Random International, in collaboration with Danil Krivoruchko, produced by Snark.art and Pace Verso on OG.Art platform.
Titled Life in Our Minds, the project was released on Snark.art’s dynamic NFT platform OG.Art on October 25.
Life in our Minds (LIOM) is a multi-dimensional artwork consisting of two major parts: an NFT collection to be launched in October and an interactive generative video sculpture entitled The Mother Flock.
The Mother Flock and NFT collection are interrelated, as they are made from the same basic matter — 3D origami objects called Boids.
Following the launch of the project, all the elements — Boids, NFTs, and The Mother Flock — will go through a complex evolutionary process that depends on the NFT collectors’ behaviors.
Life in Our Minds opens up the interplay between collective ownership and individual mark-making, re-staging art within a new (meta)-universe that has its own rules and, in so doing, creates a new form of public sculpture.
Evolution of LIOM
To understand the logic behind the LIOM project’s evolution, it is necessary to imagine the changes that each component undergoes.
The starting point for the project's life was the minting of LIOM NFTs. Upon minting, each collector received a LIOM NFT that contained a small number of Boids (around 7-15). The NFT’s primary look was generated according to the content of the owner's wallet. Each NFT had a predefined shape, evolution speed, and the maximum of Boids it could finally include in it.
LIOM NFTs gradually evolved as long as they stayed in the collectors' wallets and were not put up for sale — they added new Boids to the formation, while the old Boids of the NFT gradually changed their looks, sometimes adding special rare materials and decorative patterns, that represented other NFT collections in the owner’s wallet. The Evolution Mechanics here rewarded the holding of LIOM NFTs, rather than the typical trend common in the NFT space of simply flipping the items. So, the longer you held onto a LIOM NFT, the more complex, beautiful, rare, and precious it became.
The number of NFTs remained constant during the life of the project, despite the general number of Boids and their looks changing. Each Boid simultaneously exists as a part of its NFT and as a part of the Mother Flock virtual sculpture.
The Mother Flock consists of a myriad of Boids, which form the sculpture’s individually owned NFTs.
The Flock is influenced by its constituent Boids, while also behaving independently as its own entity. As more Boids appear and change their visual traits, the sculpture constantly evolves. When the whole NFT Collection evolution process is finished, the Mother Flock will obtain the final amount and appearance of its elements but will continue to move and change its shape indefinitely.
There are two editions of The Mother Flock. The first one was revealed and sold at Christie's 3.0 auction for 50 ETH. The second edition went to the LIOM DAO to reward the community of collectors for their active participation in creating The Mother Flock.
The special web version of the sculpture permanently lives on OG.Art platform, where it can be viewed free of charge at any time.
Moving object perception
In the 1940s, two psychologists, Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel, held a set of experiments that investigated attributional processes in perception. Participants were shown a short animation in which three geometrical figures (large and small triangles and a disc) were shown moving in various directions at various speeds. When asked to interpret the moving objects, subjects were found to interpret the animation in terms of animated beings, attributing motives and personality to the shapes.
Life in our Minds continues this exploration of the human tendency to ascribe character, intent, and narrative to the complex behaviours of simple moving forms, as well as the subconscious instincts that cause us, as humans, to do so. For Random International, this capacity underscores what it is to be human; the automatic instincts and emotional reactions that cause us to feel a sense of connection to something, regardless of its sentience.
Boid and flocking behavior
There is another study at the heart of Life in our Minds that allows us to better understand its essence: Craig Reynolds’s 1986 artificial life program “Boids”, which simulated the flocking behaviour of birds. The orignal term "Boid" derives from a shortened version of "bird-oid object", or a ‘bird-like’ object. Incidentally, "Boid" is also the colloquial metropolitan New York pronunciation for "bird". The Boid framework is often also used in computer graphics to provide realistic representations of flocks of birds and other creatures such as schools of fish or herds of animals.
Random International and Danil Krivoruchko’s practices are fueled by research and scientific discovery. Expanding from these referenes and points of inspirtation, the artwork aims to broach the question of what it is to be alive today and experiment with how we connect to different kinds of life, to different views of the world, and ultimately, to one another.
