Bark Blocks: The First NFT Photography Project Minted on Verto

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“[Bark Blocks] combines the ideas of generative art, future-proof data storage, beauty and photography.” (Twitter)

Bark Blocks is a fine-art project by Christopher James (articulate.eth / filmplusdigital) – an Australia-based photographer who home-develops and scans his own film. 

One of the things I love about film is that it’s unpredictable and gives me permission to fail. Another is that if I develop my film carefully and store it correctly then it will last 100 years.” (Twitter)

Bark Blocks – a wordplay on the famouse generative art project Art Blocks – is an NFT collection inspired by nature and blockchain technology; the point being that the bark is randomly generated by nature. The collection called Series One consists of 1/1 images of the Eastern Australia-native Melaleuca quinquenervia or Paperback tree. Christopher James told Verto:

“I have been fascinated by the unique bark patterns since childhood. These photos emerge from that fascination but also combine ideas from blockchain technology. Nature is the OG “generative artist”. Each bark pattern is verifiably unique, similar and repetitive. There is a fractal-like pattern to the photos that gives an experience reminiscent of watching an open fire. The more you look, the more you see. The volume of data contained in these natural blocks is immense and humbling.”

The project itself lives on Verto, where it was originally posted. Verto is an exchange for any kind of  token used by Arweave apps, or NFTs. The reason for an Arweave-based exchange was the artist’s interest in the permanence of blockchain technology and NFTs. As he is creating art to last,he needed to find storage that is focused on longevity. 

As a tribute to Verto, Christopher James even made them an alternative logo:

Some of the Bark Blocks project is stored as NFTs on Koii, a platform that allows anyone to easily mint NFTs, and rewards creators with KOII tokens for each view the NFT gets.

Given that Arweave works on a pay-per-upload basis – making it more cost-friendly – and offers long term storage, it’s a logical choice to store the art project on the blockchain. The artist speaks of the similarities in the long and complex nature of DNA storage of tree barks and Arweave’s own data storage incentives. 

Nature as generative art, stored permanently on a blockchain that incentivises data reproduction and propagation forward in time, released into a crazy NFT mania with all the potential for reward and disaster of home-developing film.”  (Twitter)

Christopher James’ other projects include Sydney in lockdown (1 and 2), Time flies: pinhole film photography and Postcards from the Pandemic – Lost Childhood with a companion piece “Discarded Masks” which is a more rough, experimental project and a testament to the unique time we are currently living in. Follow Chris on Twitter here.

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