Jenni Pasanen is a Renaissance Woman.
“Art has always been a central part of who I am. From the moment I could hold a pen, I’ve been exploring all sorts of artistic mediums — from acrylic painting to clay sculpting, sewing to animation, and from coding to 3D, to find my calling as an artist.”— Jenni Pasanen
When the internet became commonplace, she started taking digital art more seriously, using a Wacom tablet, and familiarizing herself with as many programs as possible. She studied and graduated as a graphic designer. She got a job as a designer and animator. And she stayed quite busy with her art outside of working hours with the dream to one day commit to her art full-time.
But she still felt something was missing in her practice, something she’d been chasing for years. She still hadn’t found it. In 2020 and 2021 she discovered NFTs and AI image creation respectively, and those two discoveries changed everything.
Having a rich experience with technology already behind her, she took to AI quite naturally, and her true artistic voice emerged in the process.
“I was mesmerized by the endless possibilities that the medium could offer, and it immediately resonated with me. I knew I had finally found my home in art.”— Jenni Pasanen
She combined her skills as a digital painter with the surprising outputs of her AI experiments to create the work she’d always dreamt of creating. Unlike many AI-wielding artists, the consistency of her vision and style from pre-AI to AI is striking.
She compares her workflow to a layered cake, moving from AI-generated images and shapes to Photoshop to twist, crop, edit, and digitally paint until she returns to Artbreeder to gather raw material before going back to Photoshop, and so on in a long process of iteration and refinement. In all cases, the machine is a muse and collaborator.
“A machine has no emotional limit on what it can create, which leads it to generate things that the human mind could never stumble across on its own. This medium forms the basis of my pieces and opens up my imagination to wilder paths. By combining art and machine learning, we can create something unprecedented and fascinating.”— Jenni Pasanen
Just over a year ago, when generating new images, she noticed shapes that reminded her of a bust with a distorted face. They haunted her. They followed her. She kept coming back to them. She’d fallen in love with their shape, movement, and texture. From there, the idea for the series started to build up: a series of beautiful Beings bound by nature and time.
The series became Mask Obscura, a collection of 16 unique pieces split into four smaller categories: Season, Element, Day, and Time.
The series leans on the idea that everything in nature is divisible by four, which also worked as Pasanen’s guideline to keep it from expanding to infinity. She generated over 300,000 images for the series, and from that, a small percentage were saved and combed through.
Even though the idea of fours functioned as a marvelous constraint, the generated images went through multiple iterations, evolving to become what it is today.
“Masks have existed since the Stone Age, and their symbolism varies through centuries and cultures. Their essential characteristic is to hide one’s identity and true emotions, only revealing what the mask maker has decided well ahead of time. Those wearing a mask of Nature and Time are welcome to sway in the razzmatazz of an infinite masquerade.”— Jenni Pasanen
The following series, displayed in toto, are organized into five categories: Day, Season, Element, Time, and Apocalypse.
The first four categories have a “host” (the eponymous pieces [e.g., Day, Season, Element, Time]). Each host is accompanied by four guests, for example, Day is joined at the masquerade by Morning, Noon, Evening, and Night. Each of these four categories thus holds five pieces each.
The final category, Apocalypse, comprises only four pieces: War, Conquest, Famine, and Death. Famine and Death will debut on October 6, 2023 for the final Drop of the Mask Obscura series.