Types of On-Chain Projects So Far… What’s Next?

Druid
The Link — Art Blocks
14 min readOct 3, 2021

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As the project list on Art Blocks grows, so does our idea of what’s possible for on-chain generative art. We’ve seen fantastic static and dynamic images, but it feels like the bar is continually raised with creative coders pushing the art form forward.

I’m curious where this all leads or if there is a natural limit for the types of experiences possible on Art Blocks. So let’s take a look at some examples of what we’ve seen so far.

Protip: I’ve included links to the ‘Live View’ for each project in this list, and I strongly suggest you check out the live view link for every project outside of the ‘Static’ section. I include a preview image in the article, but it really does no justice.

Static

I won’t spend too much time here — we are all familiar with amazing static projects, but I’ll share a few of my favorites. Each of these projects challenged what I thought was capable with code-based art.

Memories of Qilin— Emily Xie

Memories of Qilin #442 — Emily Xie

Memories of Qilin is inspired by traditional East Asian art. It channels the sense of movement and fluidity found in classical Chinese brushwork, while drawing from the colors, patterns, and forms of ukiyo-e woodblock prints.

The series explores elements of folklore, evoking the mythological imagery of dragons, phoenixes, flowers, and mountains. The title references a fabled chimerical beast found throughout East Asian mythology (while the qilin is its Chinese name, it is also known in Korea as the girin and Japan as the kirin) that represents prosperity and luck.

Viewers are invited to interpret elusive forms that verge on representation. As with the stories passed on through generations, each piece is imagined, organic, and ever-in-flux.

Made with p5js

Live View: https://generator.artblocks.io/0xa7d8d9ef8d8ce8992df33d8b8cf4aebabd5bd270/282000442

Trossets — Anna Carreras

Trossets #931 — Anna Carreras

Trossets explores the emergence of diversity. Combining twelve construction blocks the system generates endless patterns with a unique result each iteration. Trossets /trusɛts/ means parts, blocks, pieces and it's my particular homage to a classical generative system, the multiscale Truchet tiles. The systems plays an interlocking blocks game creating unexpected drawings with colors borrowed from the Mediterranean.

Made with p5js

Live View: https://generator.artblocks.io/0xa7d8d9ef8d8ce8992df33d8b8cf4aebabd5bd270/147000931

Running Moon— Licia He

Running Moon #165 — Licia He

Running Moon depicts the nuanced interaction between clouds and moonlight. It is a search for boundaries between structure and fluidity, precision and errors. It is a quest for harmony.

The rendering of Running Moon is inspired by stained glass and watercolor. It captures the sharpness of the glass and the softness of light using abstract forms. As organic shapes gradually expand to fill the space, brush-pen-like stripes solder these pieces together to form intricate compositions.

Made with JavaScript

Live View: https://generator.artblocks.io/0xa7d8d9ef8d8ce8992df33d8b8cf4aebabd5bd270/334000165

Anticyclone — William Mapan

Anticyclone #470 — William Mapan

Anticyclones are a weather phenomena. They pierce through darkness to instill peace and calm. Their planetary scale reminds us of how little we are and how powerful they can be.

High pressure, rotation, air flow… The “Anticyclone” series is an artistic exploration and interpretation of those concepts.

The rendering borrows its aesthetics from traditional and organic media like paper and crayons, to lend an analog/archival look.

“Can a computer draw like a human?” The question is asked and challenged once more through “Anticyclone”.

Made with threejs

Live View: https://generator.artblocks.io/0xa7d8d9ef8d8ce8992df33d8b8cf4aebabd5bd270/304000470

Fragments of an Infinite Field— Monica Rizzolli

Fragments of an Infinite Field #248 — Monica Rizzolli

“Fragments of an infinite field” is a compositional system in which an idealized plant species is generated and arranged in a potentially infinite field of foliage. The main environmental parameter of the composition is the determination of a season of the year. The season determines the landscape’s colors and defines specific phenomena for each of them, such as rain in summer, snow in winter, petals falling in autumn, and pollen in spring. The flower has several possible variables, which can be macro aspects, affecting the entire population of the species, or micro, affecting each individual of the species differently. For example, the number of petals can be equal in all individuals or not. The number of filaments and other structures of the flower can undergo minor deviations, generating small mutations. The confusion between the figure (plant) and the background (earth, sky, other natural elements) is fascinating from a compositional point of view. The background colors are, most of the time, colors present in the figures, often breaking the boundary between them and, therefore, generating chromatic masses. In this project I also intend to research the following question: How to create parameters that resemble a living organism’s growth? In this sense, the project approaches digital morphogenesis and the development of procedural organisms.

