On Gasless Autonomous Art and Using Time as a Paintbrush

Written by
Conlan Rios

On Gasless Autonomous Art and Using Time as a Paintbrush

Written by
Conlan Rios

On Gasless Autonomous Art and Using Time as a Paintbrush

Written by
Conlan Rios

When we first announced “Autonomous Art” back in April, we were excited to see what would happen when computers (rather than humans) were given control over programmable Layers and update the artwork according to real world data.

We saw artists use this to represent cryptocurrency prices in “Ether Makes the Moon go Around” and “Right Place & Right Time” while others opted to build Layers on time itself with “Dictatorship” or “Still Life with Silver Apple”. These were fascinating experiments, all of which used Gas Tanks to fuel their autonomous Layer updates.

With the recent rise in gas prices, it’s clear that this approach is too constraining for both artists and collectors to work at scale. Because of this, we went back to the drawing board to figure how to offer this Async feature in a more sustainable way.

After thinking deeply on what rules programmable art must abide by, we consolidated on these:

  • 1) Programmable Art must be universally renderable. Anyone in the world must have access to the renderer.
  • 2) Programmable Art must be consistent. If you and I independently render the art at the same time then we must see the same image.
  • 3) Programmable Art must be retroactive. If you and I independently render the art as of a specific block height (past state of the Master), then we must see the same image.

When all 3 of these rules are followed, then the art shown in our gallery and across other platforms is truly the canonical version of that piece.

The first rule is covered as both our contracts and rendering code have been open source since launch. We’ve also covered the second and third rules since up until now the only data to alter our art has been on-chain; immutable and never changing.

Moving forward within this framework, we can for the first time offer artists the ability to paint with time under a new feature that we’re calling, “Gasless Autonomous Art”.

Time is constant and every networked computer in the world knows exactly what time it is. Every block in the Ethereum blockchain has an associated timestamp that all nodes agree upon. By allowing artists to specify conditional rules for their programmable Layers, we can abide by the 3 programmable art laws.

Here’s an example: suppose an artist wanted to create a piece that changed its background between 2 different states; one for day and one for night.

With the previous toolset, they would have to grant permission to a computer to change the background Layer. Each day, that computer would submit 2 transactions to the blockchain, once at 6am and once at 6pm. The computer would submit its transactions through the Gas Tank, like as in Rutger's "Day/Night".

With Gasless Autonomous Art, the artist instead provides conditional rules in the Layout file for their piece. When the renderer comes to the background Layer in the render process, it’s instructed to use the current UTC time as the deciding factor rather than a Layer token value. (Think of this as writing the instructions into the DNA of the work itself)

If you and I independently render this artwork at the same time, we’ll see the same background state.

This is the first of many options we’re offering artists as we develop more tools for the Gasless Autonomous Art series and we’ve worked with artist /YuraMiron to debut first Gasless autonomous piece: “Beautiful Worlds”.

Learn more about the piece from the artist himself. Check out the magical video cycling thru several of the daily states.

Beautiful Worlds updates once a day at 12am UTC. The artist has crafted 366 different images, with each image to be shown on a different day of the year.

He is auctioning off the priceless piece this Saturday, ending at 10am PST. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Discord to get real-time updates.

We hope you enjoy it. Stay tuned for more pieces in the coming weeks that utilize this feature.

-Async Team