In Conversation With... Philip Colbert, Lobster Land
The first in a series of artist and gallery profiles in the lead up to Art Week 2021
Often referred to as the ‘godson of Andy Warhol’, London-based Philip Colbert has created a global following for his cartoon lobster persona and his masterful hyper pop history paintings. He has been championed as a contemporary pop master by art world figures such as Charles Saatchi & Simon De Pury. In this Q&A with the Decentraland Foundation, Philip talks about bringing his incredible Lobster Land experience to Art Week.
Hey Philip, can you describe the Lobster Land experience for us?
Lobster Land is my digital art world and home of my Lobster persona which I’ve been developing over the past few years. I was inspired by the opportunities new digital technology has created to make a more immersive and interactive art experience. I believe that creating a new phenomenon of artistic experience pushes the boundaries for what art can become. For me art is about building a world and a language, so the metaverse makes this literally possible. It’s also been amazing to work with Vegas City on the project. Lobsteropolis is located on 57 land parcels within the Vegas City district. It was the perfect location in Decentraland for my world, and James Ashton the CEO and his team have shown great creative vision and have been a huge help bringing the project to reality.
What can visitors to Lobster Land at Decentraland Art Week expect?
It’s a lobster pop fantasy! It’s a full recreation of my Lobster Land Desert, with the city of Lobsteropolis sprawling out from the centre where the Lobster Land Museum is. The museum show was curated by Simon De Pury. The world itself was very inspired by Joshua Tree in California, with a twist of hyper pop social media cartoon world mixed with Ancient Greek antiquity ruins. I love the fact that by bringing my world to Decentraland it makes it globally accessible and pushes the possibilities for what it can become. In addition to the museum show with SuperRare, I have a record label called Lobster Land Records where new wave legend Devo will be performing a DJ set. I also collaborated with Devo on a series of NFT digital artworks. There is also a casino, a bank for lobster coins, the supermarket called Lobster Mart, and a live concert/event venue called the Lobster Lounge. I am also in the process of building the Lobster University where I will soon be offering Lobster Philosophy Grants for Academic Lobster Research.
I love the democratic spirit of Decentraland – that anyone can engage and create an artistic voice. If art is an expression of human freedom, then it seems very possible that the world’s most profound and cutting edge art would all be in the metaverse.
What’s your experience of Decentraland been like as you’ve been developing Lobster Land for the community?
It’s an amazing platform, and it’s constantly developing. I can see a future where everyone has an avatar persona, and the American dream will be reborn for avatars.
Who are some of the digital artists that interest you the most? Or are there ‘physical world’ artists that you feel should make the leap across to the metaverse?
The first NFT I bought was from an artist called Darren Bader. His work is super interesting. I have also always been a fan of the brilliant Nam June Paik. I just had a show alongside his works in Seoul at the Sejong Museum of Art. I also always loved Paul McCarthy’s video performance video, ‘Painter’. Performance/video art is such an important part of what art is today, and NFT’s have given an accessible platform to the medium.
A user wanders into Decentraland in 10 years time. What virtual experience will you have created for them (no restrictions on tech)?
They could visit the vast Lobster University Library, with its many architectural additions, then go to see a Lobster Symphony. Then from the Lobster Space Station they lift off into Lobster Land outer space where a hybrid of real and imaginary lobster gods would play a far-off relative of mind chess and set them environmental real world challenges, and then pass on infinite wisdom where new worlds would be built in the realization of infinite possibilities.
Why is the virtual social world of Decentraland important for digital art?
For me the context of digital experience is the key to creating new possibilities for art. With the rise in NFTs and digital art in general, it seems to me logical that the digital world around it should evolve and inspire. I believe the possibility of individual interaction and self actualization within the social world of Decentraland heightens the creative and intellectual engagement of ideas.
How would you like the Decentraland Art Precinct – and Decentraland as a destination for digital art generally – to evolve in the coming years?
I think the global interaction of people from all cultures is super interesting, and will be an amazing melting pot for new artistic dialogue. I love the democratic spirit of Decentraland – that anyone can engage and create an artistic voice. If art is an expression of human freedom, then it seems very possible that the world’s most profound and cutting edge art would all be in the metaverse.
Visit the event listing for Philip Colbert’s Lobster Land experience at Art Week, and stay tuned for more profiles in the coming days and weeks.