Eternal Harmony

Eternal Harmony

Combining analog and digital art on the blockchain (essay)

December 2022

The intersection of analog and digital art has been a major theme for me in working with NFT since I started creating it in early 2021.

My base media is organic materials, I have always painted with real watercolors, pastels, and oils. I continue to use them even in my web work because physical contact with the form is fundamental to me.

In addition to the author's supervision of the work, which remains in fully digital work, there is also an invisible connection between the author’s psyche and what the body expresses in the analog creative process.

I would call it reversibility between psychic potency and the expressed image, they are one and the same but in a different state.

The whole form and images have a direct connection with the state of the author's psyche. And in my opinion, lines are not just dashes on paper—they are a reflection of specific mental objects in the form of images on paper.

That is why physical contact with work is so important to me. I can fully express myself on the canvas and merge with it, while consciously controlling the appearance of certain images and thinking about how they will affect the viewer.

I am particularly helped by the high complexity of color and texture form, which possess analog carriers. Their richness and depth for me are not comparable to digital media.

So at first I just scanned my analog work in high resolution and minted it as NFT. Moreover, they looked and felt like a complex generation, because stylistically I am somewhat close to generative art.

“Beautiful sedation of the soul”, 1/1, 2020

But I thought that the scan reduces the value of analog work, because it works better in real life, affecting all the senses of the viewer. So I was trying to figure out how to keep the features of analog and combine them with digital and blockchain capabilities to come up with a new formula.

Jason Bailey (Artnome) in his article “Why Love Generative Art?” wrote something that expressed my turning point well:

“Unlike analog art, where complexity and scale require exponentially more effort and time, computers excel at repeating processes near endlessly without exhaustion. As we will see, the ease with which computers can generate complex images contributes greatly to the aesthetic of generative art”.

But is it possible to try to combine the best of both approaches?

I conceptualised the digital canvas as a dynamic and unlimited space with a deep perspective. It can make the picture autonomous and changing in combination with generative algorithms.

I used that as a new type of workspace while thinking about the artwork as an analog and digital artist at the same time. I started by reimagining composition to work analogously and then connecting visual objects on the web in a harmonious way.

"Eternal Harmony", Compositional principles, 2022

Then I deconstructed my 1/1 work and found a number of complex patterns, due to which I divided the composition into zones and layers. This gave me the opportunity to work with many visual ideas within the same canvas.

And finally, I developed a workflow for creating and transferring analog-drawn pieces to digital format.

  • 1. I draw analog elements in a special coordinate system;
  • 2. Then I scan them in high resolution;
  • 3. And process the contours of each element with a digital brush;
  • 4. After that, all these pieces are loaded into an algorithm that randomly generates a lot of original paintings.

"Eternal Harmony", Original elements, 2022

“Eternal Harmony”, Test generation, 2022

When I first saw the result I was surprised at the presence of visual depth in the painting, which came from the collage-like overlay of elements. They also have a unique subtle edge highlighting that I love. This is the result of processing with a digital brush.

These works are perceived as real analog paintings, but then you realise that this is digital art and it becomes difficult to comprehend it. These randomly selected images appear before you, as if reflected in the water, then they merge into a single mass and bulge from different angles.

I think it's an algorithmic effect that shows up in analog art. After all, it is analog generative art in the way it was created, but it is digital art in terms of form. The complexity and soulfulness of analogy, which is multiplied by the capabilities of the computer.

But I decided to go further and create something like an “eternal painting” that could change without my participation and even after my life.

I was influenced by “SALT V4” by Figure31 and 0xmons. They created 180 NFTs with photos, which are moved between all the tokens day after day. This happens based on block.timestamp in Ethereum and technically this is an interesting and important detail.

I used the same principle, but went the other way and focused on constant image regeneration.

Each NFT in "Eternal Harmony" reflects a painting that only lasts for three days, and then it regenerates into a new one from a pack of elements that I created. There are so many possible combinations that we and our descendants will be able to see in the future.

Why does this happen every three days? I chose this time from the point of view of harmony. I felt that seeing a new painting every day was tiring. You won't have enough time to live through it. So it's like an unusual meeting that will be the last, but you have three days to enjoy it.

Technically, it is real-time generated art on the blockchain.

  • 1. The generation of paintings takes place on the Ethereum blockchain, and the elements from which the paintings are generated are stored in the Arweave decentralized storage;
  • 2. When you open NFT, the script downloads elements from Arweave and renders them in real time to HTML on a canvas right in front of you;
  • 3. Each painting is randomly generated from a set of attributes based on block.timestamp and token ID, and its states are not stored in any way. Even I don't know what the next generation will be.

“Eternal Harmony”, Technology, 2022

“Eternal Harmony”, Ever-changing process, 2022

Through this work I solved several problems that have interested me in recent years. I divided them into two groups: (1) formation problems and (2) meaning problems.

(1) formation problems:

— I found a way to combine analog complexity (in terms of composition, texture, color, and direct human involvement in the creative process) with digital scaling capabilities.

— I also managed to preserve the connection between the author’s psyche and body in generative art. This gives me the ability to control the creation of form and imagery with the same level of physical sensibility that I use to paint any of my work.

(2) meaning problems:

— The main task of Eternal Harmony is to restore and inspire the viewer. These are very energetically filled paintings with a positive effect. They only have harmonious, soft, and light images. And it is important that they are analogous in texture and colors. This enhances the effect and has more connection with our natural way of perceiving real things.

— I hope you get a chance to have your “Harmonies” to get a personal experience. I create a sufficient number of them thanks to generativity. And it seems I have never created so many good paintings in such a short time!

Thanks for the inspiration to Figure31 and 0xmons (SALT V4), DEAFBEEF (Series 3 - Entropy), Transient Labs (The 24 Series), Alpha Centauri Kid and yungwknd (Ethereal Rose), Crash Blossom (Burner), Cory Haber (SOL - 365), Marcel Schwittlick (Upward Spiral), and Art Blocks.

Special thanks to Jason Bailey (Artnome) and Sam Spike (JPEG, Finiliars, Fingerprints DAO) for the in-depth analysis of experimental NFT projects. I studied it and it helped me in my creative process.

Purchase your “Harmony” here