World Flag is a new artwork by John Gerrard featuring 195 national flags rendered in coloured virtual smoke. Each flag is sited in a fictitious future desert generated uniquely using code-based frequencies, shapes, colours, and skies. These data worlds are spatial and solar—viewers can look around the scene by dragging in its window. Dawn breaks and night falls accurately for the locale that each flag represents across day and year.
World Flag imagines a shared but bleak and deeply inequitable future in which ongoing governmental and legislative failures alongside environmental degradation and mismanagement have rendered the state as a ghost, as an apparition of itself. The national flag is reimagined as a performed militaristic sign for a doomed place-based political order.
All 195 World Flags in the series are generated from one 112 KB script stored on-chain. This script uses the WebGL (web graphics language) protocol, a new medium which allows complex visual data worlds to be rendered directly in the web browser. When distributed using the blockchain mechanism and viewed on mobile electronic devices, the work and medium propose a global public art experience—post place, post geography.
These are spatial worlds - drag on the scene to look around. Press F on a keyboard for full screen, R to slowly rotate the camera. M to hide the mouse pointer. On a phone or touch screen tip the top of world to go full screen. Tip bottom of world to rotate camera. Tip top again to leave full screen. Tip bottom again to leave rotation.
The ClimateWatch 2019 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions index for the 195 member countries of the UN is a key conceptual underpinning of World Flag. The artworks from the project will be released in a predetermined order based on the 195 countries’ respective GHG emissions, from highest to lowest, irrespective of population size.
Gerrard will also produce a single Artist Proof (A/P) World Flag NFT—a composite of all 195 countries represented in the project that will be reserved for institutional acquisition, and it will be minted upon donation.
John Gerrard will dedicate 10 percent of artist’s proceeds from World Flag sales to Hometree, a nonprofit organization that works to address Ireland’s declining biodiversity and the global climate crisis. Through its Wild Atlantic Rainforest Project, Hometree is restoring a temperate rainforest in Ireland, a unique ecosystem.
In 2021, Gerrard became the first artist within Pace Gallery's program to release an NFT with Western Flag (NFT), an artwork derived from his simulation Western Flag (Spindletop, Texas) 2017, which was commissioned for Earth Day 2017 by Channel 4 in the UK. Western Flag (NFT) recently became the first NFT to be acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Gerrard’s Petro National generative NFT series, released in 2022, was the first Web3 project to be produced as part of the multifaceted collaboration between Art Blocks and Pace Verso. In 2023, Petro National #16 (Nigeria) was acquired by the Centre Pompidou in Paris.