Simple understanding of NFT: From the perspective of generative art

Today’s NFT is similar to 2012 ‘s Bitcoin

This is not to say that the price of NFT is similar to that of Bitcoin in 2012, because the two are not a thing at all and cannot be compared in terms of price or value. What I want to say here is that the world’s understanding of NFT may be similar to the understanding of Bitcoin in 2012.

When people talk about NFTs, they often mention bubbles, hype, counter-trades (trading back and forth with multiple accounts of a user, raising prices), valuelessness, etc. In short, in the eyes of many people, NFTs are nothing. Value.

In 2012, the world viewed Bitcoin this way. Not much use itself has always existed in this world. Famous paintings, diamonds, jewellery, famous watches… When they first appeared, how useful and valuable were they?

How to simply understand NFT ?

NFT is a very big category. Any content with unique characteristics can become NFT, except for the artworks, collectibles, items in the game, etc. that people see, even domain names, liquidity-providing LP tokens, ball game tickets, etc. And so on can become NFT. Therefore, it is unrealistic to include all NFTs in one article. Different types of NFTs have different values ​​and uses. Some have no obvious use, such as pixel avatars, generating artwork, etc.; some have very specific uses. , Such as tickets, domain names, in-game items.

It is undeniable that NFT has a big bubble, hype, and paired transactions, and it is of no use in itself. To a certain extent, these statements are correct. However, we must also see that behind human behavior, there is a need to support it. There is a demand, there is a transaction, and something is hidden behind it.

In this article, I will discuss NFT mainly from the perspective of generating artworks, and see if there is something new in the combination of generating artworks and blockchain?

The soil for generating artwork NFT

Generative art is not new

Generative Art, English as Generative Art, is the product of the combination of computer technology and art. Its generation is not directly created by humans, but through algorithms to generate artworks. Algorithms have a set of rules that can be used freely within the rules, and finally a unique work is obtained, which also represents a certain concept of the artist to a certain extent.

Generative art itself is not a new phenomenon, it started in the 1960s. It is also related to the development of various artistic trends of thought at that time. For example, it is compatible with Dadaism in some aspects. Dadaism pursues an interesting state: a sober irrational state, the pursuit of casual art. Dadaism itself is “anti-art”. It dislikes the traditional aesthetic order and is more interested in randomness and accident.

In 1984, the Museum of Modern Arts gave Lillian Schwartz, the pioneer of generative art, the opportunity to display it and let generative art enter the world stage.

Combination of generative art and computer technology

First of all, from the perspective of art development itself, generative art itself has been an important theme of art development in the past 50 years. Second, with the development of computer technology, generative art and computers have found a joint point, which gives generative art a new way of expression.

  •  Generative art has its own artistic soil

Cézanne, the pioneer of modern art, was an important painter in art history, and he had an important influence on the later Matisse and Picasso. Modern art began to move towards modern expression, instead of pursuing copying and similarity. In this process, art has entered a diversified stage. There are futurism and constructivism that are passionate about machine aesthetics and technology; Dadaism that pays attention to autonomy and randomness; and the new plasticism that boldly uses geometric shapes…

These are the soil for the development of generative art, and it does not come out of thin air.

  • The development of computer technology has given new expressions to generative art

Nowadays, digital information has been embedded in people’s lives, and people are becoming familiar with digital objects. With the advent of all this, people are transforming from an industrial society to a digital society, and people’s work, life, and entertainment have also undergone fundamental changes, which also reshapes people’s views on art.

By the end of the 1990s, Murial Cooper, Ben Fry, Casey Reas and others promoted the birth of the digital art platform “Processing”. It greatly reduces the threshold for artists to enter the generative art. Artists don’t have to worry about expensive hardware or superb programming skills. “Processing” software promotes the development of generative art. Among them, an artist Jared Tarbell (also one of the co-founders of Etsy) uses “Processing” software to create some very powerful generative art.

