Disclaimer: the interviewer and writer is an artist who has happily been using the NFT platform Async Art for some time and made this article without any paid sponsorship of any kind. I just find the creative tools they provide invaluable!
Asynchronous Art AKA Async is a crypto art platform that provides creative tools to make autonomous and programmable art without knowing any code. I stumbled upon it when I stepped into NFTs for the first time, through two foundational pieces: “First Supper” and “Right Place & Right Time”.
The former is a collective interactive crazy patchwork of styles, obviously a parody of Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” made by artists such as XCOPY, Josie Bellini, Matt Kane, Alotta Money,, Hackatao, Coldie, Connie Digital and more. Each element of the artwork is called a layer and can be altered in many ways (rotation, scale, XY position, visibility, opacity, hue and RGB values) by its owner, and the result is displayed on the Master artwork, which is the final sum of all individual layer choices.
The latter is an interesting semi-autonomous piece by Matt Kane, a pioneering piece best explained in the description of the Master: “Each day, a new composition for the Master is generated autonomously using a data feed of Bitcoin’s last 24 hours of price action. Each hour’s price programmatically controls rotation, scale, and position of a correlating layer. Astute viewers will surmise the day’s price volatility simply by examining the artwork.” It is semi-autonomous as the artist chose to keep a control layer to fine-tune aesthetics and react to events.
With these two foundational crypto art pieces, you have a first experience of what Async makes possible: mutability of the art (based on autonomous features like time and cryptocurrency volatility, or intended choice like a collector choosing between different variants of one layer), possible collective ownership (the owner of the final artwork – the Master – is often not the owner of the other layers, and I have witnessed a nice interaction between two owners of the layers of my piece “Cryptoforce” working together to achieve a certain outcome), creative input from the collector who is part of the final artwork. All that, without knowing any code.
As I wanted to know more about the most creative NFT platform to date, I reached out to Async to dive further into it.
J: Thanks for taking the time for this interview, really excited to learn more about Async and share it with the readers. First things first, can you share with us the Genesis of Async Art, how it came to be, and how crazy the era of very sparse artists and custom code was for you?
A: Thank you for sharing our story! Async was Conlan’s initial idea, and in part because he was already collecting cryptoart on other platforms. He wanted to make an interactive piece in which the collector can also be an active participant, but instead of doing it himself, he invited all the artists he collected from to try making the first Async artwork – First Supper – together.
J: So the First Supper is the first Async piece, that’s legendary stuff right there! You didn’t stop there: the past few months, you’ve decided to not limit the creative tools you provide to visual artists, and introduced a groundbreaking adaptation of them to music. Can you briefly explain the basics?
A:The same concept we are using for Masters & Layers on the art side, we are replicating it for music! An Async Music piece consists of several Stem Layers that can be changed to impact the audio and visual output of the Master track. We’ve even let the musicians upload different states of the artwork, so that their album cover changes as the audio Layer changes.
One new feature we introduced alongside the music launch is Limited Edition Blanks. We soon found that the everyday collector was priced out of owning Async pieces, so with the Limited Edition Blanks, we are offering them at much more affordable Buy Now prices, with added CC support, so that more people can experience programmable music!
Blanks are essentially a token the user can purchase and use it to record the latest state of the Master track, essentially capturing a snapshot in time as well as saving a preferred track variation as the music can essentially change the next day. We’ve seen many new collectors enter Async as a result of this new feature, so it definitely feels like we’re expanding in a positive, genuine fashion.
J: Alright, let’s make it clearer with an example: “DECASENTRY”, an arpeggio-filled electro banger by Mike Shinoda, who also made the cover art himself. You can still buy the Master or Layers on primary, and people have already started buying Editions. For instance, one combination was printed in Gold rarity (only 10 NFTs are possible at that rarity level) by Basileus. 4 stems (music Layers, often instrumental tracks) can be bought and gives their owners the exclusive ability to choose which variants of the stem plays in the final mix, AKA the Master. What’s in it for the Master owner’s advantage? Can collectors who buy blanks print the same mix from another blank with different scarcity?
A: The Master owner on our platform is considered the 1/1 owner of the entire piece. Their username shows up on multiple On the music side, whenever the Master or Layer is sold, the Limited Edition recordings that are made thereafter will have the new owners’ name on their NFTs.
Think of making the Limited Recordings as snapshots in time. They preserve exactly who is owning what, what the current state of the Master track is at that moment, and even records the exact blockheight you minted the NFT at. So to answer the second question, yes collectors can mint the same mix on their blanks, but it’s still a slightly different 1/1.
J: Interesting, very focused on the blockchain ecosystem,then. Definitely adding value to both collectors and artists, and allowing them to play together in new ways. I was blown away when I understood what the tools made possible for visual artists, and it’s really the same power that you gave to musicians. You onboarded an impressive roster for its launch – how did they react to this new way of making music with collectors? Any interesting stories to share from these first few months?
A: We’re so grateful for all the musicians who came in to give Async Music a try. Every single one of them were eager to be the first ones, as well as commented that this seems like a natural next step for music creation, especially on a digital Web3 front.
What surprised us is that despite the different genres, all the musicians said uploading the works in Stems and Layers seemed very natural and not that much different from their usual creation process. As well as just delighted at the amount of possibilities they can create in a single work. For instance, Pak and Lee Gaito used the possibilities to the max with 9 Stems having each 9 variants (which sums up to 387420489 possibilities).
J: A new tool feeling natural to use right off the bat, impressive, looking forward to try it out. But let’s go back to visual art. Besides being able to choose between variants of a layer, the main tool for artists has been to produce time-based change in their art, first with the day and night cycles, then adding sunrise and sunset times, and the latest, the hourly change, which I used in my new piece “loopqool”, where the character is a real sneakerhead exploring fashion as an inner space experience, a different pair of surreal shoes being worn every hour.
The craziest time-based piece is arguably Yura Miron’s “Alien”: using AI-generated art, the artist put together a series of 366 pieces, the Master thus displaying a different piece of art every day of the year – imagine: if you especially like one piece, you’ll have to wait another year to see it again. A very special art experience.
I know you’re always working on new features, can you share with us some hints about the future of Async for visual artists? What is to be expected beyond time-based change?
A: That’s great that you brought up the issue of having to wait an entire year to see your favorite variation. What if there’s a tool on the visual art side to allow for snapshotting a favorite state just like how we created Limited Edition Blanks for Async Music?
And an additional food for thought. What if artists can create “worlds” with “characters”? 😉
J: So much potential, I know! “Printing” combinations could also allow a collector to turn a deeply layered piece in, say, an avatar collectible generator, or in any case an art generator. I’d definitely play with this. Anything else you want to share with us?
A: Thank you Jaen for your wonderful Async contributions, for your thoughtful insights on the platform and taking the time to share our story.
Async was created for the creators, for the artist within each one of us. These are foundational blocks that we are building for future generations, where everything is digital and programmable art is an everyday occurrence. We cannot be more excited to see what is to come!
J: Me too, thanks a lot for sharing all this with us!
This month’s content is sponsored by…
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