Market live representation
Another layer to this project is that it can be seen as live evidence of market interactions. Each LIOM NFT represents the wallet of its current owner and said owner’s activity. Consequently, the whole collection presented in The Mother Flock is a manifestation of the global LIOM NFT market and its activity metrics. And furthermore, as LIOM NFTs bear traits from more than 50 major NFT collections and partner organizations, the Mother Flock represents the whole NFT market dynamics.
We have also created this in-depth LIOM Growth Guide to the collection’s mechanics.
The project mechanics
The evolution of LIOM NFTs begins by default when bought by a new wallet. If a LIOM NFT stays in the wallet and is not put up for sale, it gradually evolves by adding new Boids to its formation and gradually revealing the traits of its pre-existing ones.
✦ The process continues until one of these three conditions is met:
— the NFT is put on sale in the secondary market. It continues to evolve as soon as it is bought by other collectors, and their wallet data now influences the evolutionary process;
— the number of Boids reaches the NFT’s "Boids limit" trait (the higher this number, the rarer this NFT);
— the NFT’s evolution is locked by the on-demand option at OG.Art platform.
✦ During their evolution process, all Boids may go through the same stages but at different, individual times:
- First, a Boid is added to the NFT.
- Its decorative pattern is revealed.
- The pattern may reveal special material (silver, golden, pearl etc).
- The whole Boid could change its color to special material.
✦ Some NFT properties are predefined, such as:
— The Boids shape
— The Maximum Boids number
— The Boids' Formation shape (e.g a circle, triangle, square, infinity, etc)
— Their Initial evolution progress (for example, some NFTs could be born with 5%, some with 30% progress)
— The NFT color scheme (flat, rainbow, gradient, etc)
✦ Other LIOM NFT properties are affected by the buyer's wallet — including both the NFTs that they own and past transactional activity:
— Evolution speed
— Collaboration Patterns on the Boids from other NFTs in the owner's wallet
— Special pattern materials distribution (% of regular/silver/gold/pearl)
— Special Boid materials % (for example, completely gold NFT)
✦ There are 60 major NFT collections and partner organizations that give unique patterns to the Boids:
Art Blocks Curated Collection, Autoglyphs, Azuki, BAKC, BAYC, Chimpers, CloneX, Cool Cats, Creature World, CrypToadz, Cryptopunks, CyberBrokers, CyberKongz, Doodles, Fingerprints DAO (members wallets), Flamingo DAO (members wallets), ForeverBots, Friends with Benefits (members wallets), goblintown.wtf, Gutter Cats, Invisible Friends, Ksoids by Danil Krivoruchko, MAYC, Meebits, MFers, MOAR by Joan Cornella, Moon Phases by Jeff Koons, Moonbirds, Murakami Flowers, nouns.wtf, OG:Crystals by Michael Joo and Danil Krivoruchko, OnChainMonkey, Otherdeed, Outland (Elemental by Fang Lijun and Fragments by James Jean), Pace Verso (teamLab Matter is Void, Glenn Kaino Pass the Baton, and Verso VIP), Pace x Art Blocks, Pleasr DAO (members wallets), Proof Collective, Psychedelics Anonymous, Regulars, rektguy, The Currency Damien Hirst, Tom Sachs Rocket Factory (Tom Sachs Rockets, Tom Sachs Components, Tom Sachs Mars Rocks), TRLab (David Ariew x Tatler China, AI 2041, Exploding the Self, YDF Packets, YDF Fireworks, Imagine This, Vogue Meta Ocean), VeeFriends, World of Women, XCopy, [ mxtter ] (members wallets), 89 seconds Atomized by Eve Sussman.
The list of contracts that give collab patterns to your LIOM NFTs.
✦ LIOM NFTs can also contain randomly distributed qualities such as high evolution speed, higher Boids limits or unique visual qualities (all-black Boids, etc.), which can help boost rarity.
✦ Some features can also be received on-demand:
— Evolution can be locked/unlocked at any moment at OG.Art platform
— Evolution speed may be boosted. All the NFTs will eventually reach their complete and final form, but those who gain completely evolved NFTs earliest will presumably be able to sell them for more.
✦ Strategies to gain a rare LIOM NFT
— A Long hold (even with relatively common wallet contents) permits Boids to reveal their rarer traits.
— Having more than one LIOM NFT in the wallet boosts evolution speed for all of them — so there is a reason to hold onto more than one.
