All At Once

  • Artists
  • Sarah Meyohas
  • Matto – Shinkai
  • Rhea Myers
  • Mia Forrest
  • rudxane
  • Jennifer and Kevin McCoy
  • OTO
  • John Provencher
  • Constant Dullaart

Blockchains are clocks. We think of Bitcoin and other blockchains as stores of value, but they cannot store value without first delineating time. An accurate and indisputable record of transactions functions as a replacement for the authority of a bank. Ordinals are a way to log the creation and ownership of artworks on Bitcoin that sits closer to the conceptual origins of blockchains–and their reliance on chronology–than other NFTs. Ordinals are small notes attached to the ceaseless production of Bitcoin transactions, the ordering of these inscriptions is absolute, indisputable, and as everlasting as the blockchain itself.

Art history has long been fixated on chronology, perhaps to a fault. Which development preceded another? Which artist did it first? Where did an idea begin? Inscribing artworks on a blockchain provides a clear provenance, but this certitude comes with a cost. Technology exists to solve problems, while art often creates them. The challenge is to make generative, unruly work in the context of technological solutionism. How can artists create interesting problems in a world obsessed with solving them? Artists often challenge convention, and in this exhibition they are invited to rethink chronology and time within ordinal sequencing. Time can be a subjective and dynamic material when artists work with the blockchain, a technology that has chronology at its core.

By Kevin Buist


The full essay by Kevin Buist is published on Outland.


All the inscriptions of the works can be viewed here.

Sarah Meyohas — Screenshot of the original Bitchcoin Mine, 2015-03-08 04:19:15 PM

Sarah Meyohas first launched Bitchcoin in February of 2015 at Where, a gallery in Brooklyn, New York. Meyohas wrapped the interior of the gallery, headquartered in a 40-foot shipping container, with a reflective mylar surrounding a single mining computer and monitor. The space was viewable through a live-streamed webcam, and token buyers received a certificate with key number encryption granting them access to the Bitchcoin software program.

Bitchcoin initially operated as a fork of Bitcoin and could be exchanged in perpetuity for the artist's work, each backed with a five-inch by five-inch portion of her Speculations photographs. At the time, Ethereum had not yet launched, and tokenizing art on the Bitcoin blockchain directly was not yet possible.

Almost a decade later, with the recent development of Bitcoin Ordinals, Meyohas returns to the Bitcoin blockchain to inscribe this history onto a satoshi from Block 346783. This block was in the process of being mined at the same time that the inscribed screenshot of the gallery's webcam was taken, which is timestamped 04:19:15 PM Eastern Time on March 8th, 2015, highlighting the temporal nature of Bitcoin Ordinals compared to counterparts like Ethereum NFTs.

Rhea Myers — Portents

Portents comprises three files inscribed on the blockchain: the logotype, the whitepaper, and a spreadsheet containing a list of Bitcoin proof-of-work block hashes and the Ordinal numbers that can be found at the end of them when both are treated as simple strings of bits.

"Portents: Proof of Prophecy on the Bitcoin Blockchain" is a scheme proposed by Rhea Myers to encode references to Ordinals in Bitcoin block hashes. By searching for these references in the blockchain, any found would act as proof of future events, essentially functioning as prophecies. The paper outlines strategies to become worthy of these portents.

Myers started to work with hand-crafted Bitcoin transactions early in 2014 for Proof of Existence and soon moved on to using CounterParty, which was the most popular token system on top of Bitcoin until Ordinals were theorised. Their first Ordinal Portents relates to Proof of Existence in terms of the gap between what it purports to show and the reality of the blockchain.

Myers emphasises the element of numerological mysticism in Ordinals, noting that while numerology is traditionally used to predict the future, Bitcoin's proof-of-work system is used to prevent anyone from rewriting the past.

Jennifer & Keving McCoy — Spinner

Spinner is the new instalment in a series of generative digital drawing works that explore metaphors used in computer networks that are taken from nature. Working from web simulation research done in the 90's, Spinner creates a series of deconstructed and hybridized spider webs, drawn over a raster scanline background.

As our world becomes ever-more digital and disembodied, technological systems employ evocative physical words from nature: trees, webs, trunks, leaves, swarms, clouds, worms, pools, etc. This suggests to us a sense of subliminal loss as the natural world recedes from view.