Simple understanding of NFT: From the perspective of generative art

(Bubble Chamber,Jared Tarbell,2003 )

In the view of art history expert Jason Bailey, Tarbell’s work is “a typical representative of the duality of chaos and control. It has strong visual complexity. It slowly emerges from the simple, making people feel that it is more like from the soil. It grows, not from algorithms.” In other words, generative art has reached a certain level, and it looks like a natural work.

In recent years, with the gradual development of artificial intelligence, the evolution of generative art has continued. In the artistic creation based on artificial intelligence, some works have also been born. In 2014, GAN (Generative Adversarial Network) used machine learning algorithms to build new forms of literature, poetry and art, including generative art. GAN is composed of two neural networks. One is the “generator” and the other is the “discriminator”. The generator will obtain a large amount of painting materials, and then is responsible for creating the work, and the second discriminator is responsible for identifying the uniqueness of the work. Through AI, works with unique styles can be created.

Robbie Barat uses GAN to create and generate some very lively works of art, such as the following paintings:

Simple understanding of NFT: From the perspective of generative art

(AI Generated Landscape #6,Robbie Barrat, 2018)

In short, the development of computer technology has given generative art new practical tools and new ways of expression. In the context of modern art, art is eclectic, it is creation, not beauty is art. The unique creation is art itself.

Therefore, the combination of computer technology and art has produced interesting new art forms, including generative art. Every era has its “Da Vinci” and “Van Gogh”. Perhaps a hundred years from now, crypto artists such as Beeple and Tyler Hobbs (and possibly other artists) may be considered to be in the 21st century. Half-leaf “Michelangelo”. Who knows?

Generative art itself makes full use of computer technology, but it does not mean that it is completely random. It is designed by artists and set certain rules, but under controlled rules, there is a certain degree of randomness. This in itself is also a way of artistic expression.

In this case, the creator does not completely control the direction of the art. Although the code is written, there is a certain degree of machine autonomy and randomness. These accidents make the art unique, and at the same time, it also reflects the artist’s ideas. , Is not entirely machine-generated.

Therefore, generative art is a new artistic expression that combines the inspiration of machines and artists in the digital age.

One advantage of using generative art is that the artist can make more complex attempts. When the artist wants to repeat something, using the machine can save a lot of time. According to the description of art history expert Jason Bailey, at the end of the 1960s, some artists began to experiment with this kind of art, such as Georg Nees and Frieder Nake. They print out their work on a printer.

Simple understanding of NFT: From the perspective of generative art

Omm Tribute to Paul Klee , Frieder Nake, 1965 年)

In addition, Vera Molnár, an artist of the last century, said: “Without the help of computers, it would be impossible to present the images that existed in the artist’s mind so faithfully. This sounds contradictory, but it is considered cold by people. And inhumane machines can help realize the most subjective, most unattainable, and most profound things of mankind.” This is to examine the role of computers in art from the perspective of an artist.

Simple understanding of NFT: From the perspective of generative art

(Untitled , Vera Molnár , 1985)

Generative art meets blockchain

Generative art is an inevitable product of the development of the digital age to a certain extent. In the industrial age, people used industrial materials (steel, concrete, glass, plastic) to produce various industrial products, etc. These industrial materials build our buildings and daily necessities. In the information age, humans consume a lot of time in the software environment. Social interaction, games, news reading, shopping, taxi rides, etc. all rely on software. Coding is reshaping the various relationships in human life and production.

In the view of generative artist Tyler Hobbs (the creator of the Fidenza series), materials are very important to art. They are not neutral. They are as influential as architects. He believes that steel and concrete have constructed modern cities, and their density has shaped our way of life. The towering steel and concrete walls exude a hard, unfamiliar and unforgiving atmosphere.

Tyler Hobbs also believes that computer programming is not a neutral medium. It has a modern CPU architecture, an operating system, programming language, web browser, UI, etc., as well as its own limitations and preferences. For artists, it is the core material of the information age. Under such circumstances, artists are forced to use computer language to complete their expressions. In this process, the artist and the software struggle with each other and finally gain a deep understanding. Therefore, Tyler Hobbs believes that artists who have broadened the meaning of steel, concrete and glass in the past will also change our concept of software in the future.

