Patrick Tresset: “I thought that I could put back emotions using computers”

Pau Waelder

Patrick Tresset is an artist who explores a form of mediated creation in which his drawing style is transferred to a set of robotic drawing machines or applied to video footage to create artworks that are curiously algorithmic and spontaneous at the same time. He is also the co-founder of alterHEN, an eco-friendly NFT platform and artist community whose artists have participated in a previous artcast on Niio. Tresset has also presented his series Human Study in a solo artcast launched recently.

I had the chance to interview him in his studio in Brussels on the occasion of my visit to the Art Brussels to discuss his work and the series that originated from an exhibition in Hong Kong that he had to remotely orchestrate during lockdown.

After working as a painter for fifteen years, you decided to study arts and computational technologies. What drove you to become interested in computer science and programming?

Well, actually, I was already interested in computing, because my dad gave me a computer when I was nine years old, and as a kid, I managed to do some little things, and I got fascinated by it. I particularly remember this possibility of creating little worlds that would be autonomous. I studied computing, but back then it was business computing. And after that, I decided to become a painter, move to London… I think I was a painter for thirteen years. And in the meantime, computing evolved a lot. So I always kept my eye on it, and after some time I got back into computing. So it was not new, computing. And I had this intuition that I could do something with it, because I knew I could program. I could imagine things. 

As a painter, I had a creative block. It just didn’t make sense to continue painting. And also I had lost my spontaneity, everything I did in painting looked stiff, and unemotional. I couldn’t do emotion. Strangely enough, I thought that I could put back emotions using computers. I was always into doing those very spontaneous drawings, and so as soon as I got back into programming, I worked on drawing faces, from the beginning, and then there was the internet. Thanks what I found online, I kept learning and I came across the Algorists: Roman Verotsko, Cohen… well, Cohen is not part of the Algorists, so Verotsko, essentially. And I saw they were using pen plotters. So I bought myself old pen plotters on eBay. And I started to do drawings like that. I wrote those out on my own for two or three years, using scientific libraries and other resources. But I felt that I was stuck, and I knew that I needed to go further to achieve what I was looking for.

You have mentioned that you transfer your drawing style to the robots. Can you elaborate on this mediated process?

When I was doing my Masters studies, I was working on simulated drawings, and it’s only during the doctoral studies (I started a PhD that I never finished) that I did proper research. It’s a risky thing in computing, but mainly, we’re learning drawing, psychology, perception and things like that… motor control, and all those things. I really researched a lot. And all that influenced the program. But also at this time, I understood that a drawing system needed to be embodied, particularly since I was interested in gestural drawing. So the way I did it was that I simulated different processes that interact, with parts dedicated to low level perception, then higher level motor control, and strategy. 

The style of the drawing has never been forced. The style is a consequence of the characteristics of the robot. If you just change little parameter on in, or on the camera, or the speed of the app, that will be enough to give the resulting drawing a different style. So it’s really an interaction between the body, the character and the characteristics of the robot. My input is in there in that the technique that they have is a technique I used when I was trying to draw. There is detachment in a certain way, but it’s not so detached, because I am in the system –I programmed everything myself. 

So there is this weird thing with control, because in the beginning I have control, but then when the robots start, I don’t have any control. And that leads to an interesting form of spontaneity. For me it’s always fresh, but the problem is, because it is using humans, not everybody’s a performer. A lot of people do it for the portrait, and then during the process, they notice that it is not just a machine that makes their portrait. Here I feel that there is the usual problem of entertainment and art. That does not happen with the still life drawings, because the whole system is encapsulated in itself. It’s a different type of storytelling.

For about a year, you have created a new type of artwork by applying the drawing program to video footage. What led you to use this technique? Particularly since you were just mentioned the embodied creation of the drawings.

It all came about because of NFTs. I needed something digital to sell, to mint. And it started like that. I did some experiments a few years back with video, so I already had some ideas but it really came to be through NFTs. I wrote a program to extract a big interface over the program I use for the robots, that enables me to play with and create these animations. It was by necessity. But in the end, I explore the same themes, only that now I know better what I’m exploring.

Let’s talk about the exhibition Human Study you had in Hong Kong, back in 2020. I find it interesting how it was developed under lockdown, and how the animations that you have now presented on Niio reflect that particular atmosphere.

Yes, it was a very interesting process. The exhibition was planned normally during Art Basel Hong Kong, but obviously it didn’t happen because of COVID. They moved it to November, but still they didn’t get the authorization to open the theater. So, it was decided to carry out the exhibition without an audience, using actors or anyone who was around, so sometimes it was the technical staff and not actors. To me it was particularly interesting because I helped select the actresses and the actors, so it became something like a piece of theater. I had created a generative system to edit the video feed from the cameras, so while I was doing everything from thousands of kilometers away, I became the director of a performance.

