Ryan’s Goodbye

Incoming_Transmission: After nearly 3 years of supporting LVCIDIA — first as a community member, then as a team member — my time with the company has come to an end. Today is my last day. I’m leaving by my own accord, to pursue a career in film and television. This amazing team has given me their full support. It was not an easy choice, but I know it was the right one. As I prepare to move on from the job that’s given me stability my entire adult life, I felt the best way to conclude my time at LVCIDIA would be a form of retrospective. A log of what came before, that might help inspire those who come after. Memories of my awakening experience.

ORIGINS

I first discovered NFTs in December 2020, when an artist I followed named BEEPLE was promoting his next big release. The technology fascinated me, as did Beeple’s always eye-catching work, but I balked at the one thousand dollar price tag. I mean, would anyone really be willing to pay that much for digital art? An open edition, no less? (Writer’s note: No, I did not buy any editions from that now historic release, and yes, it has haunted me for many sleepless nights after the fact). Well, live and learn. In the months that followed, my interest in NFTs developed into something more like an obsession.

February 2021 saw the release of the “FVCKRENDERVERSE//” on Nifty Gateway, which was paired with a downloadable Unreal Engine 4 environment Fvckrender had created. I hadn’t quite wrapped my head around the idea of ‘metaverses’ at the time of the drop, but after purchasing a SPIRIT_STONE// on the aftermarket a few weeks later, I figured it was about time to dive in.

What I discovered was a very thoughtful, unique way of exhibiting art.

Far from just being a backdrop to the work, the landscapes Fvckrender had created were as beautiful as the installations themselves. Each piece was re-contextualized as being part of a larger whole; monuments of an artist devoted to building something that lasts. I hadn’t seen anything else like it.

Early Fvckrenderverse Photo
Early FVCKRENDERVERSE// Photo, April 2021

Around this time, awareness of NFTs was hitting the mainstream. And within that discourse, there was a critique of the space I had seen come up repeatedly: that collectors were treating tokenized-art solely as investments. In other words, it seemed that most collectors weren’t making any genuine effort to engage with the artists or their work, instead focused on the value it might bring them on resale. I do feel this was an easy pitfall to stumble into, with the gambler’s paradise nature of it all. Even I felt like I was losing sight of what was really important at points. I didn’t want to become part of the problem.

Within the Fvckrenderverse, I saw an opportunity to try engaging with digital artwork on a deeper level. 

Day 3: Aurora//
Day 3: Aurora//

I joined Fvckrender’s Discord in March of 2021.

Intent on making an impact in the community, I decided to make the “#gallery” my home. It was a channel for people to post photos they had taken within the Fvckrenderverse, effectively a hub for in-game screenshots. I thought it was a fun idea: an invitation to reimagine an artist’s work, by capturing it from other perspectives in a 3D space. Maybe you’d gain a better understanding of the artist’s choices. Maybe you’d awaken to your own artistic sensibilities. Regardless of the result, the process seemed like it would be one of discovery. Surely, I thought, this has got to be one of the most popular channels on the server. 

Unfortunately, the gallery was dead. A ghost town. Only a few people had ever used it by the time I joined, and it seemed most others just weren’t all that interested in it. While disappointing, I saw potential in this. A chance to brand myself, to get noticed. I could be… the photo guy of the Discord. A title that I could wear with pride. Recognition that could open real doors in my career (the euphoria of the NFT space at that time truly did make it seem like anything was possible).

If anyone was going to rise to the top by photographing this virtual environment, I wanted it to be me. 

So, I started venturing in the Fvckrenderverse regularly. In search of unique angles, I’d do low-gravity parkour, exploit bugs, and endlessly experiment. My favorite shots from each session would get posted to the gallery, and soon afterwards, started getting serious attention from other members of the server. And by that, I mean there’d sometimes be 2, possibly even 3 emote reactions on my posts. Fvckrender liked the photos though, and encouraged me to continue my exploration as the Fvckrenderverse developed. 

The start of the gallery channnel, March 2021
The start of the gallery channnel, March 2021
Day 10: The Birth of Venus//
Day 10: The Birth of Venus//

In April 2021, a major update was released. New planets were added, new environments, and most notably: a camera tool allowing you to modify perspective, color, and light. Taking photos in-game was suddenly an entirely new experience. You weren’t just changing angles, you were completely altering the mood of the world. A few skilled community members started experimenting with the tool, producing great results. I quickly felt as though I was falling behind.

To make a real impact in the server, I realized I’d have to set my sights higher. A more ambitious project. 

That summer, I set a goal for myself: capture a stunning new photo of the FVCKRENDERVERSE// every single day, for 100 days. Taking inspiration from the ‘everyday’ artworks of 3D artists like Beeple, Stuz0r, and Fvckrender, the project seemed like it’d be a good creative exercise.

Not only would it help keep my imagination active — and give some semblance of routine to the quarantine days — it might also help others see the incredible potential this universe holds. So on May 2nd 2021, I debuted “Photos From the Fvckrenderverse: Hello//.

A series chronicling my days getting lost in this world Fvckrender had created. 

Day 1: Hello//
Day 1: Hello//

An important detail to note here is that I insisted on never making any alterations to the photos outside of the camera tool. I wanted to show how much could be done in-game, for free, and it also kept me from tinkering in Photoshop or Lightroom endlessly. Restrictions like time limitations, tools, and software strangely end up fueling a lot of creativity. There’s certain photos, like day 33 or day 85, that I don’t even think I could replicate if I tried. And I love that. To me, that says they’ll probably stand the test of time. Oftentimes bizarre accidents gave me shots I liked more than the ones I spent hours trying to get exactly right.

