Haydiroket: Breathing Life into Pixels through GIF Art

Mert Keskin aka Haydiroket, is an Istanbul-based artist and curator who has been making GIFs since the early days of Tumblr in 2008.

From the early days of Tumblr to the modern era of NFTs, Haydiroket’s body of work, viewed over 15.4 billion times on Giphy alone, exemplifies both his individual skill and the evolution of GIF artistry in the digital art scene.

Unfolding Haydiroket’s Artistic Journey: From ’90s Demoscene to Present

From his early engagements with Demoscene groups in the mid-90s to his collaborations with global brands including MTV, Ferragamo, Converse, and Puma, Haydiroket’s artistic journey is marked by relentless exploration and innovation.

Born and raised in Istanbul, Haydiroket’s interest in computer arts and music dates back to his childhood. It was in 2008, however, that his artistry found its ultimate expression: GIFs. Within a short period of time, his innate talent for the medium was seen, with Tumblr acknowledging his skills and inviting him to become a GIF editor.

His artistic evolution is not linear; it is an intricate web of changes and adaptations to the digital world’s ebbs and flows.

Embracing the opportunity to transform his digital art into unique, blockchain-based assets, Haydiroket minted his first piece, “Point”, on Hic et Nunc in April 2021, officially marking his foray into the Tezos art scene.

A number of leading art venues have displayed his work to date, including The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. 

90s Nostalgia and Digital Evolution: The Distinct Aesthetic of Haydiroket’s Art

Infused with the imagery of ’90s computers, video games, and Windows interfaces, Haydiroket’s work speaks to a generation that grew up immersed in these technologies.

Every piece explores the shortcomings of technology, reflecting on the debris created by the virtual worlds we inhabit and the data we produce. Yet, they also bear witness to technology’s progress, documenting its uplifting evolution from the ’90s to the present day.

Haydiroket’s artistry is a ‘totally RAD’ blend of various techniques – collage animation, glitch aesthetics, pixel art, and analog video. His style is fluid, refusing to adhere to a single form, instead embracing constant transformation through his preferred medium, GIF, which encapsulates his love for motion and vibrant color and brings his vision to life.

In terms of process and technique, Haydiroket utilizes After Effects to create vibrant, digital masterpieces. In particular, his creative process is driven by a desire to explore the intersection of past and present, blending 90s technological imagery with modern digital techniques for a result that speaks to our shared digital heritage while also reflecting on our current digital culture.

One of his earliest minted pieces on Hic et Nunc is “1v3v1v3v”, densely packed with references to computer culture — including PETSCII, a code that could bring digital graphics to life — along with pop culture references such as the Grim Reaper.

His works follow the flow of his rich imagination with color and motion, with “11 disket” ultimately embodying this flow, as a 90’s animated floppy disk takes our memories back to the motions of our iconic Windows screensavers and application glitches.

A flow, that reflects starting with a random idea and following it through to the end combined with collage animation, glitch aesthetics, pixel art and analog videos just like in “Mega Turbo City Cyber Hacker 420.0”.

For the most part, his works represent a sort of time machine for him to look back on over time; a prime example is the piece “GHS” which becomes a sort of time machine itself as it combines visual techniques that highlight videotapes from the 90s with present crypto-cultural references like “GM.” 

Haydiroket: Capturing the Digital Zeitgeist through Nostalgia and Innovation

Haydiroket’s talent lies in his ability to distill the zeitgeist into his work, transforming his art into a reflective lens focused on our relationship with technology and the ceaseless progression of digital evolution.

His work blends nostalgia with innovation in a way that truly epitomizes his artistic ethos — bee it a GIF, collage animation, pixel art, or analog video, each piece is not just a creation but a profound exploration of this philosophy; a tangible manifestation of the artist’s personal history and his forward-looking vision.

In the end, it is his refusal to tether himself to a single style, combined with his unrelenting quest for innovation, that keeps his art vital, compelling, and perpetually evolving. 

Founded in 2021, Fakewhale advocates the digital art market's evolution. Viewing NFT technology as a container for art, and leveraging the expansive scope of digital culture, Fakewhale strives to shape a new ecosystem in which art and technology become the starting point, rather than the final destination.

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