The art industry in times of COVID-19

By Steven Sacks, director of bitforms gallery

The art world was particularly hard hit since the onset of Covid. Artists, galleries and museums all needed to drastically adjust to a new world. Public spaces were shuttered, thus most artist’s shows were cancelled, leaving them disenfranchised and unmotivated to produce new work. Collectors were too distracted and concerned about their health and family to support the arts. No Basel. No Frieze. No fairs to view art, gather and socialize. Sans art fairs left many small and medium sized galleries with a massive deficit in their income.

A still from the virtual version of the exhibit “Disembodied Behaviors

In my 20 years as a gallerist I have never seen anything like it. Virtual and digital initiatives became a necessity to stay relevant and survive. The art fairs attempted to create online platforms, but most were novice and ineffectual. They were basically glorified web sites, nothing original or engaging. Since my gallery is very experienced in new media and online realms we were able to adapt and produce a range of online exhibitions that received favorable press, but sales were still a challenge. Virtual platforms such as Mozilla Hubs and New Art City provided us novel ways to present exhibitions and interact with visitors. We had a solo show with Siebren Versteeg that was embedded entirely in an email. For one of our group shows, Tree of Life, we worked with 2 artists to curate and build a unique website which was the only way to view the exhibition. 

Claudia Hart, The Ruins, 2020
Three-channel video animation (color, sound), three screens or projectors, media players, speakersץ Screen size variable, Ed 3, 1 AP

Offering video artworks became a desirable option during the pandemic. Using video art distribution platforms such as NIIO I was able to curate shows online and present them to collectors and curators. We shared the actual video artworks in high resolution, maintaining the integrity of the art vs. exhibiting low quality representations of 2D works in a poorly designed web site. 

Daniel Canogar, Loom, 2020
Generative animation (color, silent), computer, screen. Dimensions variable, portrait orientation. Edition of 7, 1 AP

Although this past year has seen unprecedented challenges, many artists and galleries have deepened their connection to new media and virtual environments. This new knowledge will permanently be embedded in both artist’s practice and future gallery programming– better preparing us all for the next challenge that arises. 

Digital Innovation in Art Award: Shortlist Announced

Niio is proud to announce to be among the nominees for the Digital Innovation in Art Award 2019, at the Investor Allstars in London. Investor Allstars is crowned as the “Oscars” for the entrepreneurship and investor communities.

The Digital Innovation In Art Award recognises a company or individual in the art industry that has used digital technology or the internet to disrupt and innovate within their field.

We congratulate our fellow shortlisted nominees. Stay tuned via our Instagram account to find out who wins on October 3rd! 

The Finalists

Steve Miller – ARTERNAL

Steve Miller is one of .ART’s first adopters, showcasing his artwork in versatile mediums at He is also a co-founder of ARTERNAL, a CRM software which assists art galleries in efficiently consolidating multiple platforms.

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Longping Derek Zhao – ARTEXB

Longping Derek Zhao founded ARTEXB inspired by the creation of Google Arts & Culture. It is a project supported by the medium of 360° panoramic VR, which aims to systematically document Chinese contemporary art exhibitions around the world.

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Jason Bailey – Artnome

Artnome is the blog of Jason Bailey, who self-identifies as an “art nerd” trying to trigger an art analytics revolution by building the world’s largest analytical database of known works across our most important artists.

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Vivi Kallinikou – ArtRabbit Ltd 

ArtRabbit is a unique guide to the contemporary art scene, connecting thousands of artspaces, exhibitions and events to artists, art professionals, collectors, students and art-interested people alike.

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Eugene Bogorad – ArtWalls

Over the past twenty years Eugene has been in senior positions in computer programming, technology and big data. An amateur photographer himself, he realized that bringing online and offline together could create the right kind of synergy. ArtWalls is a platform for bringing aspiring creators and art connoisseurs together, in public spaces and online.

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Justin Anthony – Artwork Archive

Artwork Archive is an innovative art business management software brand based in Denver, CO. Its cloud-based art database system offers a wide range of easy to use tools, including inventory and contact management, sales reports and expense tracking.

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Rob Anders – Niio

Niio is reimagining the way humans interact with art in their everyday lives. Underpinned by a robust technology platform that powers the entire ‘digital art’ ecosystem with dedicated management tools, Niio has amassed a global community of 3,500 leading artists, galleries and institutions who have stored and published over 11,000 high quality digital format artworks. Niio can then ‘port’ this gallery-quality digital art onto any screen, anywhere – unlocking an entirely new form of consumption: streaming digital art via subscription or purchase. 

