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The Urban Canvas of Ch=mpathy's iskwtr

Three test iterations of iskwtr

iskwtr by Ed (Ch=mpathy) is scheduled for release in collaboration with Atelier on December 4th, 2023, on fx(hash). It is part of the Atelier group show, Outliers. The article traces the artist's path from his first project, delves into his wellsprings of inspiration, uncovers his artistic methodology, and provides a glimpse into his upcoming series. Through a series of conversations, the artist articulates how art has been a catalyst for transformation in his life, serving as a driving force for change.


First Impression

My initial encounter with Ed's (Ch=mpathy) art was through his piece Lilies. I approached it without any prior knowledge of his work, and it was his first release on fxhash. The series struck me as refined, both aesthetically and technically, especially considering it was his first foray into generative art. Several months later, when the Atelier team had the opportunity of conversing with Ed, we learned that the 25-year-old mechanical engineer from Manila meticulously assembles elements in each of his projects as if they were integral pieces of a larger puzzle he intends to solve (or create). He begins by sketching the artboard in his physical sketchbook, with each element representing a polygon in the complex geometry of the final composition. This deliberate approach to composition results in neat, well-balanced representative works of art.

Preparatory sketches for iskwtr

Artistic Evolution

Ed has traversed a wide array of genres in digital art and began his journey on hic et nunc. Driven by a desire to incorporate storytelling into his artworks, he conceived a universe featuring anime-inspired characters derived from the periodic table of elements, which he aptly named “Ch=mpathy.” This portmanteau of "Chemistry" as inspiration and "empathy," according to Ed, aimed to capture "emotions, feelings, and situations.". The work gained recognition with people taking interest in the lore behind the characters Ed had crafted.

Inside the Flask, an artwork to commemorate the first year anniversary of Ch=mpathy

During our conversation about "Ch=mpathy," Ed shared his modest beginnings and how financial challenges once affected his family, forcing them to live in a house vulnerable to flooding. The success of "Ch=mpathy" enabled Ed to move to a new home in a safer area, free from the worries of seasonal flooding. We found ourselves emotionally stirred by the contrasting facets of information we were absorbing, and felt genuinely delighted for the sincere individual who firmly believes that art has profoundly transformed his life.

Generative Lilies

Ed's love for art blossomed during his engineering studies, and he began practicing digital art aided by tools like photoshop and pen tablets. It wasn't until 2023 that he stumbled upon video lessons in generative art by the beloved Daniel Schiffman, that he started coding in p5.js. Ed shared that he currently works in his ideal studio setup, complete with dual monitors, situated next to a window overlooking a pond and trees. While he once cherished this view, a recent trip to Singapore introduced him to refreshing landscapes featuring water lilies. This experience served as the inspiration for Ed's inaugural generative series, Lilies, coded in p5.js. In Ed’s words, the series is "crafted through relative coordinates, ratio, and primitive shapes… (with lilies) nestled beneath the tree's canopy, akin to an impressionistic painting along a riverbank." In our conversations, Ed shared with us his strong affinity for Impressionism; for its naturalistic qualities, its simplicity leading to a form that is not forced.

Preview image of Ed's first fxhash project, Lilies

A Deeply Personal Project

Ed's daily practice routine begins with sketching around ten poses each morning, with a particular focus on line drawings. This practice laid the foundation for his upcoming series, iskwtr. Depicting a densely populated urban settlement, iskwtr showcases rows of houses cascading over a hill. Each iteration of this composition features meticulously crafted elements, both large and small, contributing to the narratives unfolding within snapshots of life in this settlement. Elements such as trees, streetlights, people walking their pets, electric poles, and clotheslines pepper the landscape, adding complexity to the final image and leaving viewers to marvel at the achievement of such a cohesive output.

Test iteration of iskwtr

The inspiration for iskwtr and its name comes from the local pronunciation of the word "squatter," referring to informal settlers. In a country where over 4% of the population lives in makeshift houses called "barong-barong" on unused land, Ed perceives the beauty in the collective expression and cohesion of these settlements. Each piece becomes a narrative, a juxtaposition of raw survival with the bold strokes of communal expression. It is his belief that this journey belongs not only to the artist but also to the viewers.

Squatter settlements in Manila, Philippines

Artistic Maturity Beyond His Years

According to Ed, iskwtr transcends the visual; it serves as a dialogue on the socio-cultural layers of urban life. In this context, beauty emerges unexpectedly in the most unlikely places, painted with a palette that reflects resilience and communal vibrancy. However, Ed doesn't aim to elicit specific reactions or emotions through his work. Rather, he shifts the responsibility to the viewer to interpret his storytelling.

In response to a thought-provoking question from Atelier, Ed offered a deep insight into his emotional connection with his work. When asked, "If your art could make a sound, what would it sound like?" Ed's answer was simple yet profound: “it would make the sound of a heartbeat."


Release information:

iskwtr on fx(hash) Ch=mpathy x Atelier

on 12/4/2023 at 17:30 CET

120 editions


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