Kazuhiro Tanimoto  

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2022/On-Chain Generative Art NFT

Released in July 8, 2022
12:00 ET(GMT-4) Sold out


This work is the product of a project to dwell undeletable souls on the blockchain. A system that generates human faces with different personalities and expressions from a minimum of code. After determining the personality from a hash, the face continues to change into various expressions. It is a living portrait, a fragment of minter's soul, forever adrift in the vast net.

    GHOST IN THE CODE on Art Blocks  Released in July 8, 2022 12:00 ET(GMT-4)

    The primary sales are sold out! Now available through OpenSea's secondary sales if it listed.
    GHOST IN THE CODE on OpenSea  

    Trailer   #1   #2

    Questions by Art Blocks and Answers by Kazuhiro Tanimoto of " GHOST IN THE CODE"  

In the Art Blocks, the program code that generates the art itself is stored on the blockchain, and each time this single code is executed, different art is generated. This is quite different from conventional platforms, which store image and video data produced using advanced specialized software on servers and store the certificates on the blockchain.

Ideological Background

Living organisms are coded by a sequence of the four bases in DNA, and a human DNA is composed of 3 billion base pairs. This is about 750 MB of information. And the difference in code between individual people is only 0.1%, or 750 KB. This slight difference creates all kinds of differences in appearance and physical functions. This is quite astonishing to our ordinary senses.

However, if we are surprised by this fact, we need to suspect our senses.

I was interested in these points and explored what are the elements by which people identify the faces and facial expressions of others, how little code can create personality and emotion, and conversely, to what extent can an observer identify personality and facial expressions. As a result, I succeeded in expressing the personalities, emotions, and complex feelings of various people with 14 KB of code.

We like to think of humans are supernatural and one-of-a-kind. This is a common background to the past, when many people favored the Ptolemaic theory.

However, this work leads us to suspect that we humans are only a program that can be coded.

Then, what is the essential difference between a code written in DNA and a code written in programming language? I believe the only difference is whether the execution space is real or digital space. Is it a prerequisite for the existence of the soul to operate an organic computer in real space? It is merely a medium.

This is not meant to be pessimistic, such as we are mere code, the soul does not exist and is an illusion, a mere electrical signal in the brain.

Rather, the soul, the function that makes us aware of our existence, makes us think, causes us to emotion, and makes us act, certainly dwells in the code.


When I realized what Art Blocks were doing, I was extremely excited. Then I thought about the significance of storing the code on the blockchain, and the idea of encapsulating the soul expressed by the code on the blockchain immediately came to mind.

I work in science and engineering and believe that humans are wonderful creatures, however the soul is not supernatural, but a function described in DNA, the human program code. In other words, I believe the soul is in the code. Moreover, to store code containing fragments of souls on the blockchain, and for that code to be executed by minting, was felt to be to set adrift an undeletable ghost on the vast net. If we can put this idea on the emerging technologies of blockchain and NFT, this act would be significant.

Over the next six months, I became obsessed with the idea and worked on the project.

I chose a human face and expression as the output of the soul. This is because I think that the diversity of the human face and the complexity of its expressions represent a part of the soul. For a while, I have immersed myself in how the diversity and expression of the human face is manifested and how to describe it in code. This was a process that went back and forth between literature review, actual observation and coding. At all hours of the day, I continued to think about how the individuality and expression of the human face manifests itself.

As a result, the output has a variety of personalities and exhibits complex expressions of emotion, not just simple joy, anger, sorrow, or pleasure. Sometimes I am surprised by the output of faces that resemble people I know or have seen on TV.

I also wanted the output to look like a painting, as opposed to the image of what you would get from a code. Therefore, much consideration was given to the background and drawing expressions. This resulted in a lot of variations for other than the face.

Also, during the middle of the project, I wanted to do the work, which was initially a still image, into a living portrait whose facial expressions kept changing in real time. Although it is possible to create such video data using specialized software, the technical hurdles were high to obtain satisfactory outputs in a program that is executed and rendered each time. However, this was accomplished, allowing the work to maximize the benefits of on-chain generative art, which is interactive to user operation and changes endlessly into a myriad of expressions. This is an experience that is not possible with the conventional NFT, which is a dozen-second looping video data that is limited in terms of data capacity and plays a completed video.

In this work, the ghost is output on the net by minting.
This act is part of the work.
The personality of the ghost is also determined by the hash owned by the minter.
In other words, the ghost output by you from the code on the blockchain is a fragment of your soul on the net.

I hope you will try this new experience with blockchain.

    GHOST IN THE CODE on Art Blocks

    GHOST IN THE CODE on Art Blocks

(c) Kazuhiro Tanimoto