Among them, a very important part is generative art. Among them, you can see the recycling, which can be combined with different elements to achieve changes, and introduce a unique beauty of the computer: tough and concise lines. The interesting thing about generative art is that it develops with software that eats up the world.

Tyler Hobbs’ Fidenza#313, sold at a high price of 1,000 ETH, worth more than 3.2 million US dollars. (Of course, it’s not clear whether it is right to knock on the transaction, and no guessing and discussion will be made here).

From the creation of Tyler Hobbs, he carried out a lot of meticulous design, but gave the program a certain degree of randomness. The program focuses on structured curves and building blocks, but it has many possibilities in terms of texture, color, proportion, organization, etc., which makes it rich in variety and not completely under the control of the artist.

Simple understanding of NFT: From the perspective of generative art

(Fidenza #313, Generative Artwork by Tyler Hobbs)

As the blockchain infrastructure continues to mature, artists are conducting various experiments on the Ethereum blockchain . Generative art in the encryption era is an emerging art form. Generative art has existed since the 1960s, and now it has encountered the blockchain, which gives it an unprecedented opportunity for expression.

In the past generative art, artists first had a process of “selection” in order to obtain “good” works. Artists try various outputs, and then choose a favorite set before showing it to the public. Today, on Art Blocks , the artist creates a generation script written into the Ethereum blockchain to make it immutable and verifiable, and can choose how many times to generate the output. In Art Blocks, it is generally about 500 to 1000 times. These output works become NFT, and then generated to the collectors. In such multiple output processes, no one will know exactly what happened, and there is a certain randomness here.

Of course, this also faces the problem of how to achieve high-quality works of art. Tyler Hobbs believes that the average output of the program is very important. Artists want to make sure that “bad results” are rare. This requires a good design of the generated algorithm, which itself is a quality assurance process and requires the system to process possible output results. In the process of creating Fidenza’s work, Tyler Hobbs himself spent about 2 months experimenting with this process repeatedly to increase the room for improvement. He believes that artists need to balance the quality and diversity of standardization, on the one hand to plan a certain integrity, on the other hand to achieve individuality. This is not easy.

Art Blocks, a Generative Art Platform in the Encrypted Era

Art Blocks is a platform for the creation, collection and curation of generative art, focusing on programmable generative works of art and stored on the blockchain.

Its core is two aspects: one is to help artists create and generate artworks, and the other is to help collectors purchase these works. Artists use p5.js to write and generate scripts to define input parameters, and generate encrypted artworks through algorithms. These input parameters have certain restrictions, such as color and shape, which can be simple or complex, and there can be only one or two or more than ten. Art Blocks put these written codes on the chain. Due to a certain degree of randomness, when any user generates an artwork, different results will be obtained.

Art Blocks includes curation, playground and factory. Among them, the curatorial part will strictly review the artists; the artist playground part will push some of the artists; the factory is an open platform, and the review requirements are not so strict.

Its art NFT transactions have accumulated more than 100 million U.S. dollars, and it has accounted for the majority in the past 30 days. This shows that the NFT market for generating artworks is currently at an explosive stage. Below are some of the transaction volume and other data of Art Blocks. Of course, it is unclear how long it will last.

As of the writing of Blue Fox Notes, in the past 30 days, the sales volume of generated artwork NFT launched on the Art Blocks platform on OpenSea is second only to CryptoPunks.

Simple understanding of NFT: From the perspective of generative art

(The NFT generated by Art Blocks has a certain popularity, OpenSea)

The current trend of changes in the floor price of the works on Opensea on Art Blocks:

Simple understanding of NFT: From the perspective of generative art

(Art Blocks’ floor price trends of generated artworks, Dune Analytics)

Some people say: Great works of art are not paintings on the wall, but paintings on the blockchain. Such a statement, right? The digital age will give us the answer.

