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Notes on "Meridian"
An On-Chain Generative Art Project
On Tuesday September 28, 2021, I’ll be be releasing a new generative art project, Meridian, distributed on the Ethereum blockchain as a limited set of 1,000 unique tokens through the ArtBlocks Playground platform.
The output images are best appreciated in larger formats, such as a 100cm tall print, or on a high density display. I’ve been iterating on this project daily over the last two months, but it builds upon ideas and techniques I’ve been developing for some years now, and carries some of the same threads of code as my previous ArtBlocks project, Subscapes (2021).
Unlike Subscapes, I’ve decided to take a slightly different approach to printing. With Meridian, there will be three planned print executions: Token-Limited Prints, Open Edition Prints, and a Community-Curated Art Book.
Token-Limited Prints (Signed)
Just as with Subscapes, if you can prove wallet ownership of a Meridian token, you will be eligible to purchase a large-format archival print, signed by the artist.
These are not unique 1/1 prints—if you sell or give away your token, the new owner of that token will also be eligible to order a signed print of it.
This process will begin some time in late October or early November.
Open Edition Prints (Unsigned)
One drawback with the 'long-form' generative art approach (as seen across ArtBlocks projects) is that, if the algorithm has enough variety, some exceptional outputs may be lost in the process of a limited edition and randomized mint run. This is in contrast to cherry-picking workflows, where a generative artist may explore many thousands of iterations and curate only a small handful of their favourites (often below 10) to be considered as the final artistic outputs.
As a compromise, I will be cherry-picking a small set of Meridian outputs that lie "out-of-band"—i.e. not part of the 1,000 minted editions. This small set will be representative of the project as a whole, as chosen by the artist over the course of the project’s development (somewhat like a "Director's Cut" of a film). These will be distributed as open-edition prints in variable sizes, unsigned, and at a lower price point.
I also hope these open-edition prints will make Meridian more accessible to a wider range of people outside the scope of crypto art, allowing them to own and enjoy one facet of the artwork even if they are not able or interested in acquiring a token.
Like the signed prints, this will begin some time in late October or early November.
Community-Curated Art Book (~2022)
I’m also exploring the possibility of developing an art book for Meridian, which would:
Include essays from the artist about its concept and development, including a technical breakdown
Include process images showing the earlier iterations and progression during development
Include some artist-curated out-of-band editions (e.g. from Open Editions selection)
Include several pages showing thumbnails of all 1,000 minted editions
Include some limited selection of community-curated editions from the 1,000 minted tokens. These would be shown large and in high detail, and the curation will be voted on by the community of Meridian token holders
Be a large and beautifully crafted tabletop art book with careful attention to detail: design, binding, typesetting, paper quality, etc
This book, like the Open Edition print run, aims to allow Meridian to be enjoyed by a wider audience, outside the scope of the NFT distribution and blockchain mechanisms. At the same time, I’m excited by the idea of a book that is co-created and co-curated by the community of Meridian owners, allowing them to cherry-pick the best outputs through permissionless blockchain voting mechanisms. To me, this feels like an interesting experiment for a generative and semi-autonomous art process: not only does the artist relinquish some degree of control to the randomizer, but also to the artwork’s collectors.
Note: The exact details of this book are TBD. This is not a promise to deliver it, but only a rough outline of an idea that I have begun to develop. The book may never be realized if it proves impractical or if there is not enough interest. I am still connecting with publishers to determine the best course of action, how feasible this print execution is, and how it can be done in a way that enables blockchain-based community curation. Likely timeline for this would be end of 2022 or later.
The 1,000 unique tokens editioned from the Meridian algorithm will be released with a Dutch Auction format, available to purchase from ArtBlocks.io/project/163 on Tuesday, September 28th, 5pm UK time (11am CT). The auction starts at a very high asking price (potentially in the 10-15 ETH range), and is lowered every 5 minutes until it meets a resting price of 0.25 ETH. This auction format is done to avoid a “gas war” competition and allow for a natural price discovery.
25% of proceeds from the primary sale of Meridian will be automatically directed to Processing Foundation via a smart contract split.
Secondary Market Precautions
Once all 1,000 tokens have sold, they will only be available on the secondary market, such as OpenSea. If you plan to purchase a token on the secondary market, please take proper care to:
Ensure you are purchasing from the verified ArtBlocks Playground contract, which will have a blue check next to its name. You can double-check the Details box, which shows the token originates from the contract 0xa7d8d9ef8d8ce8992df33d8b8cf4aebabd5bd270. Many unlisted look-alike collections have been appearing after ArtBlocks releases that attempt to scam naive collectors into buying a copy-cat token not distributed by the artist.
Ensure you are comparing the Token ID (such as 163000000, shown under Details) with the live view on ArtBlocks Generator (change the end of the URL to your ID) to verify that the images match. On rare occasions, moments after a drop, the thumbnails presented on OpenSea can be broken or out-of-sync from the on-chain token hash.
Update (October, 2021)
Meridian has now been fully minted & distributed through Art Blocks. To browse all 1,000 unique tokens, see the link below:
If you have questions about the artwork, or want to participate in the auction, hop into the #matt-deslauriers channel in the ArtBlocks discord.