Please or Register to create posts and topics.

Chromie Squiggle #9290

Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted:  March 30, 2022

Artist Description: Simple and easily identifiable, each squiggle embodies the soul of the Art Blocks platform. Consider each my personal signature as an artist, developer, and tinkerer. Public minting of the Chromie Squiggle is permanently paused. They are now reserved for manual distribution to collectors and community members over a longer period of time. Please visit OpenSea to explore Squiggles available on the secondary market.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Ah, now here’s something really special. The kind of item many would point to as the unquestioned Grail of their collection, Chromie Squiggles, of which there are currently 9674 minted out of a potential 10,000, are the brainchild of generative artist and Artblocks’ founder Snowfro (Erick Calderon). Just the words —whispered ASMR-like into your earlobe by a pair of luscious, just-fuzzy lips “Chromie squigglesssss”— are enough to send shivers down the back of crypto art journeymen and squires alike. Chromie Squiggles, the first generative project on Artblocks, which many point to as the progenitor of generative art platforms and the long-form generative art movement in general (more on that later), has a cross-cultural reputation for imparting clout generally reserved for PFP projects and 1/1 artistry (I know no other examples of generative art bestowing such immediate status upon their holders other than a Cherniak Ringer or Hobbs Fidenza). To own a Chromie Squiggle is to communicate one’s OG status, or else their wealth, or else their fine taste; indeed, Squiggle facsimiles show up as individual traits in other collections like MoonBirds and Cyberbrokers, their legend by now assured, their status as a dog-whistle for those “in the know” or “with it” in the crypto art world a longstanding tradition. Of the Squiggles, Snowfro says, “Simple and easily identifiable, each squiggle embodies the soul of the Art Blocks platform. Consider each my personal signature as an artist, developer, and tinkerer.” For that reason, Squiggles are more about what they represent than what they are, and thus we can draw spiritual lines between them and, say, CryptoPunks, also somewhat simplistic in actual aesthetic design but incredibly potent as symbols, or motifs, or indicators of a holder’s character (correctly or incorrectly). Minting of Squiggles has long since ceased, and now Snowfro manually mints new versions, handing them out to individuals or institutions who are important to him (*blushes*). I want to briefly go over the aesthetics not only of the piece in MOCA’s collection, Chromie Squiggle #9290, but also trace a bit about why, in my opinion, the Squiggles have endured as a symbol of crypto art’s greatest possibilities, and how, unlike many of the other symbols to emerge over the years, Squiggles have remained morally, culturally, and economically unsullied. There’s a masterclass here in something, and I’m going to try and find out what it is. 

Chromie Squiggles are, in terms of nomenclature, pretty close to what they purport to describe. Each is a squiggly line that descends and ascends across an empty plane, snaking itself into small peaks and valleys, usually in the range of four to seven times, and traveling across the width of the white frame which contain them. They are, in broad terms, color studies, with each Squiggle containing a sequence of rainbow’s colors within their bodies. The aesthetic mechanism by which that is achieved changes depending on the type of Squiggle minted. Squiggle #9290 is of the most common variety, possessing the most common color combination (this one known as “Standard” as opposed to others, like the slightly rarer “Slinky” which is somewhat transparent and has a ribbed body, or the significantly-rarer and black-outlined “Pipe”) a standard height and length, though perhaps a less common so-called “color spread,” which correlates to the gradient of individual hues present in the rainbow body of each Squiggle. Although relatively unpublicized, there are interactive features within the Chromie Squiggles smart contract that allow one to change the background color from white to black and back, animate the colors so that they move through each Squiggle like liquid through a tube, and also increase the speed at which those colors move. With these tools, you can create a positively-epileptic Squiggle or one that barely seems to be moving at all.

Part of each Squiggles’ lore is that they are minted directly onto the Ethereum blockchain instead of being files stored via IPFS that the blockchain merely redirects to; the website mentions that “Chromie Squiggles exist entirely on the blockchain. They aren't a pointer to a file on IPFS. It's an actual script built into the smart contract that executes the moment the mint transaction goes through.” Perhaps this is one of the underlying reasons why Squiggles have maintained their cultural relevance. There is a generally-deep and widespread admiration for fully on-chain projects. Not only is doing so more expensive and time-consuming than other avenues of generating NFTs, but in a landscape more and more cluttered everyday by art and collectibles that do not take a critical or creative look at the underlying technology they’re built on, truly on-chain projects are increasingly rare. The ingrained declaration of values inherent in Squiggles’ creation and storage make it endlessly appealing to OGs and historical collectors, similar to the way Cryptopunks’ original free mint represented, for many, the greatest ideals of the crypto ecosystem. 

The anonymous writer of also provides an interesting analysis of Squiggles’ artistic value, saying, “Look through the Squiggles collection long enough, and you develop strong preferences for one over the other…Squiggles make us choose, differentiate. We are drawn to certain shapes and patterns.” It’s an insightful observation, but also quite illuminating. In this way, Squiggles contain a quality shared by many PFP projects of influence, in that individual tastes turn into cultural preferences which then create long-lasting value. 

Squiggles also represent, in the words of digital art pioneer Anne Spalter —who I interviewed recently— one of the first examples (maybe even the first) of “Long-form Generative artworks.” Spalter was saying how, before the blockchain and before Artblocks, really before Squiggles reset the paradigm, that generative artists required of their algorithms only a handful of perfect outputs; Squiggles was a large-scale success in creating countless aesthetically-over-threshold artworks, and a momentous achievement because of it. It has objective historical significance for that reason. 

Before we part, I want to return to the idea of Squiggles forcing us to find preferences within artworks that are intentionally sans preference. There are always going to be, within projects that indulge in this sort of thing, people who glom onto whichever traits or facets are rarer than others. As a sign of status for holders, usually, but that’s besides the point. As the Artblocks platform evolved, specifically rarer traits within projects became less and less frequent, and the idea of unsolicited preferences became the de facto guidestone for generative projects. Outside of the PFP meta, it’s much rarer for generative art projects to usher holders or minters into certain preconceptions of value. The enrichment provided is in the community itself deciding on value through momentary, interpersonal, subconscious, and psychological means. This is not only wholly more interesting than the creator dictating the soft characteristics of their art, but it allows each such project to reflect with startling aptitude the individual attitudes of the cultural moment. And those attitudes are subject to change depending on changing momentary values. Within Squiggles is history itself, recorded tacitly within its context. We can write a history of crypto art itself, from November 27th of 2020 onward, in terms of who holds Squiggles, the frequency at which they were minted/purchased, for how much and by whom and when. 

You are not allowed to do this. Please login and connect your wallet to your account.