Made with p5js

Live View: https://generator.artblocks.io/0xa7d8d9ef8d8ce8992df33d8b8cf4aebabd5bd270/159000248

Apparitions — Aaron Penne

Apparitions #123 — Aaron Penne

“Apparitions” is an exploration of the space between algorithmic and organic. Each “Apparition” is unique to the transaction that originated it. Created by Aaron Penne.

Made with p5.js.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/28000123

Subscapes — Matt DesLauriers

Subscapes #223 — Matt DesLauriers

A generative algorithm that draws the impression of a landscape from a multitude of possibilities. The unique seed from each token drives the parametric assortment of lines, colors, and forms into a constructed composition.

Made with JavaScript.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/53000223

Messengers — Alexis André

Messengers #15 — Alexis André

Those structures suddenly appeared, yet they don’t talk to us. Yet.

Made with JavaScript.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/68000015

Dynamic

Ok, this is where you should start paying attention to the live view links. Each of the pieces from here on is really best viewed in the browser.

Cosmic Reef — Leo Villareal

Cosmic Reef #0 — Leo Villareal

“A particular order can be found in deepest space, in our oceans and forests, and in all living things, including ourselves — a unified code producing endless variation. Gravity and cosmic winds shape star-forming nebulas into coral-like forms. Flowers self-organize in radial symmetry with signals hidden from the human eye. Stars are birthed, explode, collapse, and are reborn. Invertebrates move on the tides of oceans, signaling with ever-changing bioluminescence. Light bends time as events unfold in our own lives.”

Cosmic Reef reflects on the ordered randomness in nature, capable of producing beauty and symmetry. The individual works begin with a simple geometry that becomes more complex through composed dynamic layers, each born of a combination of human control and computational chance.

Leo Villareal creates intricate sculptures that speak to the underlying rules and structures of systems for both gallery and public settings. He is interested in exploring ways to express this through base units such as pixels and binary code. Villareal is most known for two monumental public artworks: The Bay Lights, a site-specific light sculpture that occupies the entire western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and Illuminated River, a series of generative light sculptures installed on nine bridges over the River Thames in London.

Made with threejs

Live View: https://generator.artblocks.io/0xa7d8d9ef8d8ce8992df33d8b8cf4aebabd5bd270/250000000

Vortex — Jen Stark

Vortex #280 — Jen Stark

The phenomena of the spiral is located throughout the natural world, found in everything from nautili and galaxies, to fractals and sacred geometries. Much like the gravitational pull of patterns in the universe, Jen Stark’s series of generative vortexes pays homage to the intricate systems present in our daily lives.

Drawing upon the aesthetic practice of her signature paper sculptures, Stark’s hand-cut techniques are translated to adapt and evolve within the digital realm through code, brought to life through harmonic sine waves.

Click and drag to interact with these sculptural tunnels.Made with Javascript and GLSL

Made with threejs

Live View: https://generator.artblocks.io/0xa7d8d9ef8d8ce8992df33d8b8cf4aebabd5bd270/225000280

The Eternal Pump— Dmitri Cherniak

The Eternal Pump #17 — Dmitri Cherniak

Don’t fight it. Just respect it. Made by Dmitri Cherniak with Javascript and GLSL.

Made with Javascript and GLSL

Live View: https://generator.artblocks.io/0xa7d8d9ef8d8ce8992df33d8b8cf4aebabd5bd270/22000017

Non Either— Rafaël Rozendaal

Non Either #81 — Rafaël Rozendaal

Circles move in, circles move out, some light, some dark. 🌹 The work is responsive, it will adapt to any screen size and resolution.

Made with JavaScript

Live View: https://generator.artblocks.io/0xa7d8d9ef8d8ce8992df33d8b8cf4aebabd5bd270/260000081

CENTURY— Casey REAS

CENTURY #904 — Casey REAS

CENTURY is my homage to paintings and drawings from the twentieth century and the countless hours I’ve spent looking at them. The references span the origins of concrete and non-objective art to color-field painting and minimalism. The strongest direct reference is a series of pictures created by Ellsworth Kelly in the 1950s where he cut his paintings into pieces and reassembled them in different orders. CENTURY creates a distinct picture for each unique transaction hash, and you can “cut” and “reassemble” it in different ways by pressing ‘1’ on your keyboard. Press ‘2’ to put the slices in the original order. These are landscapes; they look best large and in motion running as live code.

