︎ Waiting for Stakes, 2021

2021 is the year of the Ox, but apparently it is also the year that cryptoart makes its mainstream debut. During this frenzy, discussion of cryptoart primarily concerns non-fungible tokens (NFT). In describing this technology, many attribute provenance as the primary benefit of NFTs.1 In short, it is the idea that any party can dispute and prove that the characteristics of one piece of digital media predates another of the same contents. It also describes who its true author is. While this is certainly a compelling and novel benefit bestowed to digital media, the idea of provenance stems from a more basic advantage that catches my attention as an artist trying to understand the NFT: permanence.
    Since I started using computers, there continues to be an unspoken agreement. Digital media is ephemeral. Drag it to the trashcan and it disappears. Go to a website after a few years, it likely does not exist anymore. Large communities, like myspace for instance, disappear, sometimes reboot, but never stay the way they are. Why buy into a system like this? Because this is the trade off for having something at your fingertips, replicated and reduplicated, on multiple devices, in multiple servers all around the world. I believed it to be a decent deal. I moved away from digital illustration, a passion I had as a teenager, into graphic design and computer programming, because they do not rely on a single output like an image. They are systems that generate many outputs, moving images, and responses to interactions to name a few. My methodologies reinforce the idea that digital media is ephemeral. So, to learn that digital media can be permanent is incredibly disruptive to my worldview. It is also attractive. On top of this, like a plot twist in a drama, the trade off for permanence with NFTs is scarcity. For a digital artist, this turns their world upside down.
In this new world, I’m searching for my footing. As with many artists, my way of understanding is through the process of making. At this early stage, I have few takeaways. What I do have is an intention:

In the spirit of permanence, do not feel the need to rush. Be open to changing your mind and your process based on new findings and understanding.

My (In Progress) Working Model

The scarcity imbued to an NFT has a realworld price: energy.2 Pipkin damns NFTs in part due to their cost of emissions. During my time working at Google, I learned that, like the critique of cryptocurrencies and their markets, Google measures its output in kilowatts. Since NFT energy cost is so high, it demands scarcity from the artist minting work. For Pipkin, that scarcity means abstaining from the technology altogether. For me, this is a question of habit. The dream of permanence is too elusive to walk away from. If NFTs have such a high realworld energy cost, then what expression of mine is worth that cost? Further, what digital files have I made that are worth immortalizing? Lastly, if permanence is the main concern, then selling a minted piece becomes secondary.
    In parallel to this critique, the community rallying around NFTs is a community that studies form. My favorite pieces I have seen on various platforms have a purity to them.3 Where Trehan’s Ecotherapy lacks concept it makes up in process. This is partly due to the platform description character limit and partly due to the difficulty in navigating applications and meta-systems to create an emotionally charged image. This simplicity reminds me of when I was learning how to use systems to generate images that resonated with me. The pursuit of new techniques and constant personal betterment continues to be central for anyone working in the creative economy. For me, the visual qualities of music are the forms that bring me to that beginner’s mindset.

Click on the video to toggle the audio on and off. Minted on Foundation.

Visual Music: Mallow I

Audio: Mallow by Curling
Format: 1024x1024
Length: 720 Frames
Frames per second: 60
Bitrate: 16Mbps
Written entirely in JavaScript

Made during two live streams over the course of 9 hours.
1. Code Improvisation (link)
2. Visual Refinement (link)

Behavorial Desktop: Trails

Originally made in 2014 this software uses the mouse movement as input to generate meditative desktop backgrounds.

Tags: two.js, jonofyi, jonobr1, 2D, interactive

mimetype: application/x-directory on ipfs
Interactive webpage. Move mouse or tap to modify. Minted on hic et nunc.

Nostalgia for a Past Future

Originally made in 2009 this software presents a circuitous journey of one’s memory. Each visitor generates a random seed making a unique animation for all.

Tags: bw, generative, henthousand, 2d

mimetype: application/x-directory on ipfs
Generative animation. Minted on hic et nunc.

Minted on Foundation.

Still Life Study 1

Format: 1024x1024
Length: 945 Frames
Frames per second: 30
Written entirely in JavaScript with Two.js
  1. Horne, Jacob. “What is Cryptomedia?
  2. Pipkin, Everest. “But the Environmental Issues with Cryptoart
  3. Trehan, Khyati. Ecotherapy