The human desire to make things is ancient. Early humans were making art on cave walls, carving tools out of stone, and shaping clay into pots that would hold the food they needed to survive. Humans have always wanted to create, but it has never been as easy as it is now.
Every day, new digital creative tools are being made available for anyone with access to a computer or smartphone. With these freely accessible creative tools, people can not only express themselves artistically but also use these digital creative tools to explore new possibilities - including the possibility of exploring new technological limits.
One field where this exploration is taking place fast and furiously is generative art. But what exactly is generative art? How does it work? And how are blockchain and NFT making this art form even more exciting?
An Introduction to Generative Art
Generative art grew out of a desire to explore the intersection between computers and creativity. In particular, it stemmed from a fear that as technology changed our society, humans would lose their ability to be creative. Artists were worried that imagination would no longer be necessary because machines would do all the imaginative work for us.
Generative art often uses AI-based generative algorithms to create new pieces of artwork every time the algorithm runs - meaning that each piece will be unique and unlike any other created before or after it. This makes generative art perfect for collections - since there are infinite possibilities for what each individual piece can look like.
But how do these algorithms work? How exactly does generative technology create these endless amounts of unique pieces? And what role do blockchain and NFT play in this?
The Basic Components of Generative Art
Generative art is made up of three main components: an algorithm, a set of parameters, and a noise function (also known as a 'seed' function).
First, the algorithm is a set of instructions used to create an artwork. There are many different types of generative algorithms out there, including cellular automata, L-systems, fractals, GANs (generative adversarial networks), Markov chains, stylistic variants, and more - but they all have one thing in common: a set of instructions.
Second, a set of parameters is needed to determine the exact rules used by the algorithm to create the artwork. Since each rule or parameter can change how an art piece is created, this creates endless possibilities for what art pieces can look like. For example, if you change one number in an algorithm from 1 to 2, this could change the entire artwork.
Third, a noise function creates randomness in each piece of generative art. This can be compared to flipping a coin - with a 50% chance of it being heads and a 50% chance of it being tails. Each time you flip that coin, both possibilities are equally likely to occur. The same principle applies to a noise function.
All together, these components help create unique pieces of art each time they're run. By tweaking these components, artists can explore different ways to create works that are both intriguing and beautiful.
How Are Blockchain and NFT Changing This?
Blockchain has become known as being the backbone for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. But blockchain has many other applications besides just being a digital ledger for monetary transactions. In the field of generative art, blockchain is being used to help secure ownership of pieces and provide transparency in regards to which pieces have been created by machine learning algorithms vs. human artists.
NFTs (or Non-Fungible Tokens) are similar to cryptocurrencies in that they're both digital assets, but they differ in one important way: while cryptocurrencies can be traded for other digital currencies, NFTs cannot.
One reason why people like using these tokens is because of their inherent value - each token on the blockchain is unique, which means that each token has its own price. One way to think about NFTs is by comparing them to baseball cards or stamps - they're unique tokens with their own history and intrinsic value.
Today, blockchain technology is allowing new types of collectibles to be created through digital scarcity. Instead of just being able to own one copy of a digital file, you could own multiple copies and this would actually have value. You can think about it as each token is a piece of the artwork - meaning that as tokens increase in number (meaning there are fewer available), the more valuable they become.
How Can You Collect Generative Art?
NFT's are becoming known as "the new collectibles" - items on the blockchain that have value simply because they exist. NFTs can be rare digital items, limited editions of creative content, or even unique artwork created specifically for a certain NFT owner. All NFTs do have one major thing in common: They represent ownership over something valuable. And since these NFT's live on the blockchain, they cannot be duplicated and each one exists as an individual immutable entity with its own specific characteristics.
As we mentioned earlier, generative art is all about creating things that are endless and unique - so it makes perfect sense that the blockchain and NFT's would be a good fit for this type of artwork.
Here are just a couple of ways that blockchain and NFTs can help to enhance existing generative art pieces:
- Discrete Ownership - With blockchain, we can create unique pieces that cannot be duplicated or hacked by anyone except for the owner. There will always be tension between new technologies and old laws, but as new laws develop around NFT's it may become possible to use them as an alternative form of ownership over digital things like generative art.
- Provenance - Blockchain provides an unalterable record of any changes made to an artwork along with who has owned the piece throughout history. As you might imagine, this type of transparency is something that any artist (or art collector) would crave because it adds value to the piece itself.
- Transparency - NFT's can also hold information like an individual's name, date of birth, and even the size chart for the clothing they are wearing in a photoshoot. This allows artists or collectors to know exactly what physical attributes have been included in a specific artwork on an NFT.
Blockchain is helping to create new types of collections using NFTs by providing artists with tools to indelibly secure ownership, share their work with collectors on a transparent platform, and even create a unique artwork just for NFT owners. With these advancements, blockchain has opened up endless possibilities for generative art.