Written by Jæn
In his latest NFT, Jæn begins to weave a story about the two fascinating places where burnt tokens go to die: 0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000 & 0x000000000000000000000000000000000000dEaD. Artists Atlaude and Glowa join in as this experiment with the Etherean afterlife unfolds.
Jæn: I’ve been toying with this idea of making art pertaining to the Burn Address for a long time. It’s a fascinating part of blockchain mythology, and as such, I expect it to become a recurrent theme in crypto art. These two addresses could be symbolised as a white hole and a black hole, as nothing can be retrieved from these addresses once it’s sent. 0x0 is the Null, the ex nihilo from which all tokens and contracts emerge, effectively burning tokens and hosting more than 8000 ethers and almost a billion dollars in ERC20 tokens. 0xdEaD is the Burn Address, amassing 12000 ethers and more than an 8 billion dollars in ERC20 tokens, and according to OpenSea, an unassailable treasure chest of 26000 NFTs. Everyone can see, no one can touch. I find this idea of a graveyard where tokens end in a kind of afterlife of Ethereum extremely poetic and romantic.
As I started to explore 0xdEaD and to put the black hole’s puzzle pieces together, I found an interesting mix of NFTs, notably: a lot of Pak’s cubes burn for $ASH, planet-themed NFTs – standing in the blockchain void like forsaken virtual worlds, a valuable Metakey by RTFKT, Cryptopunk #2317 burnt by Robness, a failed minting experiment of my own in form of an animated mushroom, and last but not least, the beautiful remnant’s of Atlaude’s self-sabotaging and aptly burnt NFT character after a short life on SuperRare, entitled “Trash Must Burn”. We started to talk and we were mind-boggingly synchronised in our attempt to create art revolving around the Etherean dead.
Atlaude: In pain and reconciliation Saboteur Me was born, a project consisting of animated characters fighting their inner demons, ultimately seeking for self-acceptance. “Trash Must Burn” was the tip of the spear, the flagship and most iconic of them all, the one loved by the audience and the public face of the collection. One of the biggest strengths of blockchain is immutability as we all assume, neither Trash Must Burn nor I knew what was going to be his fate, but his minting baptism was an early sign. He was a chapter that couldn’t be modified, but he started a story that surpassed himself. As his creator, a fire was slowly growing inside of me for weeks and I knew that I had to buy back the piece to burn it myself, which would lead to a proper renaissance (“rebirth”). The ending and the beginning that he deserved.
Trash must burn, and from the ashes a new being must rise.
The poetry of the name, the figure burning on loop eternally, everything was designed unintentionally for this ritual to happen. For my understanding, this was a first timer in crypto art, but a recurrent concept in human history.
At that time, I discovered I wasn’t alone investigating in the digital graveyard. Scary? Exciting. The connection was natural, the shared commitment and the passion led to a bigger project, there was an artist not only focusing on a single piece, but embracing the full picture. Felt the amazement of a kid who discovers a secret house in the forest, Jæn was there.
Jæn: So, I wanted to send something in 0xdEaD that could still communicate with us outside. A City for the dead, that can talk back to you. In a real black hole, there’s little chance anything can survive spaghettification by gravitational doom when crossing the event horizon and being sucked in for good. So, I imagined building a city with virtual particles (which are short-lived ripples in a field, not really particles), something that hasn’t acquired any mass through the Higgs field and doesn’t fully exist. No hard science here, mind you: I explore a fictional reality where entanglement (two particles being roughly one particle, thus instantly changing the same way no matter the distance) allows for communication between the inside and outside of a black hole. Entangled virtual particles don’t make sense in reality, but quantum communication does.
Anyway, the Entangled City Of The Etherean dEaD was minted on SuperRare, in all its flickering existential glitchy glory, and sent to the Burn Address. Then, Atlaude’s Burnt man found it, along with something experimental we sent along with the City, that should for now be called the X Device.
Atlaude: The Burnt is the ash embryo who tries and fights the impossible, forever locked and sucked back by the hole of 0xdEaD.
The apparition of the Entangled City Of The Etherean dEaD was the inflection point and the sign of hope he needed to abandon his everlasting state of apathy, and try the unthinkable. However, as much as he desires it, in his current state, it’s blatantly obvious for the Burnt that he won’t break through the barrier alone. This is where the X Device comes into play as the crucial, precise, only way out.
The embryo must be born at the right time. Otherwise, his body won’t be prepared nor able to resist the shocking forces in his trip back to the bright side of the blockchain. The internal timer of X was activated at minting time and is currently running as programmed.
Jæn: Now that a two-way communication has been established through the City’s Quantum Tower, it was time to work in collaboration with Glowa‘s magic for an artist duet’s view of the data collected with the 0xdEaD experiment: 0x000000000000000000000000000000000000dEaD. It features our own eyes peeking at the Burn Address, a blackhole-keyhole without a key, cameos from lost ether crystals and NFTs mentioned earlier, the City in its black-hole neon incarnation (as it has reached 0xdEaD), the mysterious X Device, the Burnt, and a ghostly redux hash loop of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.
The story is not over yet, as we have to explore 0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000, the X Device through a loophole I believe might actually work, and through the eyes of the Burnt, ponder on the question “can anything escape Ethereum’s 0xdEaD?”
Atlaude: The immutability brought by blockchain must be deeply explored. We can certainly not alter it with traditional tech, only play with it, so art is our ultimate weapon to break the barriers and try our best to understand what “crypto dead” means. If we can still visit our dead tokens, does death really exist in its complete form in Cryptoland? Is there an ultimate graveyard, a one-way black hole inside the known black hole where data disappears? If the X Device fails at the melting point, what’s the fate of the Burnt?
P.S. from Jæn: The X Device was created on Async Art. The Master, which is the final result of all its components, was sent to 0x000000000000000000000000000000000000dEaD. The X Device Control Layer is gifted to the owner of the Burnt, the 0xdEaD Data Control Layer to the owner of the 0x000000000000000000000000000000000000dEaD NFT.
It’s historic: using technology provided by Async, we built the first NFT device designed to interact with and change an NFT stored in the Etherean dEaD. Both experimental Control Layers allow their operators to change the burnt Master token. Both owners can now choose between 3 variants of each layer, and the resulting combination will reflect in the entangled Master, now gone to the BurnAddress forever.
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