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Jonathan Beck – Scan the World

Jonathan Beck is the founder of an online cultural heritage project Scan the World, an initiative that archives objects of cultural significance using 3D scanning technologies. Since its inception in 2014, the platform has created over 16,000 downloadable artefacts and received over 60 million views to its page.

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Mike LaTour – Soundwave Art™

Mike LaTour spent 17 years in the music industry before he became President & CEO Soundwave Art™. The app allows a unique experience of converting your own sounds into customisable works of art and jewellery.

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Joel Kremer – The Kremer Museum

Ex-Googler Joel Kremer is the director of The Kremer Museum, a VR museum which hosts an Old Masters collection of about 75 works collected over the years by Joel’s parents George and Ilone Kremer.

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Marco Cappellini – VirtuItaly

Marco Cappellini is the founder of VirtuItaly, a project that creates edutainment experiences with art through digital technologies, both with immersive and interactive digital exhibitions.

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Aretha Campbell – Bridgeman Images

Bridgeman Images works with museums, galleries, collections and artists to provide a central resource of fine art and archive footage for reproduction to creative professionals.The Bridgeman Artists’ Copyright Service is a service to artists and their estates to administer their copyright and sell reproduction licenses for their work.

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A Conversation With Kelani Nichole of Brooklyn’s TRANSFER Gallery (Part 2)

We are big fans of Brooklyn based TRANSFER. Gallery founder/director Kelani Nichole, started the exhibition space nearly four years ago in order to support and and cultivate artists with computer-based practices. Get to know Kelani:


What are the biggest challenges you face dealing in a digital medium both as a gallerist and as a curator?

Technical details aside, I’d say the biggest challenge currently facing the market for media-based artworks is around preservation and documentation of the artists’ intent.  Much of the work I deal with is software-dependent, ephemeral, or online public artwork, so preserving the larger context and supporting platforms becomes the major consideration when appreciating these works.  Just as any traditional format of artwork, new forms of media require restoration and care, and have the added complexity of authentication.

What are the biggest challenges in collecting digital art?

Preservation and authentication are the two biggest challenges to growing a secondary market for these artworks.  Additionally, the body of criticism is still developing – the artworld is warming up to how to talk about these works, and successful institutional displays are somewhat few and far between.

I’m very keen to explore new methods of authentication. The current standard for authentication is a signed certificate, often accompanied by a digital still, editioned media storage device/object or other accompanying physical ephemera.  In the near future I believe digital transfer of ownership will become more prevalent, as new standards emerge. 

How do you think a platform like Niio will affect the medium of digital art?

I think Niio has solved some of the challenges related to displaying these works. I’m particularly interested in the workflows and collaboration points of the software between collectors, curators, galleries / institutions, agents and artists and believe a method of seamless exchange is an important step to making the work more accessible.  

You’ve said that this year all the shows you’re staging at TRANSFER feature only women artists.  Why is a series like that important to you?

I dedicated 2016 to showing new works from the studios of women, all of them experimental in their format and looking to test new ideas from the studio at TRANSFER.  Gender balance was a hot topic in the artworld last year, a group of women working with new forms of performance and media were featured in ‘Women on the Verge’ in artforum.  

This article crystallized a movement I had started to engage with during ‘gURLs’ a night of performance at TRANSFER  in 2013, and have been tracking ever since.  I found this article inspiring, and saw a timely opportunity to deepen my own understanding of the ways in which women are pushing into new forms of performance, installation and time-based media unlocking new opportunities for technology that are emotional and deeply human.

Carla Gannis launched my 2016 program, introducing a new body of 4K video works of self portraiture, a continuation of a year-long performative drawing project.  Claudia Hart’s large-scale media installation was extended through the summer at TRANSFER.  Next I’ll launch Angela Washko’s first video game artwork in September, followed by a new body of work from Morehshin Allahyari in the fall.

Read Part 1 of our interview With Kelani.

Claudia Hart


Carla Gannis

A Conversation With Kelani Nichole of Brooklyn’s TRANSFER Gallery (Part 1)

Kelani Nichole, Founder/Director of Brooklyn based TRANSFER Gallery, started the exhibition space nearly four years ago in order to support and cultivate artists with computer-based practices through solo exhibitions, events and international art fairs.

She’s passionate about nurturing and growing the digital art market via exposure and education and has taken the time to share some of her insights, challenges and hopes for this fascinating medium.  Get to know Kelani. 

Kelani Nichole
Kelani Nichole, Founder/Curator, TRANSFER Gallery

What led to your interest in digital art, specifically computer-based work?

I studied Art History at university and in 2010  joined a curatorial collective in Philadelphia.  As I planned my first exhibition it seemed natural to engage with studios practicing online.  I gravitated toward the avant garde online movement loosely referred to as ‘net art’ and I was hooked.

