Introduction to Generative Art

Introduction to Generative Art


Welcome to fxhash
Web3 Fundamentals
The fxhash Ecosystem

Getting Started

Initial Setup
Product Overview

Artist Guides

Project Setup and Artist Tools
The fx(hash) API
Generative Art with fx(params)
Browser Based Generative Art
Releasing your Project

Introduction to Generative Art

What is Generative Art? The modern definition: Generative art, an artistic practice, commonly involves using computer code and random processes to create a wide range of media artifacts.

However, art historians tend to define generative art more broadly as art produced with the assistance of a system or process. By that definition, there are examples of generative art dating back eons, including grids carved into stone by ancient peoples using a systematic approach:


What’s important to note is that generative art goes beyond strict imagery. Numerous examples exist where nature serves as the ultimate source of randomness to produce unique art, including in music, as exemplified by Aeolian wind harps and wind chimes.

By observing examples like that of the wind playing over the Aeolian harp in the above snippet, we see that the foundations for randomness in art have been laid since the earliest days and find inspiration in nature.

More recently, Dadaists and Surrealists began to experiment with chance in art, utilizing poetry, collage, and other mediums to embrace unpredictability and create unique pieces.


Later, the role of chance in art was taken to new levels with the invention of the computer, resulting in machine-co-created artworks that were algorithm dependent. Pioneers of this era, the 1960s, include Vera Molnár, Frieder Nake, and Georg Nees..


Generative Art History so far

1960s to 1990s: Early Experiments

Generative art as we know it today finds its roots in the 1960s when artists and computer scientists began experimenting with computer-generated visuals. Pioneers like Vera Molnár, Harold Cohen, and Manfred Mohr used algorithms to create geometric shapes, patterns, and abstract compositions.

2000s: Processing and OpenFrameworks

In the 2000s, the development of open-source programming platforms like Processing and OpenFrameworks played a key role in democratizing generative art. These tools allowed artists with little programming experience to learn from others and let experienced generative artists start sharing their works with the world more freely.

A comprehensive timeline on generative art history can be found in this archival and exploratory resource by Le Random:

Long-form Generative Art

All outputs of a long-form collection as seen together
All outputs of a long-form collection as seen together

In his seminal essay, THE RISE OF LONG-FORM GENERATIVE ART, Tyler Hobbs clearly outlined a definition for this new form of generative art. Some modifications have been made to make this definition accurate for Tezos and fxhash.

The artist creates a generative script (e.g. Fidenza) that is written to a blockchain or IPFS (as is the case on fxhash) Next, the artist specifies how many iterations will be available to be minted by the script. A typical choice is in the 100 to 1000 range. When a collector mints an iteration (i.e. they make a purchase), the script is run to generate a new output, and that output is wrapped in an NFT and transferred directly to the collector. Nobody, including the collector, the platform, or the artist, knows precisely what will be generated when the script is run, so the full range of outputs is a surprise to everyone.
Note the two key differences from earlier forms of generative art. First, the script output goes directly into the hands of the collector, with no opportunity for intervention or curation by the artist. Second, the generative algorithms are expected to create roughly 100x more iterations than before. Both of these have massive implications for the artist. They should also have massive implications for how collectors and critics evaluate the quality of a generative art algorithm

This new kind of artform marked a pivot point in how code artists approached generative art, especially in the advent of blockchain technology that made the distribution of generative art in a completely digital manner possible.

What is long-form generative art? A long-form generative artwork is a system that has the ability to generate a large variety of visually/aesthetically distinct, but stylistically coherent outputs.

Modern Generative Art

With many modern tools at the artists’ disposal, generative art has become a very multifaceted and nuanced artform that lies at the intersection of art and technology, drawing notions from the two fields for new kinds of artworks and experiences.

The role of the Artist

In generative art, the role of the artist extends beyond traditional methods. The artist designs the rules or systems that dictate the creation of the artwork. This requires a combination of creativity, programming skills, and a deep understanding of the algorithms and processes that will shape the final vision of the piece.

Collaborating with Technology

In the same manner that the artist doesn’t directly create the final artwork but rather constructs a framework for that purpose, it becomes a collaboration with the machine - a dialogue and ongoing conversation with technology. As much as it relies on building systems, it also embraces the unpredictability and emergent properties of the algorithms that bring these generative systems to life. This partnership allows for unique and unexpected results, which can challenge conventional notions of art and authorship.

Interactive Art

Generative art can be interactive, allowing viewers to participate and influence the artwork. By introducing user input, such as in fx(params) for instance, artists can create dynamic and ever-changing pieces that respond to the audience in real-time and let the collector determine the final result. The audience in this manner becomes a part of the artwork because they essentially bring it to life.

Immersive Experiences

Generative art can also be utilized to create immersive experiences in metaverse/VR/AR environments — for example, THE PASSAGE by H&N.

Inside THE PASSAGE, your actions determine the artistic output you receive. By combining generative techniques with these technologies, artists can develop rich, engaging worlds that blur the lines between art, entertainment, and storytelling.

Collectors as Co-Creators

Modern blockchain technology and the tools offered by fxhash transform the collector into a co-creator who actively participates in the artwork's creation process. In this manner artists not only build generative systems, but also interfaces that incorporate the decisions of their audience for the creation of the final artwork. More on this when we talk in more detail about fx(params)

In this manner artistic collaboration is reimagined and transformed.

When you're part of the creative process, it's only natural that you'll feel a deeper emotional and personal connection to the artwork. Your actions directly shape the final piece, potentially deepening your sense of ownership and pride in this new treasure. This connection can make the artwork more valuable and meaningful to a collector, both emotionally and financially.

The idea of collectors as co-creators in long-form generative art shakes up the traditional concept of artistic collaboration. It turns passive observers into active participants, and that's a game-changer. This collaborative approach adds a fresh layer of complexity and depth to the generative art experience, making it an exciting and engaging form of artistic expression.

Cultural Impact and the Art Market

Democratising art creation

Digital art on the blockchain has unarguably had a transformative effect on the art market. In particular generative art has helped democratize art creation, by enabling a wider range of individuals to participate in the process. Open-source tools, coding platforms, and online resources have made it easier for people to learn, experiment, and share their creations.

Generative Art and NFTs

The rise of NFTs and web3 platforms has had a significant impact on the generative art landscape. NFTs have given generative artists a new way to monetize their work, while collectors and enthusiasts can now own, trade, and invest in unique digital art pieces with unquestionable provenance. With fxhash it has never been easier to turn generative art into a career.