0xDEAFBEEF, NFT Creator – Cointelegraph Magazine

0xDEAFBEEF, NFT Creator – Cointelegraph Magazine

When NFTs first took off, that was it Beeple’s digital art, CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club PFPs dominated the headlines and top sellers – but one person took hold of the trend in a unique way, garnering attention with generative audiovisual art using only a C compiler.

That person was 0xDEAFBEEFan artist and engineer based in Toronto, Canada who has spent over 20 years experimenting with art, technology, music, generative art, computer animation, blacksmithing and sound recording.

Using low-level computer code and a minimal toolset to create raw information for audiovisual works of art has proven more popular than you might expect. A collection of six of 0xDEAFBEEFs sold for $6.8 million in August 2021, and two weeks ago “Series 1: Angular – Token 134” fetched $241,300 at Sotheby’s. It was auctioned during Part 1 of “Grails”, a collection of highly desirable NFTs originally owned by the now insolvent 3AC (Three Arrows Capital).

Trained on classical piano as a child and a bit of a mad scientist when it came to audio equipment, discovering a programmable blockchain in Ethereum was a revelation.

“I would describe myself as a tinkerer, who jumps around between many fields, overlapping art and technology. It just so happened that the project that I started before I knew anything about NFTs, doing audiovisual work with code, happened to be aligned with things happening within Ethereum, says 0xDEAFBEEF.

– It was great timing. Looking back, had I missed that window in 2021 by three to six months, things could have looked a lot different.”

But like so many successful NFT artists who have emerged in the explosion of the new digital art era, “unplanned” is a common theme.

In March 2021, his “Synth Poems” were born, inspired by the sound of analog synthesizers. These short generative pieces of music are stored entirely on-chain.

NFTs that deteriorate in quality

NFTs have been a playground for experimentation, and 0xDEAFBEEF’s work “Entropy” is unique in that tokens degrade in quality every time they are traded.

“Entropy is thematically about permanence, and permanence is a theme for on-chain generative art. It’s a theme for crypto in general with things that are permanent and unchanging,” says 0xDEAFBEEF.

“It was interesting to me. There is a narrative that on-chain art is more permanent than other NFTs where the files are stored on another server and have the potential to disappear. But I asked myself the question of how unchanging it is through “Entropy.”

“Using the ‘Entropy’ artwork to paradoxically critique the idea of ​​permanence by having this digital artwork that changes and degrades every time it changes ownership – I thought that was an interesting thematic.”

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Since the recent introduction of the Blur marketplace, many NFT collections, especially PFP projects, have seen the emphasis on aesthetics wane, with most sales anchored at current floor prices. The question has also been asked about how many times an NFT is sent around between owners?

For some collectors, it actually does. Even if a digital artwork or collectible doesn’t face the same challenges of wear and tear as a physical item does, ownership history can be a factor, with some collectors putting a premium on those that haven’t been passed around like a hot item. potato.

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“Entropy” was an experiment ahead of its time. “People can have their own interpretation, but I don’t think it was necessarily a means to really discourage people from trading NFTs or transferring NFTs,” he says.

“Is it more valuable if it’s transferred or not? It’s up to the collectors to decide, but it adds to this narrative. It wasn’t really a way of keeping it to people buying and selling works – it’s obviously part of the culture. Negotiability and collectability is a very interesting dimension of NFTs. It’s really just a piece of art that touches on all these themes and at least asks you to consider it.”

Personal Style:

Many NFT collectors believe it is more difficult for digital artists who focus on sound to cut through as effectively as visual artists as sound takes longer to consume.

0xDEAFBEEF has been able to cut through this friction with his own distinct monochrome visual style which is a great hook to unlock the sonic aspect of the art.

“People see it before they hear it usually because of the dominance of social media – it’s all visually oriented. The monochrome aesthetic of my work is something that comes through a lot. There are a bunch of reasons why I work in monochrome. One of them is just to be practical because this was originally a sound-based project, he says.

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“I was focused on sound synthesis, and I was focused on movement and animation. Bringing these two things together is already many dimensions, so it’s too much to work with sound and with movement that can introduce color. Monochrome has kind of become a part of the style for those reasons.”

Notable sales to date:

DEAFBEEF Complete Set (6 items) — Sold for 2,275 ETH ($6.8 million on sale date) on August 19, 2021.

(The buyer was later revealed to be Brevan Howard founder Alan Howard.)

“Advection” (below) sold for $307,157 on June 29, 2022.


0xDEAFBEEF cites American musician Frank Zappa as someone who was very influential early on in the way he thinks about music and art.

“It’s about his music, but also about the spirit and ethos of it – sort of sticking to his guns and doing things for himself. Another way I think about is making things that aren’t necessarily for the public, he said.

“If it wasn’t for that meeting, I might have just continued my engineering degree and ended up in a boring job regretting things. It helped me give myself permission to do something more risky.”

“I don’t listen to Frank as much as I used to now. Looking back, he has some problematic kinds of themes and things. I don’t idolize him or anything, but he was still quite influential on me when I was young.”

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Which hot NFT artists should we be aware of?

Operator — Experiential duo of Ania Catherine and Dejha Ten.

“They have a long-standing art practice, but lately I think they are working with generative choreography. I find it very fascinating. They come at it from a very strong technical and conceptual aesthetic.”

Trevor Paglan — Satellites, deep time, seeing machines, infrastructure

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“Trevor is an investigative artist. He has a recent ‘Art Blocks’ drop that ties into other projects he’s doing that are related to security and privacy, which I think are very relevant at this time.”

Paul Pfeiffer — Video artist

“Paul is an amazing video artist. He is well known and is doing his first NFT with The art world. It really looks phenomenal.”

Holly Herndon — Artist who works with voice models and artists’ rights

“Holly has been studying artists’ rights at Stanford for a while. She has known what was coming for years now. She has worked with voice models. It’s fascinating stuff.”

Notable collectors:

The qualified electrical engineering genius of 0xDEAFBEEF has been collected by many notable NFT whale collectors, but it’s especially other artists that he pointed out that make him smile knowing they appreciate his work.

“I am extremely grateful to all my collectors and everyone who has taken an interest in my work. The most meaningful ones that have honestly made me smile have been art-for-art trades with other artists.”

“I replaced a “Glitch Box” with Snowfrog for more unminted “Chromie Squiggles”. I am very proud to have it in his collection and it is incredibly meaningful to receive these Squiggles.”

“I also swapped ‘Synth Poem’ with Mitchell F Chan, who is a conceptual artist who has been working on blockchain stuff. He has a very relevant 2017 project called “Digital Zones of Intangible Pictorial Sensibility.”

“So it is Jack Rockland, who has held one of my ‘Synth Poems’ all the way since March 2021. He works at ArtBlocks and is an artist himself. I am truly proud to have him as a long-time collector.”

Favorite NFTs in your wallet that are not your own:

“Stipple Sunsets” by Jack Rockland.

“It was the first NFT I minted that was not my own; plus, it was the work of a friend, so that makes it really meaningful to me.”


Twitter: https://twitter.com/_deafbeef


Greg Oakford

Greg Oakford

Greg Oakford is co-founder of NFT Fest Australia. A former marketing and communications specialist in the sports world, Greg now focuses his time on running events, creating content and consulting in web3. He is an avid NFT collector and hosts a weekly podcast covering all things NFTs.

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