Superficial Machines is a collective of artists, club organizers, and designers that are exploring how avatars, web3, and a metaverse layer to IRL music experiences can be used to improve the everyday conditions of club & festival organizers. In this essay, we outline our vision, motivation, and where we see Superficial Machines going in the near future.
Superficial Machines originated in Sweden and began as an organic network of friends, former coworkers, and party acquaintances. We are a creative collective determined to build a global grass-roots network that opens pathways for more shared music experiences that explore the aesthetics of being together, connected via digital media. The project results from conversations about improving the everyday conditions of those organizing the underground clubs we all enjoyed, our social fabric, and the desire to use these spaces for artistic expression.
We have begun our journey exploring how this could be done through alternative economics, immersive experiences, and connecting across multiple cities. It is this collective vision, the search for ways to sustain underground music experiences as a public good, that has also been a driving force in our exploration into DAO, tokenomics, and other coordination tools. Even as we explore new ways of coordinating, one element has remained consistent: we want to maintain our collective trust, and support systems that have made the underground club scene such a vibrant and creative environment for self-expression.
It is our dream to create tools and methods to scale events beyond the confines of physical venues, allowing anyone to join and interact regardless of location or device. We are leveraging Web3 coordination tools and immersive technology like VR/AR in order to achieve this.
In the end, all we want to do is dance, dance, dance.
We aim to lower the bar of entry for all who wish to explore and create within the metaverse. Our dream is to inhabit a network that supports artists and fashion designers to challenge the digital divide and translate their craft into a new medium. We aim for passion rather than polish. Experimentation and glorious failure are the name of the game. The collective aims to be there to support and catch those who take the leap of faith into the unknown. It is our dream that through trusting this process, an open and mixed metaverse ecosystem can manifest where everyone can join the dance floor.
Superficial Machines is a collective-owned network for designing art and running experimental music events. We’re not a tech platform but rather a network where new music communities and scenes are born and where they find nourishment to thrive. We’re an amplifier, transmitters, and receivers of music culture.
A healthy mycelial network is built on a complex and nutrient-rich substrate, and once thriving they enable the sharing of resources across a network of larger actors. We at Superficial Machines are incredibly inspired by how mycelial networks serve as a connector and vehicle for experimentation and collective intelligence. A branch of the network that solves for an external toxin shares this solution across the network thus increasing the resilience of the network. This solution was most likely the result of multiple branches experimenting and testing, and it is a similar mechanism of combining experimentation and sharing across the network that we hope our organization grows. We seek to strengthen the short and long connections that make such collective learning possible.
Our roots are in our local underground scene, which we have since expanded beyond, and what holds us together as a collective is a trust and mutual support we provide each other. While the place that we inhabit physically is in the Northern reaches of the globe, we hope to aid in the manifestation of a digital place where we can promote the ability for groups to collaborate and participate in the building of a network that supports those who are on the forefront of creating novel music experiences. It is our intention that Superficial Machines build on these roots, in the same way, nourish new connections with the same energy.
We hope that the Superficial Machines Collective serves as a connecting network that nurtures the sharing of experiences and explorations within organizing and inhabiting metaverse-infused music experiences. With each season, project, contribution, and exhibition we hope to learn and build on what it means to inhabit this space.
So where do we see this all leading to? How can we extend collective music experiences beyond the physical confines of a warehouse? What does it mean to inhabit a digital space, and how can we use this space to build on the environment that is created on a loving and safe dance floor? What novel experiences can we create together when we embrace the unknown and limitless potential afforded by immersive technology? What is our connection point to the other side?
We are driven by asking questions and discovering the answers along the way. Based on the experience we have currently in our collective, we have a proposal that we believe could be the start of an incredible journey.
We believe that the music experience world is currently in a moment of transition. Building on our knowledge within underground club organizing in order to collectively imagine what such a world could look like.
We believe that a central connecting point and possible vehicle for this transition takes the form of an avatar. These avatars are the primary digital manifestation of our vision and canvas for self-expression. These avatars are not bound to the constraints of our contemporary world. They shift function, take on new meaning, and grow with participants as we collectively experience what it means to embody a new form of media and music experience. We see them as a holder of digital artifacts that grow from an exchange of mutual support and cross-continental interaction. We believe that a pathway for creative expression can be opened by creating a canvas upon which participant-generated digital artifacts can be exchanged and displayed. Avatars serve as both a gallery for expression and exchange.
