A Fundamental Dispute is a different kind of NFT project. It exists fully on-chain, meaning that all of the code and data needed to render the artwork in your browser is living indefinitely on the Ethereum blockchain. The same blockchain securing trillions of dollars in transactions is also securing your piece of A Fundamental Dispute, ensuring it's retrievable as long as Ethereum is confirming transactions. It's one of the most durable ways data and computation can be preserved online—inside the world computer.

AFD also has no legible traits, meaning it is not possible to view or filter pieces based on traits (e.g. sky, terrain, etc.). We find it strange that most generative art is viewed from the lens of metadata. Each piece is meant to be enjoyed holistically—like you would enjoy a real sunset. And we've snuck in a way for the collection to evolve and mature over time.

No royalties are taken, meaning that your piece is yours, truly. We have no desire to make money on you reselling your piece. Instead, we are withholding some pieces, thus aligning incentives between creators and collectors.

From the artist

The title (A Fundamental Dispute) and number of pieces (436) are inspired by a line in the Talmud: Rabbi Meir's response is connected to the fundamental dispute over when night begins (2b18). When you look at your piece, I hope you feel a hint of what they felt—sincerity, curiosity, and gratitude for the world and its mysteries and wonders.

I've been trying to learn to draw for as long as I can remember. Although I'm perennially disappointed in the outputs, I have fond memories of graph paper and cross-hatching and wobbly lines. You'll find all of these in this collection.

Every time you look at a sunset, sunrise, or sky filled with clouds, you're looking at something that will never exist again in precisely that way. AFD is the opposite—a chance or an attempt to “capture a cloud.”

As a kid I used to take long, long drives across Texas with my Dad. There wasn't much to see except cropland, woods, and clouds. Clouds were the star of all of my daydreams. Today I see them as a push for earnestness and a turn away from cynicism. You can go outside right now—wherever you might be—and see a beautiful sky. I'm never disappointed to look up and I hope you feel the same.

From a creative coding perspective, this project has a relatively simple foundation—clouds are made by first drawing a grid of tiny circles, altering their position (this is the tough part), and then re-drawing those circles again, but with a fill. Each piece loops through the cloud-generator ~75 times, yet most pieces will only have 5-10 visible clouds. Just like in nature, it takes the perfect combination of dozens of variables to create a cloud. Cross-hatching is done via tiny dashed lines and noise-weighted shading. Texture is accomplished through thousands of semi-transparent squiggly lines. Hills are drawn through 100s of overlapping, dense lines. Trees are primarily made of frustration and, just like in nature, they are riddled with bugs.

Last year I felt perpetually stuck and captured by “abstract art”. Nearly everything I made felt meaningless and “good”. On a whim I made a flower and eventually found solace and inspiration in trying to recreate nature inside of a computer. I started with tiny flowers, took a detour into birds, and ended up with these clouds and an entirely new approach to my practice.

Notable inspiration included: William Ascroft's Krakatoa paintings, wood etchings, and gold leaf.


From the developer

I grew up programming on a TI-83 calculator and building on the early-2000's web, so the constraints of the EVM (the computer part of the world computer) are a familiar and fun challenge for me. Writing smart contracts for the EVM is a very different programming paradigm, where there's a little room for error and a lot more at stake. Putting a generative art project like AFD on-chain is particularly tricky because it depends on a heavy, but powerful, library called p5.js.

Storing and retrieving files isn't something the EVM is built for. To help with this, I built EthFS, a “filesystem” for the Ethereum blockchain. My primary motivation was to create a public, on-chain repository of highly reusable files that we, as a community of creatives, can use in our projects—Javascript libraries, sounds, fonts, etc. And we, as a community, got p5.js on chain.

I'm also a big fan of building in public and learning from those who do. It's what drew me to Adam's work. His early AFD experiments caught my eye, and once I had a concrete path towards putting something like AFD on chain, I reached out to see if he wanted to collaborate. Now here we are!

I hope this work can demonstrate the power of fully on-chain artwork and inspire more durable forms of NFTs.