The Revenant, 2024

Select unique works, 512 x 512px, GIF

The Revenant: Sovereign Portraits for a Faceless Future is a slowly growing series of 475+ animated works by Travis LeRoy Southworth. This collection delves into the themes of identity, resurgence, and the enduring nature of bitcoin and digital art amidst a backdrop of repeated dismissals and skepticism.

Be A Currency, 2024, 512px, GIF, Metadata: Underground Economist, Why Bitcoin can’t be a currency, January 15th, 2010, Bitcoin Price: $0.23
The word ‘revenant’ refers to something that has returned after death or an extended absence. Southworth leverages this metaphor to reflect the perseverance of the bitcoin blockchain, which, despite being frequently dismissed as worthless by various media outlets, continues to thrive. By early 2024, bitcoin was proclaimed 'dead' around 475 times. Each of Southworth’s artworks bears a title sourced from fragments of dialogues and headlines that prematurely announced bitcoin's downfall. Southworth transforms these narratives, reinterpreting them as affirmations, questions and ambiguous statements. For example, a headline by the Underground Economist in 2010 reading "Why Bitcoin can't be a currency" is reimagined as "Be A Currency," acknowledging the fluctuating nature of perception and value, and a responsiveness to technological evolution and societal shifts.

Drawing inspiration from his engagement with machine learning technologies since 2018, Southworth utilizes synthetic photography (A.I. text-to-image prompting) to craft the portraits that symbolize a future where identities are ambiguous and fluid. These portraits are set against a vague, cloud-like milieu, embodying both the universal and the anonymous. Shrouded in a thick, swirling mist, they resist easy recognition, mirroring the enigmatic character of digital identities and the fleeting attention given to cryptocurrencies.

In this evolving narrative, Southworth has chosen to render The Revenant as a collection of bitmap GIFs, each using only two colors, to further deepen the dialogue between the origins of digital art and blockchain. This decision is a deliberate nod to the binary nature of computing – where information exists in a state of zero or one. The choice of using GIFs, a format deeply entrenched in the digital culture, echoes a continual cycle of death and rebirth.

AI generated anonymous portraits for bitmap GIFs

The Revenant will be inscribed on the bitcoin blockchain in early 2024. More details to follow.