Made with p5js

Live View: https://generator.artblocks.io/0xa7d8d9ef8d8ce8992df33d8b8cf4aebabd5bd270/100000904

Return — Aaron Penne

Apparitions #7 — Aaron Penne

“Return” is a meditation on returning inward, cyclical change, and the beauty of iteration. The composition of each piece slowly loops, providing a new experience for the viewer over time. Created by Aaron Penne.

Made with p5.js.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/77000007

HyperHash — Beervangeer

HyperHash #189 — Beervangeer

HyperHash explores the possibilities of representing abstract data on Ethereum as intuitive color and geometry spaces. Focus of research are topics like geometry & symbolism. The artworks generate a futuristic, telepathic & symbolic language for Etherians. All artworks have unique colors, geometry and motion signatures live generated on your gpu through shader (GLSL) code.

Made with p5.js.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/11000189

Glow — Jason Ting

Glow #389 — Jason Ting

In this meditative exploration of color and form, iridescent structures emerge from transformations to a flat plane, each emanating an ethereal glow. [Shortcuts] spacebar: pause/resume, q: toggle quality, s: save screenshot. This artwork is responsive and adapts to any screen size. Note: requires a WebGL2-enabled browser.

Made with threejs

Live View: https://generator.artblocks.io/0xa7d8d9ef8d8ce8992df33d8b8cf4aebabd5bd270/230000389

Interactive

This is where things start to warm up, and the art pieces become interactive.

Colorspace — Tabor Robak

Colorspace #595 — Tabor Robak

Colorspace is a tribute to creating on the computer. An animated painting with programed brushes, erasers, and accents. Based on the gestures of classic screensavers and operating system UI elements.Made with p5.js.

Made with p5js

Live View: https://generator.artblocks.io/0xa7d8d9ef8d8ce8992df33d8b8cf4aebabd5bd270/309000595

Dynamic slices — pxlq

Dynamic Slices #19 — pxlq

An on-chain experiment with interactive abstract art.

Made with p5.js.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/4000019

3D

I remember the first time I saw ge1doot’s project, Ignition. I spent a ton of time going through the mints and changing the perspectives to see all the details. Then, as I played with the pieces, I couldn’t help but think these would make great maps in a game like Portal.

These 3D projects have a world-building feeling to them that I hope someone explores later.

Ignition — ge1doot

Ignition #254 — ge1doot

Launched into crypto-space for the first time, I present my genesis project, a limited series of interactive 3D structures, rotating endlessly from their self-gravitational force. Each token minted is the result of a complex set of rules, an algorithm that processes the transaction hash and generates a unique piece of crypto-art. Purely written in JavaScript, using no external libraries or dependencies of any sort, these voyagers will forever be the testimony of hardcoded workmanship, a heritage of the old times. Deep space, do you copy?

Made with JavaScript.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/9000254

Utopia — ge1doot

Utopia #67 — ge1doot

We were succeeding at creating a reflect of the old home place in our new land. We hoped we had not re-created our mistakes.

Made with JavaScript.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/15000067

Democracity — Generative Artworks

Democracity #324 — Generative Artworks

Democracity is inspired by the diorama of the same name at the 1939 New York World’s Fair which depicted a utopian city of the future. This piece satirizes the concept showing that the optimism of the 1930’s did not account for the problems of the future brought about by climate change such as flooding. This piece is fully interactive with the best way to experience it being to explore and try to understand the stories that the different city layouts are trying to tell you.

Made with Three.js.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/162000324

Functional

We haven’t seen many generative pieces that are functional in the real world, but Alexis André nailed it with 720 Minutes. Each piece is a functional clock that tells your system’s time. You’d be surprised how many people don’t realize that.

Also, and way cooler than being a clock, each piece has a ‘special’ time where the piece goes absolutely bonkers. And you’d be surprised how many more people don’t know that either.

I’ve linked the Live View for 720 Minutes #219 below, and its special time is 9:31 (am and pm). If you remember, check out the Live View during that time.

720 Minutes — Alexis André

720 Minutes #219 — Alexis André

A real-time live interactive piece that also acts as a clock. 720 unique ways to show the current time, one per minute over twelve hours. Each clock will activate on its given minute, giving you a special moment every twelve hours to consider what one minute means to you.

