Kazuhiro Tanimoto  

2022/On-Chain Generative Art NFT

Release in July 8, 2022
12:00 ET(GMT-4)

Questions by Art Blocks and Answers by Kazuhiro Tanimoto

- Tell us about your background

I have a Doctor of Engineering and I work in Japan in materials research and development. In this work, I am not strongly linked to art or programming. However, I have been fascinated with computers since I was shown a Macintosh LC 520 that my uncle was using for work over 30 years ago when I was 7 years old. Later, my parents bought me a Macintosh Performa 575, and my uncle bought me THINK C and INSIDE MAC, which I used to make little games and useless software like worm crawling around on the desktop and uploading them on the early Internet.

On the other hand, I also loved chemistry and experimentation. Eventually, I entered the chemistry department of a university. Then, I was able to become a researcher, which had been my dream since childhood.

For 10 years I was immersed in chemistry research, but gradually I became more and more motivated to create other things besides molecules, just like in the old days. Hence, I develop smart phone apps, do electronics with Arduino, and create generative art with Processing and p5js.

As an art project, I developed a solid material that changes light in curved lines using my chemical knowledge, and combined it with laser beams to create an installation. This was selected as a jury recommended work at the Japan Media Arts Festival.

- How did you learn about Art Blocks and/or this space?

It was in the first half of 2021 that I learned of the existence of NFT. I found out about Art Blocks when I was researching various platforms. It was a very slow start.

- Tell us about your project

It is a living portrait, blinking, angry, laughing, surprised, and continuously changing into even more complex expressions. In this work, personality is output on the net by minting. This is a fragment of minter's soul, forever adrift in the vast net.

- What was your approach for creating this project? Do you have a good idea of what it will look like at first or do you tinker around with some small ideas and let it evolve over time?

When I realized what Art Blocks were doing, I was extremely excited. Then I thought about the significance of storing the code on the blockchain, and the idea of encapsulating the soul expressed by the code on the blockchain immediately came to mind.

I work in science and engineering and believe that humans are wonderful creatures, however the soul is not supernatural, but a function described in DNA, the human program code. In other words, I believe the soul is in the code.

Moreover, to store code containing fragments of souls on the blockchain, and for that code to be executed by minting, was felt to be to set adrift an undeletable ghost on the vast net. If we can put this idea on the emerging technologies of blockchain and NFT, this act would be significant.

I chose a human face and expression as the output of the soul. This is because I think that the diversity of the human face and the complexity of its expressions represent a part of the soul.

That is, the concept was completely solidified at the beginning.

Nevertheless, it took seven months to create because I wanted to study how human personality and expression manifests itself and how to implement it, as well as to make it look like a painting as opposed to the image of output obtained from the code.

- Did you always have the idea that your project would be animated/interactive or was there a time when you thought that this was piece was best left as a static image?

During the middle of the project, I wanted to do the work, which was initially a still image, into a living portrait whose facial expressions kept changing in real time. We believed that in order to maximize the advantages of on-chain generative art, the work should respond to user manipulation and continue to change endlessly into a countless number of expressions. This is an experience that is not possible with the conventional NFT, which is a dozen-second looping video data that is limited in terms of data capacity and plays a completed video.

I struggled to get a satisfactory execution speed. I needed to increase the processing speed by a factor of 180 over the first!

Particularly heavy was the process for converting to painting style. I have changed this process to be done in the shader instead of within p5.js. It was also necessary to calculate transitions between facial expressions.
However, this implementation allows for real-time processing, blinking when clicking near the eyes and changing the orientation of the face depending on the pointer position. Also, if you look at it on a slightly larger screen, you can see they are breathing!

- Are there any mints that have surprised you so far? Which ones and why?

Sometimes I am surprised to get a mint that resembles someone I know or someone famous. The most surprising mint was a Keanu Reeves look-alike!

- A portion of sales are going to charity, can you tell us about the charity and why its important to you?

I intend to make several donations, one of which is related to Parkinson's disease. My uncle currently has Parkinson's. He has taught me so much about computers and so much more. I always looked forward to seeing him during summer vacation. My uncle continues his treatment with hope. I hope that one day the world will no longer suffer from Parkinson's disease.

    Ideological Background & Backstory of GHOST IN THE CODE

    GHOST IN THE CODE on Art Blocks  Release in July 8, 2022 12:00 ET(GMT-4)

    Sample Outputs on Art Blocks  
      Scroll down to see 696 samples. Click on each of the details to move them.

    GHOST IN THE CODE on Art Blocks

(c) Kazuhiro Tanimoto