HomeNFTsGuide to Dynamic Digital Art

Guide to Dynamic Digital Art

-


In the mid- to late 1990s, internet art (aka net.art) comprised a small but growing group of international artists, technologists, and provocateurs who latched onto every facet of internet technology and culture to produce evocative work that straddled the boundaries of interactive media, performance art, Fluxus, Dada, experimental literature, and the internet itself. 

To read of this era is reminiscent of web3 circa 2018–2020 when possibilities were so fervently dreamed up but the technology and audience reach lagged behind. As the primary layer-one blockchains and myriad alt-chains gain in speed and efficiency while the tech built on top of it grows in sophistication, the tools at the web3 artist’s disposal might now outpace most people’s sense of possibility. 

One such example is in dynamic tokens via smart contracts that now allow for minting HTML files, the OG internet-native canvas that artists, designers, programmers, businesses, and more have been creatively stretching for more than 30 years now.  

Even for the most art obsessed among us, jpeg fatigue is real, so we cannot understate the importance of growing the number of file types available to mint and present in elegant, artistic settings. 

Below, we offer a brief overview of HTML-based NFTs that have been released in the past few years in order to give you an impression of the many possibilities inherent in dynamic, reactive, and interactive art. 


Closed-loop dynamic art

Semantically speaking, everything in this article is “dynamic art,” the word “dynamic” simply pointing to the fact that the art changes over time. Here, for the sake of organizing our minds around an idea, I will call this particular category “closed-loop dynamic art” because it proceeds along its creator’s chosen course without further input, distinguishing it from the “open-loop dynamic art” of the latter two categories of reactive art and interactive art. 

Transient Labs Co-Founder and CIO Ben Strauss is one of the leaders — both technically and creatively — of the HTML token movement. Not only has he created and coded many of his own interactive and reactive pieces, but, in his capacities at Transient, he’s coded and collaborated on dozens if not hundreds of dynamic works with some of web3’s biggest artists, including Shavonne Wong and Seneca. 

Strauss’s Pursuit of Equilibrium series is thus a great starting point when discussing dynamic work. In this series, he combines long-exposure photography with modern pseudo-random glitching algorithms, the latter of which navigates the base artwork through hues and textures to create an ever-evolving, never-ending artwork.


Lux No. 1 by Ben Strauss

The art itself doesn’t need to change for it to be “dynamic” — it could simply move around. For instance, the Searching for Myself Cycle by degenpain is a series of eight 1/1 artworks that swap out from one day to the next, including animated gifs and an image of the original painting off of which the series is based. 

Artist and choreographer Diego Mac’s Choreographic Time Capsule uses the element of time in a more deliberate way. This dynamic artwork unfolds over 1 year, 10 years, and 100 years, showcasing a 3D choreography through daily frames that cumulatively reveal a complete dance sequence over time. The project starts with a year-long piece where the full choreography is only displayed at the end, evolving into longer spans of 10 and 100 years. Each day, viewers are presented with a fragment of the larger choreography, inviting them to engage with a living, evolving artwork that challenges traditional concepts of time in art. 


CHOREOGRAPHIC TIME CAPSULE – 1 year by Diego Mac

Reactive art

Reactive art is a dynamic artwork that changes in response to a data feed. Briefly put, the artist first chooses a dynamic variable (e.g., seasons, weather, lunar cycle, time of day, DOW Jones, ETH prices, Twitter sentiment analysis — in short, anything with measurable change). Then, the artist decides how that variable will affect the piece. 

3D artist Josh Pierce created Impermanence (2022) using real-time geo-location to react dynamically to weather conditions in the viewer’s area, displaying rain when it’s raining, sun when it’s sunny, and on with a range of climatic nuances far more detailed than merely “sunny.”


Impermanence by Josh Pierce

Ben Strauss has created three pieces 24 | Sentinel (2021), 24 | On the Edge (2021), and 24 | Cascading Lights (2021) that respond to the viewer’s time of day, going from nighttime to dawn to dusk and back again each day.

POSTWOOK takes a similar approach with Everything Always (2022), but where Strauss’s approach emphasizes what we might call seasonal realism, POSTWOOK takes a less literal approach through ambient and unexpected evolutions that evolve the piece steadily but less predictably, along the surreal lines we would expect from her style of updated psychedelia. The piece doesn’t evolve as a whole at the same pace: each layer evolves in its own way at its own speed, and will appear differently to people based on geo-location.


Everything Always (2022) by POSTWOOK

Founding BLOOM Collective member Shavonne Wong created The Invisible March of Time I and The Invisible March of Time II with a much more personal and finite variable: her own lifetime. 

These two detailed 3D portraits show two women who are and will always be Wong’s exact age as long as she is alive. Upon the artist’s death or hundredth birthday (it’s unclear which) the portrait will start over (though if it starts from age 30 [when it started] or infancy is also unclear). I would actually say this project straddles merely dynamic and reactive because I believe all of the variables are in place within the work already and not influenced by further input, but I could be wrong.  

This is just a fine sliver of the range of projects out there making creative use of data and dynamic variables to create works of art that evolve and transform in reaction to one or more shifts in the world outside itself. 

Before we move on to Interactive Art, though, we first need to talk about the gray area between reactive and interactive, which is when you are the dynamic variable. 


The Invisible March of Time II by Shavonne Wong

In conversation with Ben Strauss while researching this article, Strauss mentioned an ambitious goal: “I want to start making stuff that can tap into either an Oura Ring or Apple Watch, one of these wearables that tracks your activity and mood. I imagine having an artwork on your wall that changes when you’re stressed to counteract your mood and help balance you out.”