These avatars are fluid, experimental, and ever-evolving. They are practical and intentionally impractical. They are the collectors of memories and expressions of things to come. We are proposing a collective exploration of what these manifestations of creative self-expression can be in the metaverse and invite the Superficial Machines network to take the idea and dance.
Over the past few months, we have gone from casual conversations to organizing workshops, and working groups, and collaboratively organized our first experimental IRL experience. We view this as the period in which we began to lay our foundation and align our collective imagination.
The transition from club conversations and relationships built on past trust to an online community on Discord was one that we took incredibly seriously. We were inspired by others in the web3 community and explored how a praise system could be used to both capture the work/energy in the community as well as begin to identify how to distribute the value produced to Superficial Machine members.
Since the inception of Superficial Machines, we’ve wanted to develop our tools and methods through the process of creating music events to test out ideas and prototypes in the wild. And of course to just dance more together.
The birth ceremony took place in central Stockholm at the end of May for 150 people to celebrate the birth of our core community. In an audio-visual ritual performed by community member Daniel Araya, each member’s avatar was awakened, symbolizing the birth into our community.
Araya’s performance was in itself a prototype as he played a live set, but remotely from his home, creating presence through a projected digital avatar and his music.
Even though we managed to test out and “prove” the worth of several tools and methods at this event, the thing we were most proud of was the strong warm connection of the 150 guests. Sharing the birth experiences and intense performances created a shared connection and safety within the group.
Which in the end is what we’re all about. Strengthen communion through shared music experiences.
This is our first public season. It’s the season where we aim to transform this proto-DAO into an actual DAO with the foundation for a wider community to join us and build in a constructive way.
Avatars are central to our thesis and in this next iteration, we will develop full-body avatars with a clothing and accessory system that will form the basis for expression and the beginning of a marketplace. But it’s not just about visuals, we’re looking into a walkman system for the avatar with a virtual tape library to collect and listen to music NFTs.
Their use will not be limited to virtual events, the avatar will be the manifestation of the digital layer in IRL events as well. Accessories will be the ticket to events, digital memories, etc. AR face and body filters will be available to express your digital self in photos and videos and on-site interactive installations but also serve as a visual way to connect multiple IRL locations together virtually.
Soon we will launch home spaces for each member. This is a virtual, customizable space that holds the digital artifacts connected to events and your avatar. Clothing, accessories, tickets to events (IRL & URL), etc.
But these spaces are not just about this personal bubble to express yourself, not just a single-player experience but the start of a social, collaborative space where the community will be able to gather and create together. To borrow a term from our friends over at Metalabel, this is all about creating in multiplayer mode.
For season 1 we have decided to build our virtual presence using Mozilla Hubs for several reasons. It’s open source, runs in most browsers and devices, has a very low barrier of entry to start creating spaces, and it’s easy to extend and link spaces together.
This doesn’t mean that this is a platform we’re exclusive to in any way. We will explore how to dance and organize in any venue, real or virtual, that suit the needs of the community. Our vision is to build ways for events to be fully mixed between both real and virtual locations. Allowing the same party to span several IRL venues and virtual at once.
We are also committed to making our avatar system as interoperable between worlds and platforms as possible (although this will probably not be the case at the start due to limited time and resources).
The Nyegeverse is the first big virtual destination in the Superficial ecosystem.
The Nyege Nyege Collective, originators of one of the most vibrant cutting-edge electronic music scenes and festivals in the world have decided to join the Superficial Machines Collective to build out the Nyegeverse a permanent metaverse branch of their seminal IRL festival in September. We aim to translate the non-stop, bustling energy of the Nyege Nyege collective and festival into a metaverse experience focused on passion, creativity, and a by-whatever-means-at-hand attitude. Passion, not polish! Enabling participants, artists, and creators everywhere to join in and build community despite a growing digital divide. Nyegeverse is launching side by side with the IRL festival on the 15th of September.
Soon you will be able to read more about the Nyegeverse in a separate post.
Great, we love for you to join our adventure, please use this link to apply!