Day 53: Trapped//
Day 53: Trapped//

Ultimately my criteria for whether or not a particular photo was worth posting was just if it made me feel something, as that’s usually a good indicator of whether it’ll connect with someone else. I also never wanted to cannibalize myself; every photo had to be able to stand on its own. If I was photographing the same subject (which happened many times, with most of Fvckrender’s art pieces appearing 3-4 times each in the 100 days), I wanted the new photo to have a completely different feel.

It’s a testament to Fvckrender’s art that depending on how you look at each piece — the colors, the light, the mood — they have the power to take on many meanings.

Finally, day 100 arrived. The last week had some of my favorite pictures from the series, and a record high number of people responded to the final photo: Goodbye//. I felt accomplished. Satisfied. The Fvckrenderverse had become a place of comfort for me, a meditative escape from the general chaos of the NFT space. I could wander the landscapes there for hours, as The Holy’s music put me into a trance.

Yet as much as I loved photographing that world, I knew it was time to move on. I’d accomplished what I set out to do. It felt as if my efforts had helped showcase the true potential of the world Fvckrender was building. A world that could transform you. Inspire you. A new means of artistic expression, if you open yourself up to the experience. 

Day 100: Goodbye//
Day 100: Goodbye//

I hoped these photos would live on forever. I still do. 

Day 62: Supernova//

EVOLUTIONS

In the weeks after the “100 Days in the Fvckrenderverse//” project, I considered what was next. Summer was over, and I was back to being a full-time college student. Still, I stayed closely involved with LVCIDIA, as I wanted to see how it would grow. Sometimes I’d go back into the immersive platform and take photos, but for the most part I’d just chat away with collectors in the Discord, offering help or information where I could. When it came time for restructuring the server, I was made one of the main moderators alongside the lovely and amazing Andyd. We rebuilt everything from the ground up, with me handling much of the technical stuff, while Andy handled communications and support. The server was lively; the days were fun.

When Manny (Lvcidia’s COO) came on board in 2022, he asked if I would consider writing a bi-weekly newsletter for the community. The Fvckrenderverse had become LVCIDIA//, with even greater aspirations as a company. Being so active in the Discord as a mod, I was knowledgeable on just about everything they were working on. I also had a background in writing (albeit screenwriting).

Despite never having written a newsletter before in my entire life, I agreed to take on the task with hopes I could do something worthwhile.

Day 66: Salvation//

I spent over a year collecting updates from all our social channels, synthesizing them, and packaging them up as bi-weekly newsletters for our community. It was sometimes maddening, but it worked out. I became a better writer, I learned about marketing (calls to action, important!), and once again, I felt my support was making a difference. But also once again, I felt the need to try something new.

In May of 2023, I graduated from film school, just as the film industry was put entirely on hold for the strikes. Around the same time, I was offered the opportunity to do more consistent work for Lvcidia. The team was, at the time, preparing to launch the first era of artist Experiences. Manny thought I’d be well suited to write articles for the new website’s journal, diving into the Experience artists careers and work.

Our goal was to offer a more substantive gallery experience. We wouldn’t just be selling each piece, we’d also be telling the story of the work. It was our hope that this would allow for a more engaging, transformative means of artistic engagement.  

Day 84: Heartflow//

I’d stare at each artist’s work for hours and contemplate how I could put what I was seeing, and everything I was feeling, into words that were as compelling as the art itself. 

Thanks to Experiences, my final chapter at Lvcidia has also been the most fulfilling. Over the course of the last 6 months, I’ve had the opportunity to interview behemoths in the realm of digital art (often with the support of social media expert, Katie Mikles). I got to virtually meet icons like Mad Dog Jones, whose work inspired me long before I even knew anything about NFTs. And I got to write a lot. These artists entrusted me to help tell their stories; there was no way I could let them down. I’d spend days drafting my articles, as well as the Experience pages, Discord announcements, TikToks, even some tweets. I read and studied dozens of artist profiles by other writers, to help find a compelling structure for my own. Eventually, I landed on a blend of biography, interview, and creative writing that I felt no AI would ever be able to replicate. Capturing the soul of the artist. 

Day 14B: Forgotten//

TRANSITIONS

LVCIDIA’s aim has always been to blur the line between dreams and reality. After nearly 3 years of having Lvcidia as a constant in my daily life, I felt it was time to make my own dream a reality. Filmmaking is my ultimate passion; it brings me a joy and fulfillment that I doubt anything else ever will. I’m able to pursue it now wholeheartedly thanks to the opportunities and support Lvcidia has given me.

I truly believe in this team: a family of passionate, creative individuals working day-in and day-out to create something extraordinary. It’s been my privilege to work alongside them for so long, and I wish them all the best moving forward. 

Day_24_Rest
Day 24: Rest//

This is Ryan McCue — the Photographer, the Moderator, the Newsletter Extraordinaire, the Writer, the Interviewer, the Voice — signing off.

Click here to view all 100+ Photos from the FVCKRENDERVERSE//

Ryan's Handmade Fvck Avatar
Ryan McCue

Ryan is an LA-based writer and filmmaker. He began as a Lvcidia community member in early 2021, drawn to the cinematic beauty of Fvckrender’s virtual creations. His engagement with the community led to him becoming a moderator for the Discord, and in 2022 he was brought on officially to create Lvcidia’s newsletter. He now assists in writing articles for the Lvcidia journal, conducting interviews, and moderating the occasional live Q&A.

LVCIDIA ALPHA PLAYTEST IS LIVE!

LVCIDIA ALPHA PLAYTEST IS LIVE!

Read the article
LVCIDIA 2024: Looking Forward

LVCIDIA 2024: Looking Forward

Read the article
A Letter From Our Team

A Letter From Our Team

Read the article