Challenging the Async tool
Updated: Sep 15, 2022
When a new tool is available to an artist, it doesn't take long for them to explore other ways of using that tool than it was originally intended for. For example, playing the guitar with a violin bow, using the back of a brush or making a sculpture out of butter.
Joseph Beuys ‘Fat Chair’ (1964–1985)
What are Async Blueprints?
The services Async provides are powerful tools. Async Blueprints allow you to
place art on the blockchain with the help of the public. A digital work usually consists of separate layers that form an image. Let’s take the example of a figure which can either wear a blue or a yellow coat. You’d think an artist would choose one of the two, but with Blueprints both layers can be uploaded and the algorithm chooses which it will be.
The unique combinations for a Blueprint are often extraordinary high (mostly in the millions or even billions). However, the artist determines how many editions can be minted before the drop. If this is 1000, it's far below the possible unique combinations. So, the majority of potential Blueprints will actually never exist. Also, if no one mints an edition, the artwork does not see the light of day at all. How fascinating!
What does it mean conceptually?
In art school I learned that half of a work of art belongs to the artist and the other half belongs to the public. They interpret the work as they please. As a creator, you just point in the direction where you've found something extraordinary that you wish to share. With blueprints however, you also need the audience for the work to come to life. They too become half tool, half collaborator. To relinquish even more control, as a maker you don't even control what the work will look like. The algorithm determines that.
By minting a blueprint, you as a buyer also take a gamble. Usually, you know something about the work, but not which variant you get. There are more uncertainties: will you be on the allow list, will it sell out, will there be lively trading on the secondary market?
The space has been quiet for months due to the bear market. NFTs were heavily dominated by PFP projects, but now most projects stand idle.
You can even think of Blueprints as PFPs for artworks. Undoubtedly that will make a lot of people uncomfortable, but the resemblance is not far off. The difference is that art has an artistic value that is more important than a commercial one. So, it comes as no surprise that art projects are flourishing now that the market is struggling.
Challenging the tool
With this work I am exploring the Async tool. I like the uncertainty of Blueprints: which edition do you get after mint? But I wanted to see if I could regain control over the algorithm. What if each layer is its own artwork and has no variation? And instead of having many editions, "Tales of medieval Syria" has only three. Can Blueprints handle such small editions?
How I used Blueprints this time
The Blueprint consists of only one layer with three states. Every state covers the entire image and is a unique artwork. With a maximum of three editions, every state will be drawn. The only uncertainty is: which artwork will you get? I am sure Async didn't have this approach in mind when they made the tool and that is precisely why it is relevant.
One thousand gatekeepers of the most exhilarating pond in paradise
I think this work is a wonderful addition to my previous Blueprint "One thousand gatekeepers of the most exhilarating pond in paradise". Challenging a medium is exciting to me, because I don't know what to expect. Does my audience trust me enough that they dare buy blindly? Does the Async audience appreciate my approach? After all, they are fans of generative art and I neglect that element completely.
"Tales of medieval Syria" is the first of its kind for Async. I'm curious to see what new ways artists will find to use this tool. And what does it all mean anyways? Will it make a difference? If it does, I hope it's not merely about the conceptual approach, but about the artistic value of the three layers as well. Because I am way too much of a visual artist to just leave it at a concept.