CryptoPunks is the first successful cryptographically generated artwork

CryptoPunks has gradually become known to people through auctions at traditional auction houses (such as Christie’s), participation in art exhibitions, and traditional media reports, plus its original novel concepts.

Simple understanding of NFT: From the perspective of generative art

(CryptoPunks auctioned on Christie’s, Larva Labs blog)

In an exhibition in Zurich, Cryptopunks successfully aroused some enthusiasm for cryptopunk culture, but these people have certain influence, such as Joe Lubin (founder of ConsenSys, former member of the founding team of Ethereum) and Niklas Nikolajsen ( Attention from the founder of Bitcoin Suisse. In addition, some digital art fans, art collectors and wealthy businessmen have also begun to notice these encrypted collections.

Simple understanding of NFT: From the perspective of generative art

(CryptoPunks exhibited at Kate Vass Galerie in Zurich, photo from Gerog Bak)

When writing the manuscript according to Blue Fox’s notes, the floor price of Cryptopunks was 123ETH, which is equivalent to US$389,000.

Simple understanding of NFT: From the perspective of generative art

(CryptoPunks bottom price, Larva Labs)

The most expensive Cryptopunks is as high as 4,200 ETH, which is more than 7.5 million U.S. dollars.

Simple understanding of NFT: From the perspective of generative art

(The highest price of CryptoPunks, Larva Labs)

CryptoPunks’ historical cumulative transaction volume reached 1.17 billion U.S. dollars, and the transaction volume in the past 4 weeks reached 633 million U.S. dollars. It can be seen that the sales volume of CryptoPunks is mainly promoted recently.

Simple understanding of NFT: From the perspective of generative art

(CryptoPunks transaction data, Larva Labs)

Cryptopunks are different in the eyes of different people. Some people regard it as a hyped pixel jpg image, which is of no use except speculation and hype; some people regard it as the original classic application of generative art in the blockchain and think that CryptoPunks It is a new kind of artwork; some people regard it as a collection; some people regard it as a status symbol in a circle…

So in a nutshell, what is CryptoPunks?

CryptoPunks was completed by two software developers (Matt Hall and John Watkinson) using a pixel art generator. It has random features, including skin color, hair, sunglasses, etc. A total of 10,000 are generated, all of which are 24*24 pixels “punk” Head portraits, of which 6,039 males, 3,840 females, 696 people wear lipstick, 303 people have muttonchops; 286 punks wear 3D eyes, 128 red faces, 94 pigtails, 78 toothy, 44 Wearing a beanie, there are 8 punks with no obvious characteristics, and one is very scarce, and has 7 attributes at the same time. It is #8348, with a big beard, buck teeth, smoking, wearing earrings, and a mole , Classic color wear, top hat. In addition to human punk, CryptoPunks also has 88 green-skinned zombie punks, 24 long-haired ape punks, and 9 light blue-skinned alien punks.

These avatars are a tribute to pioneers in the field of encryption, and cypherpunk was created by pioneers such as Timothy May. Blue Fox Notes mentioned the article ” Tim May’s Encrypted World Conception ” related to Timothy May’s concept before .

These ten thousand “Cryptopunks” are unique, but there are random characteristics, and some punks are rarer. For example, there are only 9 “alien” punks.

When it was launched in 2017, through KOL’s introduction, 8,600 Cryptopunks were claimed within 20 hours, all of which were claimed for free.

Judging from its appearance, it is far less famous than CryptoKitties, which caused congestion in Ethereum at the time. But these CryptoPunks have an important feature: it has only 10,000, which is in line with the instinctive preference of the crypto community for non-inflation, and it is also given a cultural interpretation by the community. CryptoPunks has a certain popularity in the circle of playing crypto art in the early days, and most people who participate in it: either already have one or want one. This is an important support for the early development of CryptoPunks.

Some people set these punk pixel avatars as Twitter avatars, which remind them of themselves, family, friends, or celebrities. These associations will have an important influence on their purchases. There are also some users who simply like these “punk” avatars. They think that these avatars excite them and just like them. On this point, you can refer to the previous article ” NFT in the Eyes of Early Players ” by Blue Fox Notes .

