Programmable Art Designed to Evolve on Ethereum? Meet the Async Art Project

Unlike your typical NFT art, these six pieces have notably been designed to evolve over time, a dynamic that points to novel avenues of creativity and engagement among cryptoartists and their audiences
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Some of the ecosystem’s top cryptoartists have collaborated on a first-of-its-kind project that, among other things, shows how Ethereum can be a wellspring for innovation in the arts and not simply a one-trick, finance pony.

That effort, Async Art, launched on February 25th, its inaugural gallery of six pieces created in collaboration between two smart contract developers and the project’s first 13 participating artists.

Unlike your typical NFT art, these six pieces have notably been designed to evolve over time, a dynamic that points to novel avenues of creativity and engagement among cryptoartists and their audiences. To that end, the project’s new landing page explains:

“The latest advancement in the art space has been the ability to tokenize and sell art online using Ethereum. Although this has been an amazing first step, it still mimics how the physical world operates. What if art could evolve over time, react to it’s owners, or pull data from the outside world? It’s time to find out what’s possible when modern art takes full advantage of the digital medium.”

How It Works

Async Art uses a system of tokenized “Masters” and “Layers.”

The Masters are one of the six 1-of-1 NFT pieces mentioned above, or any that come later: they can be bid on and purchased as one would a normal NFT piece, but they evolve based on their constituent layers, which are also NFT tokens that can be traded and owned.

Alas, the owners of Layers can use their tokens’ specially programmed traits to modify the appearance of their associated Master pieces.

Async Art’s current flagship piece, “First Supper,” has 22 layers contributed by the following cryptoartists: Shortcut, Josie, blackboxdotart, mlibty, VansDesign, Alotta Money, TwistedVacancy, Hackatao, Rutger van der Tas, Coldie, XCOPY, Matt Kane, and Connie Digital. At press time, the Master piece had a bid on it for 10 ETH, or roughly $2,500 USD, while several of its layers had already been used to modify its visage.

For example, owners of Coldie’s “Decentral Eyes” can use the NFT layer to cycle through the appearances of various high-profile cryptoeconomy figures in “First Supper,” like Andreas Antonopoulos, John McAfee, and Vitalik Buterin.

Artists Set the Parameters

Layers on Async Art can have modifiable traits that affect things like rotation, opacity, and beyond. It’s ultimately up to the artists to decide the scopes of the traits they want collectors to be able to manipulate, the project’s builders have explained:

“You decide the parameters of your art. It can change as little or as much as you want. Your art could change based on the contents of an owners wallet, or maybe reference live weather data. Art has become programmable, and it’s limited only by your imagination.”

A New Era of Living Digital Art?

Digital art is on the rise, as Ethereum is on the rise. Together, the possibilities are wide open.

Indeed, the crossroads between the two points to a future where art can become increasingly participatory and variable, as collectors themselves can now become a central and constant part of an NFT’s creative process.

This aleatory dynamic and its related breakdown of the distinction between artist and audience is right at home in postmodern art. In other words, this is a timely step forward for artworld innovation.

In this sense, Async Art may be a first-of-a-kind project, but it most certainly won’t be the last where fluctuating programmable art is concerned. Other similarly innovative projects will follow in its stead in the years ahead, pushing out the sector’s possibilities that much further. What comes next then may be a new era of active art wherein pieces are never finished, only continued on.

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William M. Peaster is a professional writer and editor who specializes in the Ethereum, Dai, and Bitcoin beats in the cryptoeconomy. He's appeared in Blockonomi, Binance Academy, Bitsonline, and more. He enjoys tracking smart contracts, DAOs, dApps, and the Lightning Network. He's learning Solidity, too! Contact him on Telegram at @wmpeaster

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