Made with JavaScript.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/27000219

Audio/Visual

Incorporating sound into visual art has been very interesting and rarely tried. There are only a handful of projects that include sound, and the two below are great examples of different approaches.

AlgoRhythms has a friendly and approachable aesthetic. The look is matched by fun ‘songs’ that are randomly generated. I remember when I first found this project, I didn’t realize it played music. But when I discovered it, I spent the next 45 minutes with a huge smile on my face as I scrolled the test mints.

Rituals are, to me, the polar opposite. Visually, I feel like the pieces are taking me down a rabbit hole, and the music generates a meditative experience. On the other hand, where AlgoRhythms was a fun piece, Rituals is deeply personal.

AlgoRhythms — Han x Nicolas Daniel

AlgoRhythms #860 — Han x Nicolas Daniel

AlgoRhythms is a collection of generative audio-visual data sculptures. Each unique hash drives the combination of colors, patterns and musical scales into a music box.

Made with Tone.js.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/64000860

Rituals — Venice — Aaron Penne x Boreta

Rituals — Venice #56 — Aaron Penne x Boreta

Rituals combines generative music and generative artwork to create 1000 unique windows into a singular parametric universe. The music and art are crafted to infinitely evolve, giving collectors a subtly new experience upon each viewing. If left running, a single Ritual will continue generating music and art without repeating for ~9 million years. We invite you to hold space for yourself and enjoy a moment of mindful stillness. The first 200 were minted IRL in Venice, CA, USA in September 2021. Best experienced on modern equipment.

Made with Tone.js.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/172000056

Gaming

Ask anyone in the know what’s the next frontier of NFTs and generative art, and they are likely to have gaming on the tip of their tongue. To date, there has only been one project that tried to tackle an on-chain generative game, and it’s a blast! I highly recommend you check this one out (and try to beat my score).

celestial cyclones — hideo

celestial cyclones #226 — hideo

An interactive experience inspired by the classic breakout game. Destroy all the orbiting barriers and reach the core, while creating your own unique melody. Controls: Click to start. Left and right arrow keys or Mouse/trackpad to control the baton. P to pause. Look out for power-ups!

Made with Three.js.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/113000226

Metaverse ready

Ok, this one is aspirational, but Xenoliss mentioned a larger universe to explore for Galaxiss pieces, and I can’t get it out of my head. I would love to use my Galaxiss as an access token to build and explore other planets in the collection.

Galaxiss — Xenoliss

Galaxiss #344 — Xenoliss

As the first on chain generative planets, I present my Galaxiss project. Each planet uses several layers of complex noises to generate nearly infinite variations of terrain, shapes, and biomes. Check out the lost airplane that has been signaled flying around and if you’re lucky you might even catch another surprise chopper! Collect planets and build the Galaxiss of your dream!

Made with Three.js.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/31000344

VR

I had to include what, I think, is one of the most ambitious projects on Art Blocks, Beatboxes. These are on-chain generative virtual reality worlds!

Beatboxes — Zeblocks

Beatboxes #431 — Zeblocks

Beatboxes are fully immersive, virtual reality, audiovisual generative art on the Ethereum blockchain. Beatboxes consist of 841 generated unique rooms where you can fully immerse yourself with any virtual reality device. You can also enjoy them from your pc in a more conventional way. Beatboxes are our second experimental piece of art, following the successful release of Unigrids. The goal with this collection was to create an environment where you can escape your reality for a moment and enjoy your unique piece of art while stimulating the most senses possible. You can open your eyes inside your unique art piece and explore by looking around and listening as you enjoy something you own. In live view use arrows to move around and spacebar to start the music and animation. Visit beatboxes.io to browse all Beatboxes more easily, Have fun!

Made with A-Frame.

Live View: https://api.artblocks.io/generator/145000431

What’s Next?

This is where it gets really exciting because I don’t know! Creative coders are constantly building experiences that push the limits of what’s possible for on-chain generative art, so I wouldn’t pretend to know where this is all heading. But if the past year of Art Blocks projects has taught me anything, it’s not to underestimate the talented folks that are cooking up some of the best crypto-native art.

What do you think? Did I miss any groundbreaking project? Is there something you want to see next? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or over in Discord. Also, feel free to tag me if you’d like to chat about the possibilities for on-chain art.

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