Each block of transactions in the Ethereum blockchain is identified by a block number (called height) and a hash value, which is an hexadecimal number of length 64, corresponding to a binary number of length 256. All block numbers and hashes are unique and Ethereum delivers a new block every about 15 seconds. For instance, block number 6180082 has hash:


EtherCoil is a sketch reading in real-time these block hashes and using them to forge artworks shaped as colored intertwined coils. The sketch is deterministic: the same hash as input gives the same coiled design as output. Moreover, different hashes generate different coils (in shape and color). Therefore, there is a one-to-one mapping between hash codes and coil designs. A block hash is just a string of characters and EtherCoil represents it in a creative way.

EtherCoil converts the hexadecimal hash into a binary string and takes advantage of this string of bits to determine the shape and color of the coils, hence to generate a unique artwork encoding the hash (which in turns encodes an Ethereum block). Essentially, it uses the hash binary string as a generator of pseudo-random numbers to set the parameters of the artwork. EtherCoil exploits Perlin noise, a technique developed by Ken Perlin working for the movie Tron (1982), in order to introduce some harmonic randomness in the design. To obtain a deterministic behavior (the same input, the same output), the seed of the noise generator is fixed at each coil generation (the final artwork is made of 100 twisted coils). In particular, with an arbitrary choice, the sketch uses the first 100 Fibonacci numbers as noise seeds to generate a coil design.

For EtherCoil I took inspiration from the generative artworks of Matt Pearson, who taught me how to use programming as poetry. The original code is written in Processing and then translated in p5.js by HEX0x6C. I wrote this code for Art Blocks, a promising project to promote interactive generative artworks on the blockchain. I thank Erick Calderon for all his support and enthusiasm. Try it in VR.

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