Exclusive: Foundation Ventures Into GenArt Realm With Highlight

BY Arthur Parkhouse

November 20, 2023

The Web3 generative art space is about to become even more interesting, accessible, and equitable — as Foundation ventures into the sector through a partnership with Highlight, the first open-access platform for generative art on Ethereum.

This multilayered partnership, set to debut in early December, aims to empower artists and collectors alike with comprehensive tools, including versatile options for creating, selling, curating, and collecting.

In an exclusive conversation with Foundation’s CEO Kayvon Tehranian, we learned more about what this partnership means for the Web3 generative art space and gleaned some insights into its debut release with works from artists William Stallwood and Ordinary Willard, as produced by Foundation’s curatorial brand, Forever Projects.

The Partnership

“Our partnership with Highlight marks a significant turning point in the generative art space,” said Tehranian, adding, ” We’re not just looking at a simple collaboration; this is the genesis of a robust art ecosystem that fundamentally transforms how creators and curators interact and flourish.”

He explained that the focus is on adding a richer, more dynamic layer of curation to the digital art space, elevating the experience for both creators and audiences in a way that the art can be felt and appreciated on a new level.

“By joining forces, we’re providing artists and curators with an expanded array of choices, empowering them to push the boundaries of creativity and innovation,” he expressed.

One of the primary issues the partnership stands to address is that of limited release options or challenges that generative artists face, namely in that they generally have to sacrifice a large amount of control to an established platform to promote their release or go at it completely alone and hope for the best.

“Presently, the curation and release process is predominantly governed by a select few platforms. While they’ve made significant contributions to the field, their approach often involves rigid schedules, curation boards, and limited release opportunities, offering little flexibility for artists,” Tehranian explained.

“This one-size-fits-all model can be limiting for artists who seek more creative control and personalization in how their work is conceived, presented, and shared.”

Kayvon Tehranian

He further shared that those who opt to manage everything on their own, from storytelling to curation and marketing, tend to face a different set of challenges. While they maintain control, they pile on a significant workload that distracts from the creative processes in which they thrive.

As for Foundation and Highlight, they hope to create a fundamental shift in this dynamic, particularly through utilizing the Worlds ecosystem to empower artists to collaborate directly with curators and foster an organic, relationship-driven collaboration.

Looking at a broader horizon, the two hope that the partnership will further Foundation’s core mission of decentralizing curation.

Tehranian shared, “We’re designing Worlds to be composable across the web3 ecosystem. This composability is more than just a technical feature; it represents a paradigm shift in how curation is conceptualized and executed. Our goal is to make curation as expansive and wide-reaching as possible.”

At large, the goal is to shift the power from the few to the many, dismantling any regressive implementations of gatekeeping that go against the ethos of Web3 and instead empowering the diverse voices and perspectives of the broader community.

GenArt Expansion

While art created using generated methods has of course always been welcomed on Foundation, its partnership with Highlight marks a first, deliberate step into a genre of art that the platform regards as arguably the most native form of digital art there is.

However, up until this point, the platform had not offered direct support for onchain generative minting — something it can now provide through its partnership with Highlight, a company that has built its generative art tooling from first principles, allowing Foundation to enter the sector with strong support.

“Generative art isn’t just a trend; it’s a profound expression of the intersection between art and technology.”

Kayvon Tehranian

Tehranian added, “It’s deeply embedded in the history and evolution of digital creativity, offering us a medium that is dynamic, interactive, and inherently tied to the digital realm.”

As a second part of this, the initiative goes beyond artist support and also looks to provide curators with access to a broad spectrum of artistic expression so that they can bring their storytelling and visions to life.

“Our expansion into generative art is a strategic and culturally conscious move. It aligns with our commitment to fostering a vibrant, diverse, and technologically advanced art ecosystem, where curators and artists alike can push the boundaries of what’s possible,” Tehranian shared.

Creative Independence

From a technical standpoint, the partnership aims to provide artists with creative independence, specifically through dynamic data inputs, curated outputs, and ownership of the smart contracts they create.

Explaining what this looks like in practice, Tehranian said that artists will be able to create work on Highlight leveraging their innovative suite of tools. This includes leveraging Highlight’s Open-Access Platform, which allows for freedom in the creative process by removing the constraints of curation boards or strict technical requirements.

Another key point is the approach of artist-owned contracts, ensuring that artists will release their work on their own smart contracts, granting them full control and ownership. Not only does this add to provenance but it also allows artists to maintain independence and the integrity of their work.

Taking things a step further, artists can integrate dynamic data inputs, meaning they’ll have the ability to incorporate diverse blockchain data beyond the transactional hash into their artwork, opening new opportunities for creative exploration.

“Artists are empowered to experiment and express themselves fully, breaking new ground in generative art.”

Kayvon Tehranian

Once an artist has finished their projects via Highlight, they can then be imported into a Foundation World by a curator. This is made possible thanks to Worlds’ open-access ecosystem approach, allowing any curator to create a space to which they can add their perspective to and ultimately contribute to the digital art ecosystem. In addition to expression, these curators also gain ownership, as Worlds now exist on their own smart contracts.

The First Drop

While some details are still under wraps, Foundation did share a few insights into its upcoming debut release and utilization of the integration set to arrive in early December.

Notably, the first release will be produced by the platform’s curatorial brand, Forever Projects, and feature generative art projects from artists William Stallwood and Ordinary Willard.

While drop-specific artwork has yet to be revealed, Foundation has shared that the drop will utilize the rebate Dutch auction model, explaining that it stands to benefit both collectors and artists alike.

“The choice of the rebate Dutch auction model for our upcoming debut release was a strategic one, driven by its unique ability to create a dynamic and engaging market environment for both artists and collectors,” said Tehranian.

From an artist’s perspective, the model offers an exciting way to release work, transforming the release into an event and in turn, building anticipation. Additionally and perhaps more importantly, a rebate Dutch auction enables artists to discover the true market demand for their work in real-time — providing invaluable immediate feedback.

Tehranian shared, “It empowers artists to understand and leverage market dynamics to their advantage, making their art more accessible while also ensuring fair compensation.”

As for collectors, the model adds an element of fun and excitement, making the collecting process all the more memorable. Technically, the mechanism is designed to ensure collectors can acquire work at a true market price, democratizing the purchasing process and allowing collectors with varying budgets to participate.

The reason the rebate Dutch auction method makes the most sense here is that its underlying aspects of democratization and accessibility align perfectly with the broader mission Foundation and Highlight have set out on — as they expand Worlds’ ecosystem to the generative art realm.

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