NFT Labs Talk x Async.Art: How The Programmable NFT Platform Reforms NFTs’ Real-world Utilities?

NFT Labs
7 min readDec 17, 2021

— NFT Labs’ Interview x Async Art Founder Conlan Rios

First Supper

First Supper is a historical piece in NFT art history, which consists of 13 crypto artists in one piece. They are Alotta Money, Blackboxdotart, Coldie, Connie, Hackatao, Josie Bellini, mlibty, Rutger van der Tas, shortcut, Sparrow, TwistedVacancy, XCOPY and VansDesign, who gather together to celebrate a new dawn for collaboration, creativity, and interaction between artist, collector, and art-lover alike.

This is a piece of significant importance, because it is comprised of 22 different layers which are contributed by 13 generative artists. Every piece that you see is a layer the owner can alter. If you are the owner of 1 layer like Tape Snake, you can adjust the color version of your layer and the master layer will change afterwards.

10 of 22 layers

The technology of artwork makes programmable art possible. Your art piece will never remain still, it’s alive. Meanwhile, an art piece will never be owned by a single collector, tokenization makes sole ownership decentralized. It’s an advancement of art history after the birth of Da Vici’s The Last Supper 600 years later. If The Last Supper is the western world’s most recognizable work, will The First Supper be influential in the NFT world?

Who brought programmable NFT/Art to the crypto world?

Today we are having a chat with Conlan Rios, who founded the platform of Async Art in 2020, which is the first platform and currently the only platform to offer Programmable NFTs. We are going to get some insights from him and have him elaborate on the Programmable Art dream.

NFT Labs: Can you briefly introduce Async.Art and yourself?

Async.Art

Async.Art is a creation platform for making dynamic and interactive NFTs. We’ve pioneered “programmable art” — art and music that can change based on real world events and data or by communities of collectors who co-own aspects of a work.

This is made possible by Layers. On Async, creators can distribute their work into Layers and tokenize them individually for ownership and control. Artists imbue those Layers with abilities that the owner can execute at any time, abilities such as state, position, rotation, or scale change.

I’m the Founder and CEO of Async Art. I got my start initially as a DeFi developer and eventually into NFTs through a DApp called Cryptovoxels. Cryptovoxels is an online, web-based world and I began leasing virtual gallery space to NFT artists in 2019.

NFT Labs: What’s your consideration of entering the NFT field and establishing Async.Art? Could you share some interesting stories to us?

Near the end of 2019 I wanted to create some art of my own, but while I had collected hundreds of NFTs, I felt that most if not all didn’t fully utilize their digital medium. I’m a game developer, so I started with a concept where the viewer (essentially the “player”) could own an aspect of the digital painting and co-create with the artist.

This is where the concept of a Layered work came into play. I eventually decided to make a platform for other artists to come in and use this tool, as I myself am not an artist :)

The initial, genesis piece on the platform was called “First Supper” and it was a collaboration between 13 of some of the top crypto artists at the time. The artists came together and contributed one or more Layers and it was the largest crypto art collaboration at the time. The Master and Layers collectively sold for over $80k USD which was a record in early 2020.

NFT Labs: Can you tell us about what Async.Art has achieved so far?

Async Art regularly powers the largest crypto art collaborations in the space:

Async Art also has a series of “First” in the NFT space:

Async.Art has the most extensive display options, including a hardware partnership with Netgear’s Meural, a chrome-based browser plugin, and a native Apple TV app:

NFT Labs: If owners can alter the layers’ parameters, can we call it the SMART NFT? It reminds me of 3D character settings. Are they the same? It would be great if you could share more about the mechanism.

We refer to these as “programmable art” or “interactive NFTs”. One thing to note is that Layer owners can only alter the overall Master within settings provided to them by the artist. So if the artist provides only 2 states of a Layer, the owner can only choose between those 2 states. Or if the artist provides a minimum and maximum X value, the owner can only move that Layer between those two values. In this sense, the owner of a Layer “becomes” part of the work themselves as opposed to contributing whatever they want to it.

NFT Labs: People pays lot attention on NFT in png and jpg format, but Async.Music brings music programming into the asset class of the NFT world. What triggered this? How will this help and push the music monetization?

In April 2021, we launched Async Music which allows musicians to now tokenize their songs into Masters and Layers. We did this because musicians already think about music in Layers conceptually and we wanted to introduce a new creator class to NFTs.

With Async Music we also introduced the concept of a blank record token. These are fungible (ERC1155) and can be “burned” to record the current, live state of an Async Music track. By offering this token, we’ve broadened the audience for who can participate in a work beyond just the Master and Layer owners. Blank records come in three scarcity levels (Platinum, Gold, Silver).

NFT Labs: Can you introduce one of your favorite NFT from Async.Art? Why?

I have many favorites! Here are a few:

DOOM Party — One of XCOPY’s COVID themed pieces from 2020, this piece introduced the concept of asymmetrical Layer powers. Nine different but equal Participant Layers control the video call but a super Layer titled, “Death’s Hand”, can cover up and obscure a single Participant, effecting “dooming” them.

Doom Party

The Tribe — This was an early piece by Pak, comprising 29 different Layers. Each Layer affects a shape or color, varying in how drastically they alter the overall look. The work is ever changing as its collector community regularly balances out the visual aesthetic as even a single off-color will cause a cascading effect of changes.

The Tribe

FORM FARM — The artist, Untitled XYZ, uses this piece as a DAO to govern which new 3D FORMS he creates each month. There’s a user manual with more info here.

Form Farm

NFT Labs: Async.Art completed 2 million financing at seeding round. What are your competitors? Will programmable NFT be the paradigm shift in the future?

Async currently has no direct competitors but every platform does compete for artist mindshare and collector attention. We believe that programmable, interactive NFTs are where the market is heading as artists become more fluent with the technology and collectors begin expecting more of their acquired pieces.

NFT Labs: How will you merge programmable art & music NFT to Metaverse? And what’s the future of the NFT market in the next three years?

New experiences and communities will continue to emerge on the smaller blockchains. Async has the goal to be blockchain agnostic in the soon future, we continue to work on integrating lighter chains.

NFT Labs: What’s the future roadmap for Async.Art?

We’ll continue to broaden out the accessibility of our NFT creation tools, bringing it to all global creators, we believe that will add diversity to the NFT art space and elevate the quality of them. We will also continue to add the available platforms for displaying them (TV, mobile, and more).

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