Floor is Rising - Generative Art Part 1

Primer: In this article, we share 3 pod summaries from the podcast Floor is Rising, where the host Sabretooth and Kizu talk about the prominent generative artists that they found interesting. This is part 1 of a two-part series where we combine the podcasts episodes so that readers can better appreciate the nuances of what we know as generative art.


Short intro

  • Latvian artist

  • His journey resembles English Premier League teams

    • Started off in Hic Et Nunc (HEN) platform, selling his works for $20 to $30 per piece

    • Now his works are selling above $20k

    • Very prolific and the quality of his works was so high that he was discovered and invited by Art Blocks to do a drop on their platform

    • Proceeded to do other projects in the Ethereum ecosystem

Progression in career

  • Interesting because this is a good example of an artist who started off on a smaller platform and graduated to a bigger platform

    • Sees a parallel in the traditional art world as well

    • Some of the Western galleries have more clout than others

    • An artist starts out in a smaller gallery, moves on to a medium one and as he gains even more recognition, he eventually moves to a 'blue chip' gallery

  • Also, this is a matter of the characteristics of each platform and the projects/artists associated with it

  • Good to see differentiation in terms of not just the technical specifications of the platform but also the public perception of it

  • Good for the crypto NFT art scene

Structure of his art

  • Generative art is based on an algorithm encoded in a smart contract

  • A collector buys a specific instantiation based on the algorithm

  • But his earlier works in HEN platform, he is selling the algorithm itself which is embedded in the NFT

  • This means you can click to generate as many works as you want, not just any specific print

  • Goes back to the question of what exactly you are buying with an NFT

  • Giving the option to generate the instantiation that you like best demonstrates the structure of the work

    • The collector will appreciate the artwork better because he is implicated in the final stage of the artwork

  • Something similar to commissioning a portrait

    • You talk with the artist, give him your requirements and the parameters you want to be fulfilled, and the artist has a style that you obviously like

    • The outcome of the work will be a combination of your parameters and the artist's parameters

  • The market today is saying that it prefers the sale of specific instantiations rather than the algorithm

    • This is because the art is a very small component of what people are buying

    • What they are buying is a relationship between the collectors

Rafaël Rozendaal

Short intro

  • Dutch artist

  • Kizu was a fan of his earlier work before he began making NFT

  • In the early 2000s, he was considered a pioneer of what was known as net or internet art

  • He would buy a domain name, set it up with simple animations, often black and white, and sell it off to collectors

  • The collector will agree to sign a contract to say that they will continue to make the site publicly accessible, which fits the ethos of a website

  • Examples of internet websites

  • He was for making artworks accessible to everyone with an internet connection and a browser

  • Rafaël often will say that he was a bit suspicious of any technology that tried to impose proprietary rights on what he saw was free public internet culture

  • His OG status in the internet art fits very nicely with his entry into NFT

    • The blockchain/NFT space promises the kind of freedom of information, sort of a cypherpunk culture, that is the zeitgeist of the early internet days

    • This early promise of the internet goes unfulfilled as the rise of digital giants ended up making the internet like a gatekeeper fiefdom of sorts

Dutch auction mechanism

  • Rafaël is the first artist of the Art Blocks curated collection that was featured using a Dutch auction mechanism

    • Art Blocks had been using a fixed price auction since inception, usually at 0.1 ETH

    • Usually results in a gas war between all the collectors who want to collect it before it sells out

    • Due to the popularity of the platform, they had decided to switch to a Dutch auction, where the price begins high at 3 ETH and start dropping each block until people are willing to buy it

    • Rafaël is the first drop featured using this mechanic - price drop from 3 ETH all the way to 0.25 ETH

Art style

  • The latest drop is the Endless Nameless collection

  • Sabretooth feels that the art style is not the archetypal look or aesthetic that will attract collectors

  • Kizu likes the minimalist style of his work, back in the days of his simple animation in his internet art

  • Less of the pure visual variety that people are used to seeing in generative art in 2021

Tyler Hobbs

Short intro

  • One of the hottest generative artists today

  • Recently produced the drop on Art Blocks, Fidenza, which is setting records in terms of secondary sales

    • The lowest secondary sale is around 29 ETH, about $100k USD

Art style

  • Kizu wonders if we have reached a stage where an artist's signature style is actually all these varied styles instead of one single dominant style

  • Sabretooth thinks that it is possible that in this new generative art space now, a style is defined more by the methodology and the algorithm of the works, rather than the more traditionally visual way of differentiating the difference in styles

  • Kizu agrees - there is a kind of paradox that even though the same algorithm is used, because of the element of uncertainty and randomness, the output can look visually different

Price premium to artists' works

  • There are all kinds of premiums:

    • English speaking premium

    • Cultural premium

    • Known premium (known and named artists can sell higher than anon or pseudonymous artists)

    • Racial premium

  • All the prejudices and biases of the real world still exist in the crypto world

  • There is a bias towards US-based projects because of the English speaking premium and cultural premium

    • When people buying NFTs, they are seeking a way to connect with the artist

    • If an artist can communicate well in English, using all the cultural forms of signalling, then NFT buyers will pay a premium for that

    • There is a lot of communication between the collectors and the artist

    • Platforms can help to foster a community and build a following, compared to the traditional art world where there are many middlemen involved

  • In the traditional art world, you evaluate artists based on how you think their style will age as their career progresses

  • However, in the crypto world where English is the lingua franca, it's an easier form of arbitrage to select artists that are visually on par with someone who is selling much higher but is currently suffering from a lack of ability to communicate in English

  • Here, you bank on the fact that the artists will improve over time and raise their social media and mimetic value


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