The code in Spinner cycles on a regular timing, its program loop segmented into distinct formal moments based on elapsed duration. More broadly, all of our nature-based metaphors for network technology embody time in different manners along different scales and cycles. In a very real way they are simply different faces to the same underlying reality of time passing.

Mediaeval philosophers and theologians conceived of the Great Chain of Being - a hierarchy of all matter from humble minerals to exalted angels, all arranged under the decree of God. Today, this role is assigned to time, through concepts like the Big Bang, evolutionary fitness, or a genesis block. Bitcoin makes explicit this shift, in Satoshi's original coinage - the timechain. Bitcoin's transparency allows us to see how each epoch forms, with the predictable regularity of block after block. The dynamism makes it the perfect format for code-based simulations.

OTO — Entropy

Entropy is a generative art piece created using Bitcoin blockchain data, visualising the dynamism of the data, while reflecting on the intricate relationship between time and entropy in this chain. It showcases how visual entropy increases as Bitcoin block height grows. By employing noise and random partition patterns, it generates unpredictable visuals, demonstrating how complexity and disorder evolve over time.

This artwork uses real-time blockchain data, including block height, transaction count, total size, and average fee rate, to influence the visuals. This makes Entropy a direct reflection of Bitcoin's current state. The constantly changing visuals reflect the unpredictable and ever-evolving nature of the blockchain.

Interactive elements allow viewers to engage deeply, offering an immersive experience that highlights the complexity and dynamism of Bitcoin. Through this exploration, Entropy invites viewers to consider how time and entropy intertwine within the digital ledger, revealing the underlying order and chaos of the cryptocurrency's ecosystem. This piece is inscribed on an uncommon alpha sat from 2010 and will continually be updated now and forever.

Rudxane — Bootleg

Bootleg explores the idea of giving full ownership of an instruction set and giving the collector control of the distribution of the potential output space.

Bootleg is self-aware of context, meaning it will behave differently when viewed directly vs. loaded into a child inscription. When viewing the inscription directly it will render as a HTML page outlining the concept and intended scope of the work, recording the artist intent immutably as part of the algorithm. When the inscription is loaded into a child inscription through recursion it will behave as an algorithm to generate a specific output defined by the hash supplied in the child inscription. This gives the new owner of the inscription full control of distribution of the algo; they can choose to leave the inscription as is and keep it a purely conceptual artwork or decide to either curate or randomize hashes and generate an arbitrary amount of outputs from the algorithm. Because of the parent/child relation used in Ordinals for provenance, the collector can generate child inscriptions which become part of the full artist provenance tree.

The “Tijd” algorithm used in Bootleg is visually inspired by Partituur, a work by Ulises Carrión, displaying the units of time from the Gregorian calendar in an abstract form along a grid structure. This grid structure is constantly updating the relative values that decide where the time units are placed, whilst connecting different units of the same denomination. This creates both order and chaos in the work and helps the viewer understand and read the current time displayed within the piece.

Mia Forrest — Time waves

Time waves suggest video as a spiritual mediumship machine. The three 1/1 video works use analog + digital video synthesis as a spiritual modality to summon colour and light theory to ordinals.

Traditionally, Spiritualist artists operated as “world receivers”, communing through seances to conjure cosmically informed stream-of-consciousness painting and drawing, guided by external messengers. Well and truly in the era of digital modalities, how does the Spiritual artist transcend the rigid [time] canvas of ordinal theory?

Finding harmony with blockchain as a medium, each colour spectrum of R-G-B and its frequency in GHz are transposed and inscribed into the relative time stamped block, enabling the theory of colour and light to illuminate the Ordinals ecosystem, permanently.

Each of the three video artworks begin as coloured circles (R-G-B) baked into a vintage CRT screen via an early 90’s Panasonic vision mixer. Each circle is subject to recursive feedback loops between the vintage CRT and a JVC VHS-C camcorder, then captured to VHS tape. These are transferred digitally, and further abstracted using a digital slit scan process.