— Rare NFTs from other collections in the wallet unlock rare patterns to LIOM NFTs.
— Having OG:Crystals with collab traits (Apes, Cryptopunks, Meebits, etc) works as a substitute for actual NFTs from these collections, giving the LIOM NFTS the same Boid types. So you may get rare traits by purchasing OG:Crystals with collab features.
— Owning OG:Crystals gives a small boost to Boid’s evolution speed.
— Since some NFT features are predefined by the characteristics of the owner’s wallet, it may make sense to transfer the NFT to your other wallet if you have more than one.
Random International. Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass
Random International is a postdigital art group exploring the impact of technological development on the human condition. Experimental by nature, Random International’s practice is fuelled by research and scientific discovery. The group aims to broaden the question of what it is to be alive today by experimenting with how we connect — to different kinds of life, to different views of the world, and to one another. Artists Florian Ortkrass and Hannes Koch were both born in 1975 in Germany and met at Brunel University before going on to complete their Masters at the Royal College of Art. They founded Random International following their graduation from the RCA in 2005.
During the two decades since the studio’s inception the focus of Random International’s artistic practice has continuously evolved and today embraces sculpture, performance, and installation, often on an architectural scale. Their highly collectable work creates a bridge between the human, the digital and the spatial in offering audiences distinctly personal and instinctive experiences.
Their critically acclaimed installation Rain Room is in the collections of Los Angeles County Museum of Art as well as the Sharjah Art Foundation and has also been exhibited at London’s Barbican (2012); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013); Yuz Museum, Shanghai (2015/2018); and MoCA Busan (2019). Editions of Rain Room have been permanently installed at the Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE in 2018 and the Jackalope Collection in Melbourne, respectively (2019).
Their work is also found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum London, the Maxine & Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art Detroit, the YUZ Foundation Shanghai, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art LA.
Random Internation’s LIOM project artistic statement
Life in our Minds continues Random International’s exploration of the human tendency to ascribe character, intent and narrative to the complex behaviors of simple moving forms, as well as the subconscious instincts and emotional triggers that cause us to do so.
At the core of the work is The Mother Flock — a virtual, generative, and interactive sculpture that lives on OG.Art platform permanently, visible to anyone, and viewable at any time, free of charge. The sculpture encompasses a myriad of individual swarming shapes, which, in clusters of varying formation and size, are made up of thousands of individually owned constituent NFTs.
Earlier works from this series have recently been shown at The Store, 180 The Strand in London, and The ZKM in Karlsruhe, with a forthcoming exhibition at the MIT Museum opening in October 2022.
The studio is proud to join forces with OG.Art, Danil Krivoruchko and Pace Verso in bringing this family of work to broader audiences and transcending the borders between on and offline.
The flocking shapes that embody the work reference Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel’s ‘Experimental Study of Apparent Behaviour’ of 1944, which reveals both the extent and the commonality of our human propensity for anthropomorphic projection. For Random International, our capacity to do this underscores what it is to be human; the automatic instincts and emotional reactions that cause us to feel a sense of connection, regardless of its veracity.
Life in our Minds is Random International's first experiment into using blockchain's much lauded de-centralized qualities to realize a new form of public art that is concrete, communally owned, and widely accessible. The work's interplay between collective ownership, individual mark-making, and distributed spatial control is re-staged in a new (meta)-universe according to new rules.
The multitude of NFTs that come together to create The Mother Flock evolve along a trajectory that continually alters their aesthetic form and activity. From the moment the NFTs are minted, the swarming objects come to life, changing from grayscale to increasingly colorful vivacity, depending on variables of the collectors' behavior. The different collections live alongside one another digitally within The Mother Flock, which also acts as their home within the material world through the interface of video sculpture. As such, the individually owned NFTs make up the very fabric of the physical work so that Life in our Minds can be firmly rooted as public sculpture whilst being privately owned on a collective scale. This invites a reconsideration of what it means to create and collect when these actions and concepts are inherently connected. In so doing, Random International surrenders control of the development of the work, making collector behavior a co-author, and posing the question of just how much perceived control is, in fact, illusory. Life of the Mind can be seen as a leap past the death of the author and into a digital afterlife.
Through the dynamic interrelation between the NFT collection and The Mother Flock, Random International delves into the possibilities for decentralization — of artistic ownership and authorship, of collection, consumption, and currency, as well as for intelligence itself.
