Please note: In my previous blog post, I explained the terms of digital wallets and seed phrases (frequently used in this post), you can find it here.
Encouraged by the results of my last visualization, I decided to create a more complex generative art project. In the previous visualization I focused on a phonetic division of the 2,064 seed phrase words; although pleased with the result, it was not cohesive enough with my current concept of exploring blockchain technology through the subject of clouds.
Clouds and their intangibility are an interesting symbol for representing assets in a digital wallet. I find the analogy to clouds particularly intriguing, as we store only the rights to assets in our digital wallets while the actual digital assets remain permanently on the blockchain; the digital assets therefore remain intangible much like clouds in the sky. It is a concept which I had to learn to appreciate as a newcomer to the technology and I believe most people will have to as well.
The visualizations below show the steps in the process of creating an additional piece for my first solo exhibition.
1st Stage: Conversion to Hashes
In this visualization I wanted to dive deeper into technical backgrounds in order for my process to replicate how a digital wallet handles the seed phrase words. Therefore, I encrypted these seed phrase words to hexadecimal (0-9 + a-f) hashes, as it is done in a digital wallet.
Example: Seed Phrase word abandon becomes the hash:
I visualized these alphanumerical hashes generatively, meaning that the values of the hashes determine the shape and colour.
2nd Stage: Seed Phrase Word Visualization
As you can see in the image below, I began by taking a base photo of the sky, from which I created a gradient from the lightest to the darkest colours in the sky.
I then converted this gradient into 16 colour fields, to match the 16 possible values of the hexadecimal scale. I also created an algorithm which translates a hash, determining the colour and distribution of the shapes within the grid. The result is each seed phrase word created two 4×4 grids: one of squares and one of circles. By overlaying the squares and the circles offset, a block was created for each word.
In the image above, the detail shows how the algorithm combines all the seed phrase word blocks together into a collage of the whole seed phrase word list.
3rd Stage: Cloud Seed Phrase Visualization
I further developed the algorithm by dissolving the grid and instead of colouring the shapes I created elliptical outlines of the hash values. The hash values determine the height and width of each ellipse. Running this algorithm through all seed phrase words, I created 16,400 ellipses.
Similar to transparent droplets of water forming clouds in nature, I set the ellipses almost fully transparent, but due to the amount of overlapping of the ellipses, the lines created a white cloud. Going back to the initial photo of the sky, I cut the background out and superposed the generated cloud. I like the mix of digital photography and generative art; it can be seen as a mix of nature and technology, and also a mix of “traditional” digital art with one of the newest digital algorithm-based forms of art. In the end it’s interesting to think that this visualization is at its core just a spreadsheet with numbers, which is something so abstract and technical, and yet it was possible to recreate an element of nature with the data.
To return to my initial part of this blog post, the cloud is a good symbol for digital wallets in my opinion because it suggests a defined shape yet it remains intangible.