As the sophistication of these devices grows, so too will the number of dynamic variables — and thus possibilities for reactive art in which you are the passive data feed. I shudder to think of the artwork that greets me in the morning with how much I had to drink the night before or just exactly how poorly I slept. 


Interactive art

Interactive art, as could probably be guessed, is dynamic art that changes in direct response to in-the-moment interaction. 

Some of the most effective mechanics for interactivity are the simplest. New York Times bestselling author Neil Strauss released a book called Survive All Apocalypses as an interactive NFT, which simply allows you to turn the page; simplicity notwithstanding, minting and reading a book is hardly insignificant. I hope someone someday topples the hegemony of Amazon’s Kindle with a blockchain-powered ereader. 

Zareen Fava’s Tell-A-Vision! is a triptych of animations that tell a story that the viewer clicks through to move between. Again, hardly a groundbreaking interaction of itself, but the potential to nest multiple episodes of a narrative that a viewer can navigate is a mechanic brimming with creative potential.  

As we progress toward more complex interactions, consider Jeremy Cowart’s Lightograph series, which viewers can interact with via simple cursor movement. The interaction turns the cursor into a de facto studio light, lighting the subject from the angle at which the cursor sits. Most impressive, this feat was done with only traditional, analog techniques without post-processing.  


Promotional image for Jen Stark’s Digital Paint

Multi-hyphenate artist Jen Stark went one step further with her 5,000-piece collection of unique interactive artworks titled Digital Paint, made possible by Chain/Saw and CutMod. Something like Stark’s own version of KidPix, Digital Paint invites collectors to “engage and play with unique brush shapes, psychedelic color palettes, and undulating backdrops.” In other words, collectors create a work using elements created and curated by Stark. 


Counting Change by Michelle Viljoen

In a similarly collaborative tenor, Transient Labs launched its Story Inscriptions capabilities with Michelle Viljoen’s Hidden Stories: Chapter One – Sight of Hand series of photographs. The capacity for Story Inscriptions allows Viljoen and the current holder to add text to the metadata, opening up the ability for collaborative storytelling between the artist and their collectors. 


Still from Tjo’s 2 côtés d’une conscience

Multi-faceted artist Tjo is someone who is constantly experimenting and pushing against the confines of what defines a web3 artwork. Though he’s released many pieces that could’ve easily been highlighted here — such as Compulsive Obsessions, 2 côtés d’une conscience, or he who was scared of the Truth — I’ve decided to point to Prozac Youth. Built as a mock web forum, Prozac Youth currently contains only one page that doesn’t return an intentional 404 message (It’s the link Dear Human, to save you some clicks). The only currently published section contains a mix of poetry and direct address from the artist stating his intentions for the piece as an ongoing on-chain blog, a text art project with no defined boundaries or end. 

Luis Ponce’s Interface of Perception may be the most complex interactive piece in this article. Ponce make use of the cursor-following ability that Cowart did in the Lightograph series to animate a screenful of eyeballs, but be careful: overstimulation leads to reddening sclera and engorged blood vessels until the eyes refuse to cooperate out of sheer exhaustion. Beyond that, there are secret codes to uncover. By clicking three eyeballs in the correct order, the collector unveils a unique 1/1 artwork buried within the piece, and there are six of these 1/1s humming beneath the bustling surface of roaming eyeballs. 


Still from Interface of Perception by Luis Ponce

Limitations

Speaking to Ben Struass about “the evolution of passive artwork to dynamic artwork,” Ben predicted a world in which — having reached a certain ubiquity with digital art screens — as “the sun sets outside my window, all my art pieces would dim down and go into night mode with a different scene at night. And then in the morning, they would just follow the sunrise and go through the reverse back to their daytime view.”

But what’s missing? What every digital art enthusiast most hopes for is, of course, affordable digital art screens of varying aspect ratios and sizes, but also a very simple ingredient missing from all but the most expensive: an iframe that would allow HTML files to load properly. Beyond that, interactions could be helmed by a phone, but it’s not everyone’s teacup to whip out a phone to enjoy art — though, if you’ve been to a museum or gallery lately, it is most people’s. So perhaps after these screens get a basic iframe, some controls for interactivity — like a camera and microphone — could likewise be tacked on for good measure.  


Outroduction

The artists of web3 are brimming with ideas and hamstrung by file types and flat screens. The technical barriers are currently rather high but coming down inch by inch, day by day. My hope is that this article has provided not a comprehensive list of projects (which would be nigh impossible), but a palette of inspiration and thought-starters for the restless web3 artists among us. 

A big thanks to Ben Strauss for providing a detailed and generous walkthrough of HTML-based projects on Transient Labs and elsewhere

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

LATEST POSTS

Winklevoss Twins Donate $2 Million in Bitcoin to Donald Trump

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, co-founders of cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, have donated 30.94 Bitcoin, valued at over $2 million, to former President Donald Trump's campaign....

Marathon Uses Bitcoin Mining To Heat Town of 11,000 in Finland

Today, Marathon Digital Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: MARA), a leader in Bitcoin mining, has launched an innovative pilot project to recycle heat generated from Bitcoin...

Why Broadcom’s (AVGO) 10-for-1 Stock Split Could Attract a New Wave of Investors

Broadcom Inc. (AVGO), a prominent player in the semiconductor industry, announced a 10-for-1 forward stock split set to take effect on July 15, 2024,...

5 Best Cheap Crypto to Buy Now Under 1 Dollar June 20 – Flow, polygon, Hedera, Gala

Join Our Telegram channel to stay up to date on breaking news coverage The crypto market experienced substantial fluctuations in June due to sentiment surrounding...

Most Popular