Interview with Hannes Koch
Flocking that fascinates us
"Flocking or swarming behaviour is an amazing form of sentient collective intelligence and a rich field in which to play. Whilst each individual follows some really simple rules, together, they create an incredibly complex feat where half a million birds can fly together without a single crash.
In one way or another, for over 15 years, we have been building sculptures that simulate this collective intelligence in an attempt to capture and translate our longstanding fascination with flocking behaviour. But what started out as a somewhat simple admiration of the swarms’ aesthetic qualities has led us to consider the question of just what exactly, for us, it means to be alive.
As human beings, we are predisposed to respond emotionally to motion that we perceive as organic or natural. So, if a robot moves in a human-like way, we're likely to engage with it instinctively. This response to movement is one of the oldest features of the brain. And it's not limited to humans; it takes 150 milliseconds to distinguish biological motion from non-biological, whether you're a chicken or a human being. Our brains have been trained for millions of years to respond in a certain manner so that, essentially, when we look at something, we can know within a split second whether or not that thing is alive.
But, these days, we can build machines that imitate biological movement really successfully, and that leaves us vulnerable to our own perceptive faculties and instincts. The simulations of flocking behaviour and biological motion in our work aims to study this all too human vulnerability because people cannot help but open up and relate instinctively to these movements.”
The algorithmic base
"Algorithmically, our works in this field have been based on the first basic experiments from Craig Reynolds — “Flocks, Herds, and Schools: A Distributed Behavioural Model”, a simple, animated form of research created in 1987 and later used by Pixar. It is a rule system that could be assigned to flock elements so that they didn't have to program every single character but so that, at the same time, all the characters would look like they were alive. We took this code as the point of entry to our sculptures and installations.
Earlier works from this series have recently been shown at The Store, 180 The Strand in London and The ZKM in Karlsruhe, with a forthcoming exhibition at the MIT Museum opening in October 2022."
"Life in our Minds is our first piece of crypto art, and we find working with Blockchain incredibly energising. Here the blockchain's much-lauded de-centralised qualities are realised as a new form of public art that is concrete, communally owned, and widely accessible. The work's interplay between collective ownership, individual mark-making and distributed spatial control is re-staged in a new (meta)-universe, according to new rules.
Thanks to the work that Danil has done, we now have a collectively owned public artwork where the individual constituent items are beautiful objects in their own right."
Origami and ancient tradition
"We didn't want the swarming objects to be any specific species found in nature. They had to be some minimalist simulation of behaviours that we find in nature — just enough to make you think that they’re alive. We chose this kind of aesthetic because origami has something really manual and analogue about it, and we felt it was important not to make these pieces as some kind of fantasy digital thing. These qualities are very dear to us because they’re something we can relate to as human beings, and they anchor the project in a tangible and highly specific tradition of craft."
Losing control - it’s not a bad thing.
"We love the fact that there is distributed control inherent to this body of work. Control, and the lack thereof, is a huge topic for the studio.
The realisation that we, as humans, are not in control most of the time relates to our subliminal or instinctive reaction to movement — and this element of co-creation with the NFT collectors is the same. Every NFT will be unique due to the actual identity of the owner being printed into the DNA of The Mother Flock.”
We, as artists, don't know what is happening in each collector's world, nor exactly how this will affect the eventual look and feel of The Mother Flock. We relinquish artistic control to the collective activity — I love that."
Ukrainian born New York based multidisciplinary digital artist and art director whose clients include names like Apple, Nike, Intel and Boeing. Krivoruchko’s work has won a variety of festival awards. He is currently nominated for a 2022 EMMY Award for Outstanding Main Title Design the series "Foundation", as part of their creative team. He is also the creator of the renowned " Danil is actively involved in the creation and production of the first several upcoming collections at OG.Art.
Interview with Danil Krivoruchko
One unique artwork vs thousands
“People tend to underappreciate generative art collections: “You push the button and get thousands of pictures, they can't be as valuable as one very elaborate artwork! And where is the artist in generative art?”
For me, it’s the contrary. It’s much easier to create one beautiful picture than to create a thousand of them. You can work for days on one picture, making it more and more refined, but it will always be just one image over which you have 100% control. Only the moment you decide it’s perfect does it become finished, fixed, and shown to the world.