Over the years, my curatorial specialty has developed along with these studios and I am happy to have a hand in evolving the means of support for artists working with distributed online art practices.

What inspired you to open a physical gallery space dedicated exclusively to digital art?

Opening the gallery was an experiment – I wanted to continue working with the studios I supported in my early curatorial projects.  An article from Claire Bishop in Artforum late in 2012 titled ‘The Digital Divide’ was influential in my resolve to further develop these works through exhibition format in the gallery.

The idea was to focus on solo exhibitions featuring new, challenging work coming from the studio that didn’t have another venue to be realized. The roster of artists was strong right out of the gate and the market came knocking on our door.  

What do you believe are the biggest misconceptions about digital art and what would you like people to understand?

The biggest misconception with ‘digital art’ is that it’s any different than other means of contemporary artmaking. I’m keen to stop using the word ‘digital’ to talk about these practices.  One of the biggest challenges to the appreciation of these emerging formats is our lack of vocabulary to discuss these practices and their implications on the institutions of the artworld.  The practices I support are contemporary art practices that have a fundamentally computer-based process – the works that come from the studios are an even split of moving images/software pieces and physical objects.  

The genres of practice are moving image, photography, sculpture, performance, time-based media, glitch, procedural animation, algorithmic art, installation with a heavy conceptual slant present in my program. I’m specifically interested in Internet aesthetic, distributed art objects, the public space of the Internet, and emerging display technologies such as VR/AR and high-definition 4K formats.  I am working to build a new market for animated GIF artworks, distributed public artworks and application based artworks.

How or where do you see the medium of digital art in 5 years?  Do you see a time when digital art is considered mainstream?

Yes. I believe it is nearly there.  However, there is a grey area in the visual landscape we live in, a world flooded with creators and curators. I believe the art world is still struggling to address these practices and figure out meaningful ways to adapt and contextualize the explosion of creative authorship in our contemporary moment within the canon of art history.

What do you think about all the hype surrounding VR?  Do you think it’s a tool that artists will widely embrace?

Yes. Absolutely.  If you haven’t used HTC Vive go do it immediately.  Go, and you won’t even ask that question anymore. Our world is rapidly virtualizing and I hope artists will deeply engage with VR to help ensure this technology develops with criticality and humanness.  I actively support VR/AR practices and believe this is the future for much of our human experience.

Carla Gannis
‘Garden of Emoji Delight’ by Carla Gannis displayed via Niio.

NYC TRANSFER Gallery + Niio @ Minnesota Street Project (SF)

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Summer in the City

We are big fans of Brooklyn based TRANSFER. Gallery founder/director Kelani Nichole, started the exhibition space nearly four years ago in order to support and and cultivate artists with computer-based practices through solo exhibitions, events and international art fairs.

This summer, Kelani and TRANSFER have migrated west, installing an outpost inside San Francisco’s brand new, highly anticipated, Minnesota Street Project.

TRANSFER DOWNLOAD @ Minnesota Street Outpost

The TRANSFER Download

Installed as a series of hyperlinked solo exhibitions,  ‘TRANSFER Download’ invites artists to present custom three-channel solo presentations of moving image. Each work is accessible via a playlist, creating a layered salon-style exhibition format first tested during Art Basel Miami in 2014. Selecting an artwork from the control screen changes over the entire installation space to feature a single work – formats include time-based narrative, generative 3D video, and looped moving images. 


We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Kelani and TRANSFER during their debut at Minnesota Street. Niio, via its cloud platform + video player (4K/60fps) + remote control app,  will power a dedicated 4K 65″ single-channel screen featuring a collection of artworks from the gallery’s inventory which will give collectors an opportunity to take the Niio technology for a test drive while discovering new works of art.

Garden of Emoji Delights by Carla Gannis
Photo Credit: Kelani Nichole Instagram: “New toy from @niioart – upload on website, watch in 4K ??? @carlagannis ‘The Garden of Emoji Delights’ looks stunning ?”.

 Featured Artists Include:

Claudia Hart – ‘Empire’
Mary Ann Strandell – ‘Tromploi’
Rosa Menkman – ‘DCT’: Syphoning’
Phillip David Sterns – ‘Polar Visions 002’
Rick Silva – ‘Vibes Accelerationist’
Rollin Leonard – ‘Spinning Pinwheel of Death’
Laturbo Avedon – ‘Pardon Our Dust’

Check Out the Show:

July 30th – September 8th, 2016 in San Francisco

Minnesota Street Project
1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA
Open Tuesday – Saturday from 11am-6PM and by Invitation

Learn more about the Minnesota Street Project.