Enter the Rabbit Hole: The Doge-Ethereum Art Project

The Doge-Ethereum art project at ETHDenver.

Two years ago, a handful of anonymous crypto hodlers funded a bounty for the development of the Doge-Ethereum bridge.

Truebit recently won part of this bounty.

The Doge-Ethereum bridge allows one to move coins between the Doge and Ethereum blockchains.

You send a transaction on the Dogecoin blockchain forfeiting control of your coins, and an Ethereum contract mints you an equal number of EthDoge (or should I say WOW) ERC20 tokens.

You can then use these tokens within the ethereum ecosystem — send them to smart contracts, trade them on decentralized exchanges, or use them to buy cryptokitties.

At any point, a WOW token holder can burn their tokens and receive Dogecoins back on the Doge chain. This completes the bridge.

To get into the history of the bridge and why it matters, refer to this tweetstorm from Alex van de Sande:

The sticking point, and the reason why the bridge hadn’t been built so far, is that the Ethereum relay needs to verify Dogecoin’s Proof-of-Work. Scrypt is a memory-hard and computationally intensive function, and cannot be computed within the Ethereum block gas limit.

The community has been playing with different solutions for years — you can see Vitalik’s 2015 solution of splitting Scrypt into multiple transactions here.

The problem eventually drew the attention of Christian Reitwiessner and Jason Teutsch and was a good proof of concept for Truebit. One would run Scrypt off-chain and verify it using Truebit’s interactive protocol.

We recently demoed this system on the Rinkeby testnet.

Truebit verification for Scrypt on the Rinkeby testnet

We were awarded 25% of the bounty for the progress shown in the demo.

We shared this with our collaborators Oscar Guinzberg and Coinfabrik, who built the ERC20 contract and the DogeRelay contract and client.

Truebit received $120k.

So what does a team do with this much money?

Jason, Truebit’s founder, had decided from the beginning that we would give the entire sum away to fund a massive open-source art project.

A physical representation of the Doge-Ethereum bridge.

This seemed in line with our core values at Truebit — having fun and giving back to the community while we work on high-impact research and engineering.

The Doge-Ethereum art project

Jessica Angel, a brilliant NYC-based artist, came to answer our calls.

She signed up as the art director for the project.

In one of her first bursts of creativity — she decided that building a normal bridge would be too boring. A bridge has one end and another; it shows separation. We want to show community and togetherness; bridging Ethereum and Dogecoin; bridging the onchain and the offchain worlds.

She was inspired by the mobius bridge.

the Mobius bridge design in Bristol

After some noodling and wireframing, she came across the concept of a Klein bottle.

The Klein bottle is a mathematical object. It’s created by taking a torus and bending it onto itself.

It has no inside or outside.

Jessica’s evolving design for the Klein bottle

You walk through a tunnel to enter a cavern.

It will fit 40 people at a time.

And it will be based in New York; in Central Park, Governors Island, or another public space pending permits.

Open-source art

What if we took a cue from open-source software and built this as an open-source art project?

Artists submit ideas and proposals to Jessica — ideas for what to add to the bridge.

Lights, sounds, interactions, movement.

The Klein bottle could have a wall covered with LEDs. As Ethereum moves forward steadily with each new block created, the LED wall splashes with colors derived from the current block hash.

Or we could involve sound — every time a Doge block is created, there is a deep bass sound; every time an Ethereum block is created, a higher-frequency snare kicks in; every time there is a Truebit verification game and a solver’s solution is challenged, the Jaws soundtrack plays.

The Rabbit Hole

Which brings me to this weekend and ETHDenver.

Jessica, Holly, Emily, and Lindy had organized a maker space for having ETHDenverites hack on blockchain art.

It was at the introductory session that the conversation clicked in our group of 20.

As we went around the room, people shared stories of how they first heard about blockchains and fell into the rabbit hole.

We’d been so far referring to this amorphous project as the Doge-Ethereum art project, the Klein bottle, .. but none of the names had stuck.

That’s when Lane dropped a gem — we should call it “the rabbit hole”.

It fit. You walk into the narrow Klein bottle entrance to get to the main chamber. Just like a rabbit hole.

We talked about how we could make blockchains more understandable. Blockchains are abstract. Could we make them tangible?

Then, prodded by a comment from Will, ideas began to crystallize…

The EthDenver maker space — the room started as a blank slate, and was transformed into a lively spot filled with interactive art over the weekend!

The Physical Blockchain

The bridge would have it’s own EVM sidechain.

And it would have its own Proof-of-Work.

Proof-of-Work as in real physical labor.

There would be a big button in some corner; every hundred times someone presses it, a block is created on the chain. A real block that you could see on a block explorer.

Or there could be a treadmill, and a block is created every time someone runs a mile.

Or instead of a treadmill, it could be a hamster’s wheel — to emphasize that it is “useless” work, as in Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Maybe the proof-of-work could be dancing — as measured by pressure sensors in the ground.

We could collectively mine the genesis block at the opening — with a big dance party at the strike of midnight (this one was Robbie’s idea).

How could we visualize the network, the peer-to-peer layer? When the proof-of-work is complete and a block is created, a trail of LEDs would show it being relayed around the structure.

Santiago and Manuel were in the room and dropped a doozy — in the real Ethereum network, miners compete to get the required proof of work first. In the same way, we could have multiple buttons at different spots in the bridge. People would compete for creating the next block — whoever makes it first, gets the block reward, while the other proofs-of-work go to waste.

What if a group of fit people visited the installation? Being fast runners, they would hit the one mile proof-of-work on the treadmills quickly, and create blocks too frequently.

We would need a difficulty adjustment algorithm.

The treadmill would autonomously increase it’s incline; increasing the resources needed for getting the proof-of-work.

Participants would receive tokens as a block reward or from playing games within the structure.

A relay — using the Parity bridge, the Gridplus bridge, or the PoA network bridge — could be used to move tokens from the installation chain to mainnet Ethereum. We could leave people with a memento of their visit.


A physical blockchain. Real proof of work, miners competing, lights showing the P2P layer, coins you could take home.

Abstract concepts made tangible.

So respect. Much wow.

The Decentralized Art Community

The Doge-Ethereum installation and how we coordinate around it could form the basis of an ongoing Decentralized Art Community.

Artists fundraise using the blockchain; donators follow projects they’re interested in; interactions happen on and off chain.

Holly Chang, a community builder and burning man aficionado, is leading the charge here.

She’s coordinating with some of the best teams in the space to bootstrap this community; Giveth as the transparent platform for funding and following projects; Aragon as the organizational backbone for voting on proposals and governance.

Fin

The Truebit Doge-Etheruem bounty provides the first piece of funding.

Now it’s a community effort.

Let’s build something f*cking awesome, and show the world how blockchains work.

To learn more or get involved, visit the art project website or join our Telegram group.

We are hosting events in SF and NYC soon to meet with the community.


Shoutout to everyone who has helped push this project forward so far — Jessica Angel, Holly Chang, Lindy Wilkins, Robbie Bent, Emily Hunter, Jason Teutsch, Karen Teutsch, Will King, Matt Condon, Aqeel Mohammad, Chris Hutchinson, Brady McKenna, Océane Boulais, Will Meier, and Lane Rettig.

Say hi to me on Twitter!