On the other hand, generative art collections need you to create hundreds or thousands of pieces all of the same high-quality level. You need to make sure that the whole collection is diverse, with each piece being unique, while also ensuring one can tell that they belong to the same project. All of them should be equally visually interesting, and it’s so much harder as you don’t have control of the final view and final combination. When you do 1x1, you may render it and manually pick the best visual features. In collections, you have to mentally take into account all possible scenarios and make sure that every scenario actually works.
Turning a Flock into NFT collection
LIOM collection is the most complex project I have worked on so far.
Here, I was mostly responsible for the mechanics and visuals of the LIOM NFTs, while Random came up with the idea of the Flock. I tried to translate this idea into an NFT collection and connect all the parts together in a logical way.
A flock is a group of unique individual elements, so I tried to decompose it. The Flock only looks interesting if there are thousands of elements in it, so it gave me the idea that each NFT should comprise more than one Boid. I was looking for a beautiful way to organize these Boids and came up with the idea of animated mandalas with multiple Boids contained in the shape.
The Flock is always moving, so I decided to represent this dynamic in Boids and NFTs evolving with time. The NFTs are constantly updating dynamic 3D videos and we have to render each update. I had to make many optimizations to keep the NFTs looking sophisticated while still being able to render them fast enough and keep the cost of these updates reasonable. From a technological point of view, it was an exciting puzzle to solve.
Paper hands and the true NFT collectors reward
LIOM NFTs grow while you keep them, and in this way, I wanted to reward the true NFT collectors. There is this trend in the NFT space called “paper hands,” which is when people buy and immediately sell NFTs with the only aim being to make a fast profit. So instead of rewarding these traders, I decided to encourage “golden and diamond hands,” who are collectors that prefer to keep what they have.
Pace Gallery’s hub for web3 projects, launched in 2021 under the leadership of Pace President and CEO Marc Glimcher. Pace Verso works closely with artists within and beyond the gallery’s program to incubate, develop, and realize their web3 projects, operating an NFT platform on the Ethereum blockchain at www.pacegallery.com/pace-verso. In addition to releasing independent projects, Pace Verso frequently collaborates with leading web3 platforms to share artists’ work with wide audiences. In 2022, Pace Verso established a multifaceted partnership with Art Blocks, the leading generative art platform, encompassing boundary-pushing generative NFT releases by Pace’s artists as well as crypto-native artists, exhibitions, and community programming. In its first year, Pace Verso—which reflects the gallery’s longtime and ongoing support of innovative artists who have cultivated advanced studio practices engaged with boundary-pushing technologies—has presented NFT projects by Jeff Koons, Zhang Huan, Glenn Kaino, DRIFT, Lucas Samaras, and other artists. Pace Verso has also grown a robust following on its dedicated Discord server, directly engaging web3 communities through discussions with artists and leaders in the crypto space.
Snark.art has experimented with the blockchain as a revolutionary medium since 2018, producing various NFT projects and working with established artists from both the contemporary art and crypto worlds, including Mat Collishaw, Eve Sussman, Michael Joo, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Nancy Baker Cahill, Kendell Geers, Tommy Hartung, Duke Riley, Cassils, and many others. Snark.art’s OG.Art platform, launched in 2022, is a space not only for carefully curated collections of generative, dynamic NFT art, but for new approaches to creative collaboration. OG.Art invites groundbreaking artists to develop projects based on dynamic NFT technology and community interaction. This technology allows artworks to respond to online and in-person events, enabling collectors to interact with and develop NFT projects in new ways.
The LIOM NFT project represents a bridge between the digital and physical world in terms of its environmental and social impact. Importantly, we waited until Ethereum moved to POS, as a means of reducing the environmental consequences of the project IRL, and practically acknowledging how digital artwork has a reach far beyond just the digital world.
Furthermore, in terms of social and cultural impact, LIOM builds an ingenuitive bridge between the traditional, contemporary art world and the world of crypto-natives. We see the very real potential for dynamic NFTs to claim a stake in Art History as the next natural stage in the evolution of the digital artistic practice. Similarly, the link created between contemporary art and NFTs here allows for crypto-natives to gain insight into traditional art collection and history — all of which contextualizes Live in our Minds in the grander scheme of creative human history.