2 Psy Ops?
4 Community focused NFT project?
8 The first stage of !denzadol launched last week.
16 It’s a study in balancing the three circles of the NFT Venn - art, attention, and incentive.
32 Summary first: !denzadol is a multistage generative 3D series bringing together fine art and NFT utility. Designed to sustainably establish over time, the project intentionally experiments with incentives, utility, easter egg rarity.
64 It’s created by an established artist, going anon for this collection to grant the freedom to deliver an experimental project, and as a deliberate offshoot from their existing practice. From the discord: “I approach it the same way a music producer might do, where they may release a white label record remix and put it out as a limited release under a different alias.”
128 All rarity features are not immediately apparent. In the first stage of the project (1024 original artworks) 3D generative particle and flow techniques create rarity through different shape and intensity. Collectors accustomed to looking only at their piece’s standard rarity properties may have missed the additional ID; a number that links to the seminal Fidenza series from which the colours are inspired. 999 of the 1024 !denzadol works therefore have a direct 1:1 relationship to each Fidenza. A beautiful day in the discord as new owners searched for this link. Does the relationship mean anything? Does it grant utility (i.e. cold hard eth)? Maybe one day. For now, it adds another layer of depth and interest, an expansive rather than extractive state of being in the NFT milieu.
256 !denzadol intentionally experiments with incentives and utility. As a format, NFTs offer the ability to structure art collections to leverage culture and community (through a suddenly global online audience, a cracking pace of change, and a spotlight on digital art), and to transparently reveal rather than cynically veil the financial features that underpin them. NFTs are an opportunity to play with both wealth-building and community/culture-building.
The owners of four special (randomly minted) !denzadol pieces earn a place on the team in terms of receiving fortnightly splits of the secondary sales revenue. The aim is to test both the concept (how it delivers benefits, how the community responds) and the tools (in this case using 0xSplits). Experiments in Stage 1 can unfold further structures of utility in the subsequent stages, with confidence that they will work culturally and financially.
In a multi-stage project, there are clearly going to be other incentives for all owners beyond “the art”. The first drop (18 March) was still images. The second and third drops (planned for April and May) are animated pieces. As everyone here can’t bloody stop saying: a week is a year in NFTs, February 2022 was 3 years ago, web3 is 24/7. How do you make a creative project that sustains at this pace, over this 3-month timeframe and beyond? Beyond hitting a rare jackpot, how can a team shape the mechanics to support sustainable growth rather than purely profit for team and early minters? Luck, care, objectively interesting art, inclusive community building, and gentle, transparent game theoretics.
512 Roadmap roadmap roadmap! The project roadmap is a sideways triangle. The number of pieces released in each stage is half of the last. There were 1024 original works in stage 1, 512 in stage 2 and 256 in stage 3 are confirmed, and there are hints at 128, 64, (32? 16? 8?) in potential future unannounced stages. While the quantity of each release decreases, the complexity increases, both for the art (more intricate animation, environments, lighting, 3d generative simulations), and for the utility (future mechanics for splits and incentives are being discussed, an NFT that pays dividends dynamically, expanding the tools tested in Stage 1). So, quantity increases slowly, in a controlled and structured way, while creativity deepens. It’s a strategy to combat human fight-or-flight (copium-or-FUD) reflexes, to resist the crowd surge that can both pump and crash floors and leave unhappy bags for all but a few, and to allow the longer time-frames and increased effort required for more complex artwork. The sideways triangle is a focusing pathway to generating more complex and valuable creative outputs, that in turn will enrich the whole collection.
The disciplined project roadmap structure (3-stage release of diminishing numbers) and the published incentives (airdrops and chances to mint based on the special !denzadols) are fixed. Yet, from the beginning, the artist has reserved the right to experiment fluidly within this structure, to recalibrate and rebalance the vectors between attention, incentive and art as the project develops. Expect surprise, easter eggs, application of new technology (both for the art and the utility), experimentation, variation, diversion, iteration, conversation, consideration, augmentation, fortification…
The project roadmap is a sideways triangle with many potential tributary journeys.
Structure provides certainty for investors, fluidity adapts, and adds interest and surprise.
The whole project is a balance and tension between structure and fluidity:
Fluid: The art
Structure: Uniform box frames
Fluid: Swirling silky tufts, soft plasticine noodles
Fluid: The idea, the creative spark, genesis of the series
Structure: The maths and simulations of 3D generation and rendering
Structure: Data-mining colour-ways from Fidenza
Fluid: A joyful explosion of 3-dimensional colour surprise
Structure: The mint process (or is that also big fluid energy?)
Fluid: The future possible uses of each piece, granted by CC0 copyright
Structure: Categories and rarity features
Fluid: Subjective aesthetic pull of some over others, rarity aside
Fluid: Experimenting with and discussing owner and supporter incentives
Structure: Owner incentives written into the contract
Structure: The roadmap - halving supply over multiple parts
Fluid: The roadmap - increasing complexity over multiple parts
Structure: The Ethereum blockchain
Fluid: The general channel on the discord
Structure: The art
To be a genuinely interesting NFT project (rather than an art project sold as an NFT, or a token sold as art – both are also cool to do) there is an energising dynamic between the maths and art, between left and right brain creativity, between conviction of logic and conviction of change and experimentation, between the way people think they are (rational) and the way we are (emotional, scared, loving, fallible, connected, stubborn, fleeting).
