Shavonne Wong: Not Even Sam Altman 'Is Exempt From Surveillance'

The artist made an NFT of the Worldcoin co-founder and OpenAI CEO for our Most Influential package.

AccessTimeIconDec 4, 2023 at 1:44 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 6:10 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconDec 4, 2023 at 1:44 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 6:10 p.m. UTC
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As part of our special NFT series, we asked the artist Shavonne Wong to make an image of Sam Altman, the OpenAI CEO and Worldcoin co-founder.

Click here to view and bid on the NFT created by Shavonne Wong. The auction will begin on Monday, 12/4 at 12p.m. ET and ends 24 hours after the first bid is placed. Holders of a Most Influential NFT will receive a Pro Pass ticket to Consensus 2024 in Austin, TX. To learn more about Consensus, click here.

We spoke with Shavonne about her work for the question and answer below.

1. Tell us about how/why you became an artist. Why do you choose to create NFTs?

My journey into the world of art was quite organic. Coming from a background in fashion and advertising photography, creativity has always been a part of me. However, it was during the COVID-19 pandemic that I made a significant pivot into 3D art. It was only later, when I discovered NFTs, that I fully embraced the role of an artist. NFTs provided an exciting avenue to create and share art in the digital age. The ability to connect with a global audience was particularly appealing and drew me into this new realm.

2. Talk about your artistic approach to creating an image for this year's Most Influential.

My focus for my piece was to convey a narrative about surveillance, a theme that resonates with the times we live in. I chose a direct visual language that everyone can understand, the imagery of being watched. The composition places the viewer inside a Worldcoin orb, which is a nod to the omnipresent eye of technology, and looks out at Sam Altman. It's stark, a little unsettling, but it's meant to be thought-provoking and start conversations about where technology is taking us.

(Shavonne Wong)

3. What aspects of Sam Altman's personality and profile did you want to emphasize, and why?

In portraying Sam Altman, I didn't want to just focus on his achievements or his status in the tech world. Instead, I wanted to reflect on the broader implications of his work. Altman's involvement in projects that deal with data and surveillance made him a perfect subject for this piece. By placing him in the center, scrutinized by the same technology he helps to create, I wanted to show that no one is exempt from surveillance—not even those who are behind it. It's a simple take on a complex issue, reminding us that our advances come with a set of eyes that are always open.

4. Who do you think are the most influential NFT artists today?

The realm of NFT art is brimming with influential artists who continuously push the boundaries of the medium, crafting breathtaking and innovative work. Personally, I admire artists like CyberYuyu, who leverages his art to champion inclusivity. Additionally, I find inspiration in the conceptual work of Mitchell F Chan, although I'm still in the process of delving deeper into the world of conceptual art and learning from it.

5. What was the most disruptive NFT project in history?

The NFT landscape is full with potential, especially as we move beyond the era marked by pioneers like Pak and Beeple. I'm most excited about what the next generation of digital artists will bring to the table, building upon the groundwork laid by these early trailblazers.

6. Describe your style in three words.

Emotional, ethereal and evocative.

Edited by Bradley Keoun.

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