, anamorphic widescreen.
As a 3D artist I am scanning environments in our physical world and then transforming them in the virtual world, distorting their original purpose. And then using them as a kind of set in my 3D scene, contributing towards the narrative.

What is indispensable while working in your studio?
I work to recordings of the ocean. I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa and lived in Lisbon, Portugal for some years and find ocean sounds stimulates my creative energy.
My work always involves music, so my midi controllers, synthesisers, keyboards, guitar etc are vital. Away from my studio my camera and vintage lenses and anamorphic adapter hardly leave my side. And last but not least my computer on which I bring all these elements together is crucial.

Extract from Stranded, an NFT created by Abrahams on Artsted availble here

Who are your favorite artists and who are the ones that built your creative imaginery?
Bill Viola must be one of my earliest influences, I had seen one of he’s works in London, where I lived for ten years, and it made an enormous impact on me. I really tap into his idea that as filmmakers we give structure to time.
Sonia Sanchez is a poet laureate of the city of Philadelphia and her poems dealing with racial inequality resonate with me as an artist living in Europe, since I grew up in an Apartheid South Africa I quickly realised that everything changes but in a way still stays the same.
Clinton Jones aka Pwnisher is one of my newer sources of inspiration. I latched onto his idea of finding narrative within a 3D animated scene.
They are artists that have one thing in common for me and that is that they make one feel something. That’s the driving force on why I compose music, transform environments or make film. Emotion is the one thing that bonds us as a human race.

The artist in the process of filming content for his visual art journey | courtesy of the artist

Now that we are almost out of this pandemic, what are you planning next for your career?
The pandemic opened a window in my normally packed schedule of touring and live performance, so the touring will restart, but with that also opportunities to film and scan different cities and natural sites around Europe, the US and South and Central America are on the cards. I am really looking forward to that and to absorb these new influences into my work. I will further my research on how to find ways to intergrate traditional film art with digital art and the promise of the NFTs format for the future.

What is your relationship with social media and how do you use them?
Time is my most valuable asset, so I try to limit my online time, but in saying that platforms like Instagram is an excellent way for me to test new directions, and have instant feedback on pieces I am working on.

Written by
Anna Frattini