TLDR: Why Generative Art Matters
The Top Expert Takes
There’s more to generative art than “number go up.” Wild, right?
It’s a unique digital art form with a storied history, using autonomous processes and algorithms to create visually stunning outputs.
When this process combines with blockchain technology and NFTs, it’s a perfect fit.
But why exactly does generative art matter? Here are a couple of the top expert takes. Look for the blue highlights for the TLDR version. Oops.
A TOOL FOR EXPLORING OUR DIGITAL WORLD
Renowned artist Tyler Hobbs (of Fidenza fame) compared exploring coding as an art medium to when steel and concrete were first used to create modern cities.
On their own, steel and concrete are cold and hard. It took architects with a vision to weave them into the dynamics of cities and inject emotion into these materials.
Hobbs argues that generative art is important because it “works with the essence of what shapes our new digital worlds; our future lives will be built with it.”
A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN: GEN ART X VERIFIABLE SCARCITY
Generative art has a history going back all the way back to 1950, with artists experimenting with geometric shapes and disorder.
In the 1960s, as programming languages matured, computers were empowered to make their own design decisions given a pre-programmed set of variables. This would be the foundation of generative art as we know it in our digital wallets today.
While traditional art has become extremely popular over the last 70ish years, especially with the pop art movement, generative art faded a bit into the background in terms of notoriety. When the blockchain came about to enable verifiable scarcity, it changed the game.
Derek Edward Schloss and Stephen McKeon’s essay on Generative Media explains more on why they think generative art is important:
For the first time, creative digital works could enjoy verifiable scarcity, empowering the artist to endow authenticity and salability to downstream collectors of a digital creation.
AN EVOLVING FRAMEWORK
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The joke we say in NFTs is: “wow, this looked so much better when it was worth $100,000!”
You could say the same for some traditional works of modern art which are extremely valuable, yet most can’t understand why (“my three-year-old could draw that!”).
Since generative art generally involves the use of code, it begs the question:
What is the actual “art” part of generative art? The algorithm? The visual output? The idea behind the art?
Artist and writer Peter Bauman created a framework to analyze various generative artists and their approaches to these questions.
He says generative art is important because the nature of the medium allows for a continuously evolving framework to evaluate it. “Just like the generative system, these limitations can be powerful tools.”
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AN ACT OF FAITH & COLLABORATION
Punk6529 is one of the most iconic collectors and creators in the NFT world. When his fund purchased Dmitri Cherniak’s “The Goose” Ringer for a staggering $6.2 million, he wrote a thread on why.
Long-form generative art means that the artist does not control the outputs or curate any of them ahead of time. All the works that come from the algorithm are a surprise to both the minter and the artist.
It’s unique to the generative art form and is “the most magical part about it” in his tweet below.
While generative art supply should still be scarce, the ability to output thousands of works within one project makes it possible for artists to reach new collectors around the world.
Transacting on the blockchain also makes for permissionless, seamless, and transparent distribution, tapping into new sources of liquidity.
Art Blocks founder Snowfro goes into more detail about why he thinks generative art is important:
There’s a reason why some of the most prolific collectors in the space have their eye (and their $$) on generative art.
We may no longer be in the height of 2021 Art Blocks bull run madness, but even traditional auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s have caught onto the magic of it.
All I know is, if I knew how to do more than write MySpace-level HTML, I’d be studying up on some art fundamentals.
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