Cover photo

Tending a Forest

On protocols as an artistic medium, terra0 and Once Upon a Time in Shaolin

terra0 Morphology Panel 01 (2020) - image courtesy of Paul Kolling/terra0

Another week onchain has passed, and it’s time for a recap. Before that, I wanted to focus this newsletter installment on a topic I am preparing for a keynote I am giving tomorrow in Basel, Switzerland, at The Art of Protocols by Outland conference: protocols as an artistic medium.

The talk will cover various examples of protocols as a medium, but for the sake of brevity (this is a newsletter and not an encyclopedia, after all), I’ll just share my favorite example: terra0. 

I picked terra0 because their artwork Morphology Panel 02 (2020) currently hangs in the Avara London HQ. We received it some weeks ago, and I don’t know what it is with it, but one can’t stop looking at it. At first glance, it’s a photograph of a verdant forest, but when you look closer you notice the frame of the photo depicts a flow chart of a smart contract. What is this smart contract? It is what would be required for the smart contract to tend to the forest. , It is an invitation in our office to imagine how we could live harmoniously between nature and technology.

Terra0 published their whitepaper when they were still students at the University of the Arts in Berlin in 2016. Since then, they’ve done many different projects related to the concept of a self-sovereign forest. One of my favorite ones is Premna Daemon (2018), a bonsai tree which according to them, in an ECO/ACC way (lol) requested and paid for its own care. Of course, when talking about terra0 one cannot miss their iconic FlowerTokens (2018) that, during the NFT hype of 2021, became one of the most coveted projects by collectors everywhere, even prompting people to create a DAO to buy one of them (DahliaDAO).

Premna Daemon (2018) - terra0 (image courtesy of terra0)

What’s cool about using protocols like Ethereum, in the case of terra0, as an artistic medium, is that the programmability of such protocol, through the Solidity language, takes a completely different dimension of what an “expressive programming language” entails. For context, an expressive programming language should allow programmers to write code that is easy to read and understand, and make it easier to write code that accomplishes the intended task with fewer lines of code. Solidity, the language underpinning Ethereum, is almost completely human readable and allows for limitless expressive possibilities. When terra0, or any project using Ethereum as a medium – for instance, Terraforms by Mathcastles – they also take into consideration the constraints of the protocol, the language and the chain and fold them into the artwork. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s the coolest thing to ever happen. BTW, terra0 is, naturally, on Lens, documenting their progress onchain :) 

Furthering the importance of on-chainness, this past weekend PleasrDAO presented their iconic Wu-Tang Clan Album, “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” since it’s going to MOMA in Tasmania, Australia. They also did something awesome: the Shaolin album is the most expensive one in the world, and they created an NFT that’s selling for $1 (with the aid of ConnectKit by Family, which is part of Avara!). They designed the most innovative mechanism, of course, whereby minting, we can all help unlock the album sooner than 2103. To be honest with you, I love it. Conceptually, it’s really great to add a way to prove whether people are still willing to pay legendary cash for legendary music. I bought 11 because I think it’s a brilliant initiative and a great gift. I am happy to announce that at least 9 of my friends will be getting the album as a gift in the coming years. 

Anyways, before I leave you, here’s the onchain digest for this week (make sure you read it all, as you may find a way to unlock a very coveted thing coming soon to the Avaraverse).

65779898976 - Kikillo (2024) - image courtesy of the artist


Read/ View: 

Icons of the Week:

Kay’s Corner:

  • Tanuki launched a spa and sauna club, the dream is for everyone to share their favourite spas and saunas so when we travel there is an unlimited resource for a spa day, please join and share you favourite spot!

  • Mooncath’s take on @jesseyjeanne’s fries before guys is a perfect example of how to navigate collaboration in the web3 social scene imo!


Read until here? Good. Here’s the rAAVE orb club. Trust me and follow early!

And of course, about afk Brussels… happening on July 8th - link to join here.

See you next week!

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