October 2021 ––
Participating in a fabled Sotheby’s auction has always been a dream of Munky’s; literally one of those unattainable goals that you set but are convinced will never be achieved (those are healthy goals). So when he got a call from Steve Aoki’s team asking him to participate in the Sotheby’s Metaverse Natively Digital 1.2 auction under Aoki’s curation, it was truly one of the highlights of 2021. The auction served as an immersive destination for digital art, offering a curated selection of NFTs, the collectors shining a spotlight on the people who have championed digital artists and contributed to the space. ND1.2 was the first sale in the Sotheby’s Metaverse, consisting of 53 lots of culturally significant art from the vaults of 19 collectors. 

Curator Steve Aoki, a collector of GMUNK, sees him as an important figure now and in the future: “GMUNK is an icon in the space. He represents a rich digital culture that has been building for years. His ability to seamlessly blend traditional photography and videography with digital art creates stunning images that draw me in. I think it’s important that we highlight artists like him as the space grows.” 

The Film

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Artist: GMUNK (b. 1975)
Title: Penumbra
Type: born-digital, single-channel digital video
00:00:54 seconds (3840 x 2160 pixels)
Auctioneer: Sotheby’s Metaverse
Curator: Steve Aoki
Collector: Pranksy
Price Realized: $28,000
Executed in 2021. This work is unique and is accompanied by a non-fungible token.

Lot Essay

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Penumbra takes a brave step into the endless obsidian desert, the waterless sea of the cosmos in which all that is present and precious is dust.

Here we witness a lunar coup and a hostile takeover of illumination. An excessive copulation between light and dark where each one, by virtue of being eclipsed, is empowered - the shadows are dug deeper, the light is made more searing, and infinitely opposing portals are launched. It is an obscuration of the original markings of an order that sought meaning in their circles of ceremony, and divinity in the spheres that hovered above them.

Both bodies are antagonists and protectors of each other at the same time. The celestial iris, constant, an inky sphere on which every point is the center of that universe, provokes a refraction of perspectives - are we moving ahead, or is all moving ahead while we remain still? Subject to the variation in mood and temper, adrift and steady at the same time, wavering and rusting away, precise and unclarified so that balance, here in the world of paradox, is simply a matter of perspective. Axis upon axis, thundering one on top of the other with no place in time.
–– 02

The Process

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The subliminal stimulation of an eclipse has always been an obsession; there’s a spiritual activation associated with such a profound cosmic event that had to be tapped into. What Munko focused on was the moment inside the volume of the eclipse, the Penumbra being the shadow cast by the celestial body, and if projected by volumetric light, formed an almost coccoon of sorts.

That moment inside the shadow and the associated feeling was the definition of the art – and every detail of visual and sound design led the viewer to that moment inside, rendering an opportunity to reflect on themselves and their place in this cosmic space.

The piece was shot practically with a circle dolly, anamorphic glass and stacks of spherical squeeze diopters. Creating and filming an eclipse practically allowed greater control over the physicality of the light and shadow, and a realism that would’ve been very difficult to achieve in cgi or any synthetic manner. 
–– 03

Director, Digital Artist

for Sotheby’s Metaverse
Credit List

Digital Artist: GMUNK
Director: GMUNK
Assistant Director: Derek Jaeschke
Executive Producer: Adam Baskin
Producer: Max Knies
Cinematographer: Joe Picard
Lighting: Matt Ardine
Choreography: Kitty Mcnamee
Movement: Lisa Sainvil
Color Grade: Billy Hobson
Composer: Keith Ruggiero