The symbolism of the circular sun, omnipresent throughout the video pieces in the centre of the frame, is a pertinent reminder of the sun as the source of life and energy, and of course, the sun as light to refract the visible light spectrum of wavelengths we perceive as colour.

John Provencher — [test]

[test] is a generative script that tests various image processing/downscaling algorithms, exploring the image's resilience to resolution and dither.

The Mona Lisa is often used for image-based algorithms [compression, noise reduction, image scaling and interpolation, edge detection, colour correction, etc …] due to its detailed and recognizable features. Over time, the original painting remains in a continuous flux of digital transformations as it serves as a benchmark for these algorithms & programs. These endless variations push the material limits of the original painting... Pixels are stretched, assorted, down/up-sized, and re-arranged, making the Mona Lisa a digital motif of endless variation.

[test] is an exploration of form within the limitations of the past, where colours and resolution were limited and screens were textured, hued, faded. Even within these limitations, the generative potential of a single image is endless and the possibility for new images arise with each output.

Matto — Shinkai — Strange <Block> Buddha

Strange <Block> Buddha offers deterministic and unique variations of the Buddhabrot with each new Bitcoin block. Diverging from traditional Buddhabrot renderings of the Mandelbrot set, Strange <Block> Buddha utilises a unique coloration method and a rotating colour order that shifts with every Bitcoin difficulty period.

In Buddhist philosophy, time is often considered an illusion – a result of the mind tethered to the continuous flow of existence. With each Bitcoin block, a period of time is forever crystallised in its immutable ledger. Although we await the arrival of future blocks, we can perceive and understand their place in history, as the blocks that alter mining difficulty or reward follow a predictable sequence. Strange <Block> Buddha allows us to transcend the linear constraint of our perception of time and view the entire past, present, and future of Bitcoin blockheights through its lens.

With each block, a new and distinct Strange <Block> Buddha emerges, its rendered image never to be repeated. These outputs from the algorithm that change every ten minutes are impermanent, beautiful snapshots of the current moment. At the same time, by human intervention through use of URL parameters, any and every blockheight is perceptible – at all times. This dichotomy of impermanence and permanence illustrates the profound interplay between the finite and the infinite, and relates back to Buddhist notions of the illusion of time.

Strange <Block> Buddha invites the viewer to reflect on our relationship with time and explore possibilities that lie beyond the veil of our day-to-day, temporal existence, where every moment is significant, like every block, but fleeting.

Constant Dullaart — THE

THE, draws on Brian Droitcour’s 2009 review of Dullaart’s Readymades. The review proclaimed it to be a ‘study of the relationship of the index to its referent’.

The work asks us to contemplate the relationship between the inscription from the blockchain to the artwork, and vice versa. Can the work exist beyond a single inscription? One can be nostalgic for a time in which we regarded the future differently. At the same time we can imagine a future where we see the past in a different light. Can we publish an artwork in a reverse order? Not like a prequel to a movie, more like ending a sentence now but starting it in the future? The immutable will not be immune to a change of context, nothing lasts forever.

THE reflects on the nostalgia and future visions of this last decade, and can only be completed by going back in time, looking at the versions of rewritten history within the structure of the Bitcoin blockchain, while remembering the now, or was it the future? The work is a celebration of versioning. It is composed of a series of images, inscribed one after another on the same ordinal. You can view one inscription at a time, but the work will only appear in its full form if you look at all the inscriptions that came before.

Dullaart is a conceptual artist whose work engages with the internet as a medium. In 2014 he developed a ‘proto-NFT’ on, a Bitcoin-based protocol and app to secure digital art assets on the blockchain.



GrailersDAO is a community focused on supporting and collecting high end blockchain based Art, aiming to support generative artists and the broader art ecosystem. Artist members include but are not limited to Stefano Contiero, Tyler Hobbs, 0x113, Kim Asendorf, Rudxane, Eric De Giuli, Zach Lieberman, Rich Poole, Iskra Velitchkova, Emily Xie, Steve Pikelny.
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Singular is a platform that aims to support conceptually, technically, and/or culturally-compelling works on Bitcoin through bespoke curation and technical solutions. Singular is one of the only Bitcoin-based platforms to handle a work’s full lifecycle, from concept design and curation, to technical implementation, to primary market release, and post-release support.
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