A Tezos Platform for Hybrid Art
In her landmark Glitch Studies Manifesto, Rosa Menkman said:
“I manipulate, bend and break any medium towards the point where it becomes something new. This is what I call glitch art.”
With the massive popularity of generative art in the crypto space, there has been a growing gap for glitch artists who manipulate rather than create, a divide between the platforms that can take code and create a body of work and the artists using raw materials that they bend and break to create something new. Some of this is for practical reasons: there isn’t a great way to have a large source of material that is automatically broken or bent with the same collector-created entropy that comes with clicking “mint.”
Glitch Forge was built as a way to create genuine hybrid art with glitch aesthetics that takes the raw material provided by one artist and melts it down and forges it with the code of another artist into something new from that material: something surprising and original. Because we host the source imagery and have to ensure the code functions smoothly, the platform uses a curation method in order to be able to help coders and digital artists to create a program that draws from a giant pool of raw material data that we host ourselves using code that we help test. This means that relatively high resolution designs can be processed and rearranged using transaction hashes to determine unique parameters for each piece. Drawing from a body of raw material, however, means that there are limits to the infinite combinatorial possibilities, and so our collections remain small by crypto-collectible or crypto-art standards.
Our goal is to provide a place for visionary artists who do not work in typical generative art ways to create projects that function like generative art in the end-user experience. Taking the thrill of mint creation and integrating it with glitch programs that have previously had no way to function on generative platforms because they required image data libraries that couldn’t be hosted or called upon there. The prevailing metaphor is in the title — this is a forge where raw materials become art through breaking and manipulating and bending into something new.
We built Glitch Forge on Tezos because we wanted it to be affordable for artists and collectors to create and mint and because Tezos has a thriving art-centric culture in the wake of platforms like Hic Et Nunc, Teia, OBJKT, and fxhash. Fundamentally, we wanted the art to take center stage over tangential concerns like gas fees and finance.
That said, we did want the minting process itself to be fun and involve some kind of original game-like mechanics. We also wanted price discovery to be found with some method besides dull auctions or random guessing. What we came up with is a way to let the collectors bids both create the art, and then further bids during the same auction establish which results people value the most. By separating each project into groups of 32, we have an auction for each group of 32 potential mints. The collectors see their result when they bid, and have the opportunity to bid more to keep it in the top 32 slots. Whenever a collector makes a bid that pushes the bottom of the current 32 out, that piece gets “smelted” — it is eventually deleted and never minted on-chain. Through this mechanic, the collectors can decide not to bid their creations further into being minted, ensuring that only the best results actually become official parts of the collection.
After our pilot collection entitled “Forge Awaken” we intend to onboard interested coders and glitch artists and help bring their ideas to life creating mint-able collections. The goal is to become a hub of collaborative art that walks the line between being “generative” and “glitch” — art that couldn’t work without brilliant coders but might never reach its final form without glitch artists pouring their ideas into the code. We have no official roadmap, but imagine eventually integrating even more difficult mediums like video, more error-oriented glitch art, and even analog processes (if we can figure that one out).
The value added to the entire NFT space is that glitch artists who weren’t coders and coders who liked working with raster data can work together to finally produce quality work at the volumes usually only seen with strictly generative projects. This helps glitch artists compete with the new class of generative artists and also facilitates collection metrics like price floors and sales volumes that seem difficult to track or quantify with a relatively small amount of creative output.