Storey NFTs - Seed
We were recently invited by fashion focused social media platform Storey to collaborate on a NFT art series that generates unique and beautiful artworks based on user submitted images. It’s their mission to create a more sustainable fashion economy through connected and digitised wardrobes.
Sales of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, reached $25 billion in 2021, demonstrating that the sector is one of the most sought-after markets in crypto.
While this seems either impressive or a touch crazy, much of the crypto art scene so far seems to be dominated by cartoons and memes, as projects like CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club have taken center stage. Although these projects are some of the most successful to date, a new subset of NFTs is emerging based on generative art.
However, too often the parameters that determine the resulting artwork have been based on fairly insignificant factors such as wallet address, transaction ID or gas price.
A Random Seed is a numerical value that is used to initialize a pseudo-random number generator. It is a digital fingerprint that allows seemingly random functions to be initiated with a deterministic outcome. If you run two identical dynamic simulations with the same random seed, they will calculate the same way every time, but the reverse is also true and if you provide the same system an alternative value the outcome will be unique every time.
We wanted to approach the project with a completely different perspective. One where the uniqueness of the generative artwork that was created would be based on items in your wardrobe. The resulting image would be completely personal to the user.
This was the starting point for Seed and became the central theme of our collaboration with Storey. Using the procedural toolkit inside Houdini we created a process that would analyse an image and then provide us with a random seed based on each image's unique colour information. This would guarantee that every submission would result in a completely distinctive outcome, but one that wouldn’t be entirely random. If a user was to submit the same image twice, they would receive the same result.
"This felt important to us as it ensured that the generated artworks were truly linked to the incoming data and not simply a random outcome every time. For every image there would be a digital seed, that seed would be planted and grow into a beautiful piece of digital art, bespoke to every user and embedded with the DNA of the data they provided."
It’s no coincidence that the word seed has been used to describe the inciting moment for a dynamic digital process. Just as in nature, the seed contains the blueprint that all subsequent actions will follow. When a plant grows it follows the same instructions as every other seed from its genus, but the exact outcome can never be exactly predicted and no two plants are the same. This formed the visual inspiration behind our piece. We wanted to develop a system that would use our digital seed to plant a virtual garden for each user. We looked into natural growth formations and manicured flower arrangements as inspiration to formulate a recipe that would create vibrant, rich, and visually varied outcomes based on a few key parameters.
To create the artworks we made extensive use of Houdini’s procedural toolkit, everything from the branch that our flowers bloom on and, the flowers themselves, to the colours of the foliage and backgrounds are all generated procedurally. Each and every component within the composition receives the unique seed and uses this to alter the growth patterns, branch configuration, foliage density, and many more aspects that give each artwork a distinct character.
Finally, every image was sampled and had its data used to create the colours of our foliage and backdrop for each image. This embedded each piece with a clear bit of visual output that relates very directly to each user’s submission. Our creative ambition was for the results to feel exciting and most importantly personal to the user that provided the image that created the seed.
Recently NFTs have evolved alongside blockchain technology and are forming a huge part of the renaissance in digital art. A piece of generative art can now be created by a smart contract and be stored on-chain in the form of an NFT directly owned by the wallet address that sends the crypto to run the smart contract.
There are obvious and legitimate concerns with regards to the carbon footprint of certain blockchain solutions. When interacting with NFT projects that rely on these technologies we have the responsibility to select the best platform based on it’s environmental and social impact.
Their focus on sustainability is completely inline with our own philosophy. The advent of new and emerging technology offers exciting opportunities to alter the way that the fashion industry is making, showcasing and retailing products to their audience. Designers and brands are exploring new ways to promote collections and reach customers to adapt to the age of social media and e-commerce.
If you would like to join the conversation or learn more about NFTs or our process please check out the Discord server.
- Written by
Niall Thompson & Dickon Knowles
- Images by
dandelion + burdock