1024 The way we are. Bundles of fear, attachment, and reflex. The edict underpinning the instructional success of any product is to know your audience and the problem you are solving for them. The problem of boring art, the problem of diminished wealth, the problem of not enough people to chat to. Those universal fears, attachments and reflexes of art, money, people and time. What more do you need to know about your audience? That they like moving colours, to be on mint-lists, rarity and clout? You’re not narrowing it down.
The groups in the NFT landscape are not homogenous. Because they come from many time-zones, countries, cultures, subcultures and Los Angeles, because everyone is an opt-out rather than opt-in anon, because we know each other through signals and symbols, or at most 40-character interactions and emotes, knowing your audience is a dizzy exercise in wild categorising or self-identifying. Those artists, those whales, my degens. Imagine three (more) circles which begin to overlap until it’s just one.
Groups have different energy. Maybe it really is all just vibes. In astrology practice there are three modalities or energies – mutable, fixed and cardinal. Cardinal modalities initiate action (with birth-dates at the beginning of seasons), fixed modalities are stable (the middle of the season), and those born under signs with mutable modalities move us to open and adapt to whatever ‘season’ comes next. I’m not scared to claim here that it’s often the artistic energy that is most fixed and the mutable degen energy that opens up to movements and change, not through any flaws or strengths of their own character, but because that is how crowds in volatility work.
It's a social tendency to separate, to tell stories about other groups to crystalise your own identities, strengthen our own communities. I’m a Capricorn because I’m not a Gemini, a boomer because I’m not a zoomer, a sceptic because I’m not pilled. But, for most larger-than-boutique art collections, separating and categorising the NFT space is useless - if you are creating and selling to yourself that’s a small and insular group, something not historically attempted by professional artists.
The transparency and clout that define NFT behaviours render the barriers between the different groups invisible, or at least ineffective. There are multi-layered overlaps between serious art appreciation, degen community foam, and investor money movement; artists suddenly make money, degens turn investors, and investors and degens collect serious art. Always has been. In astrology (sorry, again), despite the great sun-sign monopoly of the 20th century magazine horoscope, no one is ever just one type. As in astrology, in the creation, collection and selling of NFTs. The aim is to be aware of and balance positive and negative tendencies – nurture enthusiasm / temper exaggeration, be adaptive / resist unhinged vacillation, invest sustainably don’t dominate or manipulate, create more than criticise. We can try to categorise, but good luck with that keeping that spreadsheet tidy.
Groups have different energy, but groups also have the same energy. A somewhat shared language beneath the private jokes and signals, a funny or poignant or cryptic name on the same discord, and apart from the clippings at the top and bottom extremities of the graph, a more or less synchronised movement in the waves of asset exchange. There’s no separate market/s for art, something special, it’s all just different sized twigs in a big twig-current that we have somehow collectively made by valuing things and exchanging them for other things. Categories of NFT players (makers, collectors, flippers) can’t be split for long, and nor should they. Innovations, stories, tastes may start life in their distinct groups, but they will soon flow out or fold in. We (Vitalik?) made the structure and now we have the flow of code, of value, ideas, expanding rather than extracting (but also extracting). We have chains, plans, permissionless protocols, hyper-structures, immutable tokens, servers, lots of code.
Yet, it feels like there is no structure, in this frothy under-prepared world of unexpected cartoons, new-ness and nostalgia, hype, artists making it big, devs definitely doing something, clever roadmaps, articulate pitches, green pills, a $7m relief effort via NFT, supporting your friends, tumbling into rabbit hole parties, intriguing metadata, detective work on wallets, in twitter spaces watching it unfold, 4am wake-ups for… something, I mean, yesterday I minted an NFT of a colour because it was such a perfect subtle concept and I loved the peachy tone, sudden attachment to a piece of code, I mint eggs, coloured spheres, chains, clouds, new shoes and windows, and they are exciting and rare to me. Of course with this: the other side of the same energy. The scams and bots and larpers and drops, pump and dumps, podcast alpha, cash grabs that fall flat, mints below floor, mints above floor, paradigms, derivatives, too-big collections of art, colourful wrappers of nothing, digital micro-plastics, a sweaty dread that it’s just all shit and you’re in it somehow. There is a narrow needle-eye where it is possible to get a kind of balance of these divergent astrologies of optimism and churn, to maintain a mutually sustaining equilibrium of creation, value and community, with mechanics and rules, structures and micro incentives to keep us moving forward without falling in a stream that’s too fluid, too chaotic, too full, and also too thin, empty, fleeting. I could keep going. More liquid, unravelling, my covid-addled or just delusional brain trying to add words, make content, contribute to the floating bubbles and weighted blankets, a stream of consciousness, with hardly any structure stopping me beyond the seemingly shared rules of a common language, and even that is mutable and changeable, and if I strip that final structure away – nonsense, next to nothingness, empty runes and ineffective binary commands serving zero purpose 01100100 01100101 01101110 01111010 01100001 01100100 01101111 01101100. Which is why I’ve persisted with this unnecessary but ultimately satisfying essay word-count structure. 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024. A tribute to !denzadol and some numbers to give meaning. If you have read this far, post some abacus emoji reacts in the general channel and await more alpha.