A Time Capsule for Communal Memory: Sam Spratt’s The Monument Game

"Where were you when Sam Spratt's The Monument Game took over crypto Twitter?"

This question is not an exaggeration. Even Nifty Gateway changed their website branding to reference this event. It was the main conversation for an entire month.

Sadly, like a massive parade that leaves behind an empty street, only those who were there remember the energy and the experience of witnessing it in real time. Sure, with enough diligence, you could manually search X to find the bits and pieces of how it unfolded... but there isn't an easy way on X/Twitter to replay that experience in a chronological fashion (assuming you know what and how to look for in the first place!).

This is the story of the evolution of The Monument Game and how Atomic Lore is the solution that keeps all its off-chain artifacts from drifting into oblivion.

Scroll through Tweets curated from the original 30-day period of The Monument Game.
Scroll through Tweets curated from the original 30-day period of The Monument Game.

The Monument Game: A Masterpiece of Interactive and Evolving NFT Art

It’s not just a painting. It’s not just a game, either. With The Monument Game, Sam Spratt created a groundbreaking way of perceiving and interacting with artwork. The Monument Game is composed of several layers:

  • The artwork itself, an impressive digital painting

  • The artist’s intensive storytelling during the time of preparing the launch

  • An interactive component that was available for a limited set of players for a limited time

  • An ongoing stream of discussions, fan art, and more on social media and elsewhere on the Web

Had The Monument Game been “only” a digital painting, it might have held viewers’ attention for only a few seconds. Some wouldn’t even have noticed the rich details hidden in plain sight. However, if you take a close look at the painting in its original 20K resolution, you quickly get an idea about the enormous effort that went into this image. It took more than a year to paint this detailed scene on a screen canvas by hand.

The interactive observations map hosted at Nifty Gateway.
The interactive observations map hosted at Nifty Gateway.

Sam Spratt was aware of this, and he wanted the audience to immerse themselves deeply into the painting. He offered the unique opportunity for 256 players to select a spot within the painting to add their observations to one of the many scenes and stories captured there. The result is available as an interactive image, allowing the viewer to zoom in and pan across the painting to discover the details and the observations the players left behind — many of these being short pieces of poetic art.

The reception of The Monument Game has been tremendous. Even before the game started, fans posted raving comments or even created their own fan work. As a great storyteller, Sam Spratt contributed a lot to the ongoing stream of activity. The timeline of X postings about The Monument Game almost feels like fan fiction but for fine arts. The community exposes an enormous creative energy, thus actively shaping the NFT’s story.

The original painting and the players interacted at the smart contract level, and their observations are safely stored on-chain. However, all the feedback, fan art, and mentions aren’t. Yet, all of these reactions belong to The Monument Game’s communal memory, adding to its value and legacy. They deserve to be preserved along with the original NFT. In fact, it’s imperative.

The Challenges of Preserving NFT Lore

One of the many observation points in The Monument Game.
One of the many observation points in The Monument Game.

All the feedback, comments, thoughts, and fan work become part of The Monument Game’s lore and deserve to be conserved along with the NFT itself. As things currently stand, they won’t be.

Unlike the player’s observations, this fan work lives on the edge of getting lost forever. Imagine an account being hacked or banned, data being lost due to suboptimal planning at the social media provider’s end, or other incidents outside the control of artists, collectors, and their audience.

In fact, NFT art is breaking at an alarming rate. Up to 40 percent of all NFTs use off-chain storage for all or part of the artistic piece. Classic storage services, however, are known to break. Even the simple relocation of off-chain data can render an NFT worthless, as the location-based link to the data becomes invalid.

And that’s just the NFT data itself! Imagine how much harder it is to capture, preserve, and serve the off-chain history (which was never connected to the onchain data in the first place).

The lore of an NFT mainly accumulates off the chain. Whether the NFT is exhibited in galleries or talked about at conferences, or whether collectors and art audiences discuss an NFT in forums, chat apps, or on social media, as we’ve seen above, these artifacts become part of the artwork. They should get the same level of preservation as on-chain data gets.

Capturing all these artifacts is difficult. In the current NFT art world, everything that happens to an NFT or is said about it is little more than an echo that quickly fades. In oral traditions, information is changed and diluted while being passed along. If you weren’t there, you can’t experience what it was like.

Our modern, digital world has the tools to stop the decay and preserve an NFT’s lore forever. We only have to make use of these tools.

Atomic Lore: The Ultimate Solution for NFT Art Preservation

One of the many observation points in The Monument Game.
One of the many observation points in The Monument Game.

Atomic Lore is a preservation tool that is perfectly tailored to NFT art: a comprehensive, multi-chain service to capture and preserve the provenance of NFT artworks.

Preserving NFT art requires four key ingredients: curation, storage, connection, and access and display.

  • Curation is the important process of identifying and selecting off-chain artifacts related to the NFT art. Artifacts must be collected and carefully reviewed for preservation, to neither lose valuable artifacts nor add irrelevant ones (and decrease the signal-noise ratio).

  • Storage is the cornerstone of any artwork’s longevity. Storage made for eternity must be robust against failure and data reorganization. Atomic Form combines Arweave (a blockchain-based storage) with IPFS (a content-addressed storage) for maximum reliability.

  • Connection is about linking and storing social interactions around the NFT in a meaningful way, to make the data easily discoverable for humans, apps, and dApps.

  • Access and Display ensures the availability of NFT art to everyone. What’s the use of an oil painting masterpiece if it is tucked away in the attic of some museum? Likewise, digital art exists to be exposed and viewed.

These four ingredients are Atomic Lore’s pillars for creating a time capsule of communal memory and experiences around NFT artworks.

The Monument Game and Atomic Lore: A Perfect Match

Many of the activities around The Monument Game became highly valuable assets on their own, worth preserving along with the NFT. Atomic Lore collects and preserves these assets for current and future generations. For The Monument Game, Atomic Form curated, signed, and stored more than 150 tweets as of this writing, along with metadata and provenance information. Every tweet is captured, signed, and stored in Arweave and served through IPFS under a permanent content ID.

Every off-chain artifact that is added can enrich the lore, allowing The Monument Game to remain a living and evolving *Gesamtkunstwerk, *a total art work that withstands the test of time. Atomic Lore is your digital catalogue raisonné for your NFT art and every background information that belongs to it.

The Future of NFT Art Preservation

Atomic Lore combining an NFT's metadata with offchain history and context.
Atomic Lore combining an NFT's metadata with offchain history and context.

The NFT art world is in urgent need of solid and long-lasting strategies for preserving an NFT’s lore for generations to come. In the case of The Monument Game, Atomic Lore consolidates all of its off-chain artifacts into a consistent viewing experience, securely stored on Arweave and IPFS. Without a preservation strategy like this, NFTs and their provenance, history, and contextual information are prone to get dismembered by a forgetful Web2 and undermined by waves of AI-generated noise.

We believe serious creators, collectors, and curators will require this level of preservation as a standard going forward.

Like the masterpieces of ancient artists, NFT art is worth being preserved for future generations.

Learn how Atomic Form can help you preserve your NFTs and all their offchain history. Contact us today.

Article cover image courtesy of Sam Spratt’s Tweet (found by perusing The Monument Game’s Atomic Lore page.

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