specture in relation to everywhen

I interpret the term Everywhen as being related to First Australians’ concept of place, time and story aligning with Country and the Dreaming — everything existing in time forever, all at once (Neale and Kelly 2020; McGrath, Rademaker and Troy 2023; Perkins and Langton 2010).

In practical terms, my works are digital JavaScript code-based drawings recorded and securely validated on the Tezos blockchain and hosted on IPFS (public filesharing nodes/servers). They are viewable in a web browser via a computer, personal device, monitor or projector/screen. The drawings include 3D models of the species that I’ve either created from 2D contour line drawings extruded to 3D or physical handmade models which were lidar / 3D scanned to create their digital forms. By storing the species onto the blockchain, it is a type of archiving of them, which raises questions especially if their forms have been altered during the conversion to digital and/or upload/minting process — archives, whilst definitely useful, can never describe perfectly the original species / artifact, and also may introduce biases and errors into the understanding of the original. We should endeavour to save the species now, rather than letting them become extinct.

The code-based drawings containing digital species creates a new ecology for the species — a digital ecology, a queer ecology (Morton 2010; Seymour 2013). The species' form has changed from its original flesh-based form. At times it appears to us as uncanny, even cute, at other times it moves towards the grotesque. It is now free from the bounds of gravity and can move spatially in new ways and make new connections. Evolution's rules apply differently in the digital world — chemical-based DNA controlled features may no longer apply. A parent drawing is created containing the base algorithm, then child drawings are generated automatically once the drawing is collected/minted by the viewer. Digital features and capabilities appear based on the blockchain metadata values. Can the species continue to evolve once born / minted to the blockchain or are they fixed once the child version is created?

The code tells the story — it provides structure, rules and moves the digital species around the drawing, randomly at times, according to algorithms in the code. Some code parameters are mapped to blockchain metadata values at the time the drawing is minted/instantiated to control things such as species movement direction, speed, rotation, scale, position etc, so the blockchain becomes both control, material and place/habitat for the species. New interconnections are made. As the digital species move around the drawing, they leave remnants and trails (drawn via code) which could be either or both memories of their physical habitats and environments and/or new digital habitats that they are creating in real time. The extinct species no longer exist in the physical world (in this State, some are endangered in other States), yet exist in digital space. Their memories and stories continue in this new place. The blockchain environment has become the species new landscape and environment — their new place, habitat and home.

The blockchain is a series of securely validated digital records stored on blocks which are created chronologically using 'block time' cadence (the duration of which can differ between chains) (Myers 2021). Drawings’ metadata and files can be mapped to the blocks and referenced as NFTs on various publishing sites and marketplaces. Once the work is instantiated / minted / published / born onto the blockchain, a record of it exists, and it is automatically and permanently linked to the files hosted on IPFS fileserver. The drawing, and hence the digital species then exists in the past, (relative to time following mint time), the present and the future. In the present and future, the species/drawing can be retrieved in its new form. It becomes everywhen. Records on the blockchain exist forever, or for as long as the chain exists. To 'delete' a record is really to transfer it to an inaccessible 'burn' wallet/id which then is hidden from the presentation site/marketplace UI. The record still exists, it is just not shown to the viewer. The record is still everywhen, just hidden from view, available in the burn wallet/id location. Therefore, the digital species can no longer become extinct — they exist everywhen at this point.

McGrath, Ann, Laura Rademaker and Jakelin Troy (Editors). 2023. Every When – Australia and the Language of Deep History. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.
Morton, Timothy. 2010. “Guest Column: Queer Ecology.” PMLA. 125 (2): 273-282. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25704424.
Myers, Rhea. 2021. “Blockchain Temporalities.” In, Proof of Work – Blockchain Provocations 2011-2021. 228-229. Falmouth, UK: Urbanomic Media.
Neale, Margo and Lynne Kelly. 2020. Songlines: The Power and Promise. Melbourne, Victoria: Thames and Hudson.
Perkins, Rachel and Marcia Langton (Editors). 2010. First Australians Unillustrated. Melbourne, Victoria: The Miegunyah Press. Kindle eBook edition.
Rose, Deborah Bird. 2017. “Shimmer — When All You Love Is Being Trashed.” In, Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene. Edited by Anna Tsing, Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan and Nils Bubandt. Location 910-1102. Minnesota and London: Minneapolis Press. Kindle eBook edition.
Seymour, Nicole. 2013. Strange Natures - Futurity, Empathy, and the Queer Ecological Imagination. Urbana, Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press. Kindle eBook edition.

Note: this text was written as a submission to an electronic arts festival/exhibition, which was not accepted, so publishing here as a text as part of my specture research

These are a couple of examples using species which are extinct in NSW, the bilby and the numbat.

Video documentation examples :
A Shimmer of Numbats. Video, 02:18. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJl6_yVCvt0

Bilby Shimmer. Video, 2:00. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6GL3ZkCuxE

The parent and child versions can also be viewed via Blockchain-based art platform fx(hash) links (playing
dynamically off the blockchain & IPFS):

A Shimmer of Numbats. 92 editions / versions. https://www.fxhash.xyz/generative/19814

Bilby Shimmer. 72 editions / versions. https://www.fxhash.xyz/generative/20956

Click on ‘open’ link under the thumbnail work to display full screen.

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