The brilliant Danil Krivoruchko spoke to us about the difficulties, triumphs and joys of working on the Heterosis collection.
A multidisciplinary digital artist and art director whose clients include names like Apple, Nike, Intel, and Boeing, Krivoruchko’s work has also won a variety of festival awards. Of course, (and most importantly for us) he is a key co-creator of several Snark.art and OG.Art NFT collections, including Life in Our Minds and OG:Crystal projects.
Real life as a reference
The Heterosis project was 100 times more complicated than my previous collections, OG:Crystals and Life In Our Minds.
Mat [Collishaw] wanted Heterosis NFTs to be based on real flower species. There are so many flower-ish collections that are stylized or that depict nonexistent species - which simplifies the life of the creators so much because they can say: "I am the creator. This is how I see it." But when you have a real life as a reference, which is super complex on the one hand and so familiar to everyone on the other - you can't cheat! I mean, everyone has seen a tulip!
So just achieving a photorealistic visual was technologically very complex. And then it has to be animated! Think about how the opening of a flower bud works - with every petal opening one after another, so we had to find a physically accurate simulation of the process and pack that into a very tight space.
After we had done this, we then had to make thousands of them! We also couldn't control how each flower would look because they are generative, but we needed to ensure that all the materials and traits looked more or less believable, and that we balanced these visuals in a way so that they don't need to render for days but still look magnificent.
Making an artwork generative
On top of the complexity of the visuals, there is also a huge generative element aspect to the project, where each flower can be combined with any other and can then inherit new DNA.
What does a high amount of petals mean for tulips compared to a high amount for water lilies? Well one has six, and the other has 50 because they’re entirely different species, but we still need to keep the trait of "high petal amount" if one flower mutates to another.
This inheritance rule goes for every one of about 25 DNA genes, so you can transfer any of them, and it should still work and give you a beautiful, exciting, and of course, reasonable, result.
That's why I'm personally very proud of this visual technology - even though there are probably only a few people who can truly understand how much effort I put into this magical moment when a collector presses the mutate button and gets a new flower in just several hours.
CryptoKitties mechanics: From hate to love
When CryptoKitties started in 2017, I was trading cryptocurrencies and wasn't too familiar with NFTs. So for me, CryptoKitties was this annoying thing that clogged the Ether network and made all transaction costs skyrocket. So, to be honest, I didn't like the collection at all!
It's interesting how things changed five years later when I started working on the Heterosis collection, because it is actually about creating hybrids between species. I started with research, as I usually do, and I dug into articles about how genes, crossbreeding, and all of these kinds of mechanics work. I thought that I probably wasn’t the first person on the planet to try and turn biological processes into digital code, so I looked up some other implementations. Only then did I find out that CryptoKitties had already done it five years ago, and they’d done it brilliantly!
Realising these guys are geniuses, I then took what they had created and moved it forwards five years - there was no need to reinvent the wheel! But having an infinite supply of NFTs in a collection nowadays is not good, so I removed this mechanic, and the Heterosis collector now has to decide whether to keep the new generation of their flower (received post-breeding) and replace his old one or keep the original.
To monopolise or collaborate?
I'm particularly interested in how people will interact with setting their own prices for flower hybridization. This new layer of market activity is gamified and forces people to decide: "Do I want to keep this rare species to myself by giving it a grossly overpriced breeding fee so no one else can have the same genes? Or should I lower the price so someone can actually pay me to have the same traits? …. But then I won't be the monopolist on golden orchids on the market anymore!" What do you do?!
Tulip mania and self-irony
The NFT market (and its turbulence) is often compared to tulip mania - a famous market phenomena that took place in 17th century Holland when people invested millions in rare tulips. Many sceptics compare the NFT boom to the tulip bubble, but I like people that are not too serious about themselves. We in the crypto community understand how the outside world perceives us, and instead of fighting back or being defensive, we play with it.
I consider the OG.Art platform to be the ideological child of the OG:CR collection, and I'm very invested in its future, so I’ve tried my best to make sure that at least the first two collections on the platform would be of the highest possible quality. I believe the Life in Our Minds and Heterosis collections will define how the platform proceeds and set the bar at the highest possible level in terms of the visuals quality. I wanted to ensure they won't disappoint the OG:CR community.
For me, the ideology of the OG.Art platform is based on three components. It's a place for projects that combine conceptually driven fine art with the highest-quality digital art, and they could not be possible without blockchain. This approach is what attracted people to OG:CR, and I would love to think we kept this promise in LIOM and Heterosis.