Dynamic cryptoart: the new generation

Dynamic cryptoart is uniquely appealing because it makes use of the blockchain itself as part of the artwork. The blockchain isn’t just used as an identifier of ownership, it’s harnessed to generate the art. The artwork is created, in part, by the blockchain.

A number of artists are now finding new ways to use crypto blockchains to create innovative and stunning works. These pieces use techniques - and code - that are native to the blockchain and also push the boundaries of what’s possible in art. They’re early examples of a completely new medium.

“One of my inspirations was that I wanted to explore ways to evoke surprise and delight with my art”, says cryptoartist Yazid. “This was something which blockchain technology enabled.”

Yazid created a series of NFTs on hic et nunc which are black & white geometric animations. Collectors can also buy colour palette NFTs, which can be used to add different combinations of colour to the black & white piece in their wallet. The individual NFTs that the collector owns interact with each other to create new and different artworks.

Mario Klingemann, a leading artist using tools like neural networks, code and algorithms,  says: “What I like is the idea that ‘the chain’ is a database that is owned by nobody but that everyone can add to it. Also theoretically everything that is added to it will be there ‘forever’, to some definition of forever.”

He created a seminal piece of dynamic cryptoart called ‘Planned Obsolescence’. The artwork starts life on hic et nunc as an AI-generated landscape. As more collectors buy editions of the NFT, their wallet addresses cover over the artwork. The collectors eventually destroy the original piece through the act of buying it.

“I always like to do art in a certain medium with things that only that medium allows you to do,” says Klingemann. On the future direction of dynamic cryptoart, he says: “I guess I can see more gamification happening. And of course the audience and collectors become even more an integral part of the work itself.”

One of the exciting things about dynamic NFTs is they can be used to subvert assumptions or encourage different types of behaviour. Buying in-game power-ups is just one way to play it. NFTs can encourage the owner to perform actions if they want to unlock deeper levels hidden in the art.

An emerging artist experimenting with dynamic NFTs is marchingsquare. He devised a series of generative artworks that were the platform’s identicons. These unique identifiers for hic et nunc users are not only default profile pics, but one-off generative artworks in themselves.

marchingsquare also created an abstract geometric artwork called ‘Secondary Market’ that will only display if it is put on sale on the secondary market for less that 1 tezos. As the piece is bought and resold from owner to owner, the art evolves and becomes more intricate.

“The artwork is a social experiment,” says marchingsquare. “I developed it and released it in the few days following hicetnunc’s secondary market going live. The idea was to create a piece that would encourage its owner to sell it for a low price.”

If a collector tries to sell it for more than the 1 tezos ceiling, the piece becomes a black square. Unfortunately the current owner is trying to sell it for a higher price. “I was hoping this would be enough for collectors to keep the ball rolling. Unfortunately the primary collector didn’t play ball.”

It’s a shame, but also an example of how dynamic NFT art can develop in unpredictable ways after being released by its creator.

The potential for gamification can be seen in ‘Drone Squadron’ by orderandchaos. To play the game, the collector buys a Squadron Token available on hic et nunc. They burn this token and the transaction hash is used to randomly generate a squadron of drone spacecraft that can be pitted against other collectors’ squadrons.

When playing Drone Squadron I couldn’t help thinking that the epic space battle unfolding in front of me was actually one collector’s burn transaction hash versus another. A kind of ‘block war’ in space set to a high-octane soundtrack.

orderandchaos credits his inspiration to the very cool Tezos Pirates NFTs by Flyghor. Also: “the same reason I make everything. I just want to learn.” It’s clear that he’s done more than that. He also has plans to make the game even more complex and evolving.

“Anything and everything seems possible,” he says. “Yet it feels like at any moment it could all crash and burn. There’s so much energy and positivity right now, especially in the hicetnunc community. I'm making the most of it while it lasts.”

All the dynamic NFTs described here exist on the hic et nunc platform. Cryptoart legends like Matt Kane and Pak have been able to create outstanding dynamic work on other platforms, such as Async Art, but for new artists wanting to push the boundaries, hic et nunc is the most flexible and supportive platform at the moment.

On the future of dynamic crypoart, Yazid says: “We’re starting to see some of the signs of it now. Like tokens owning other tokens and other forms of inter-token interactivity. Eventually we’ll get to a place where we’re no longer just emulating what traditional art can do.”