At the beginning, Matt Hall and John Watkinson conducted a small experiment on the Ethereum blockchain: the personal ownership of digital products is true. They chose the pixel avatar of a password friend as their practice direction. In their view, the punk spirit is independent and does not adhere to conventions. Its aesthetic core comes from the London punk movement in the 1970s. Some films and novels have also deepened these aesthetic connotations, such as the movies “Blade Runner” and William Gibson The novel “Neuromancer” and so on.

The two founders also mentioned when talking about generative art: “The advantage of generative art is that once the process is started, it will produce results that surprise us. We run the generator hundreds of times to view the results and make adjustments.” Later, after deploying the contract on Ethereum, the final CryptoPunks remained unchanged.

The reason why cryptopunk has become a crypto collectible is different from crypto cat or other game collectibles. It has a fixed upper limit of only 10,000. At the same time, like other NFTs, each is different, cannot be tampered with and can be verified.

It is also different from traditional collectibles. Its transaction records run on the chain and cannot be faked. In addition, it was given the cultural core of the encryption community, and under the promotion of the encryption community, it eventually became a pioneering work of encryption generation art.

Behind NFT is the eternal need of mankind

Human beings are socialized, and their satisfaction comes from the approval of the group. And this recognition runs through all kinds of behaviors and activities since the birth of mankind. One of the underlying driving forces of human beings is the expansion of genes. This low-level demand transcends human consciousness and governs human behavior. It will be externalized through various human behaviors, one of which is to show its own uniqueness.

This is true even in the animal kingdom. For example, the male feathers of birds are very beautiful, which is good for attracting the attention of female birds.

To make an analogy that may not be appropriate, nowadays Cryptopunks avatar is like a watch worn by some wealthy people. It represents a position of people in the crypto world, and is a demonstration of the status of the crypto community, although this is similar to crypto. The idea of ​​punk does not necessarily match.

Other NFTs, such as users purchasing NBA Top Shot and other collectibles, have their community display value for the basketball fan community. This is similar to the behavior of some wealthy people buying famous paintings, collecting luxury cars, and various limited edition luxury goods. At present, in some wealthy encrypted circles, if you don’t own a punk, you will feel embarrassed to stay in their circle, which forms a symbol of circle status.

This is also a socialized mutual influence behavior. There may be people who don’t understand and are not interested in understanding the so-called punk spirit, but in a circle there is conformity behavior. This behavior affects people’s final choice.

NFT meets the characteristics of collectibles in the digital age:

1. NFT is built on blockchains such as Ethereum. It is immutable and can verify the authenticity, which is very important for collectors;

2. The total amount of NFT has an upper limit. For example, there are only 10,000 CryptoPunks at most, Pudgy Penguins only 8,888 at most, and Ethereum stones at most 100. These guarantee their scarcity. And this kind of scarcity has special meaning for the display in the community, and it can satisfy the satisfaction of the display.

If punks become useful things, for example, it can multiply, generate more punks, etc., the more variable places it has, the more uses it becomes, and it may be unpopular. Its biggest foundation lies in the characteristics of rarity, coolness and simplicity.

This may be a human myth: sometimes the more useful, the more expensive it may not be, and the more useful it is, the more expensive it is.

The high risk of NFT

Finally, it needs to be particularly emphasized that the NFT field was full of bubbles, hype, and counter-trades in the early days. Most NFTs may eventually return to zero, and only a few have a chance to survive. The investment threshold in this field is relatively high, and it is necessary to conduct in-depth research on the NFT itself. Therefore, this field is not suitable for most people. Unless they have a deep understanding or sufficient risk tolerance, they should not enter easily to avoid major losses.


Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
Coinyuppie is an open information publishing platform, all information provided is not related to the views and positions of coinyuppie, and does not constitute any investment and financial advice. Users are expected to carefully screen and prevent risks.

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