Frequently Unresolved Asked Questions
Q: What is Quantrian?
A: Quantrian was an art algorithm: computer programming that generates visual art according to its parameters. I fed it truly random numbers from live quantum fluctuations measured in a laboratory vacuum, and the code used those numbers for the thousands of tiny decisions it made to produce images inspired by various favorite modern and abstract artists. Numbers went in, pictures came out. The same algorithm has generated all 100 images in the Collection.
Or maybe Quantrian is not the algorithm, but the output: the limited collection of images it produced.
Or maybe Quantrian is the curation, the aesthetic, the process of determining the pieces added to the collection.
Or maybe Quantrian is everything from the first line of code 20+ years ago to you reading this right now.
Q: Is Quantrian generative on the blockchain the same way some other NFTs are, like CryptoKitties or Fidenza?
A: No. The original Quantrian code predated cryptocurrency blockchains by several years, so the original collection of Quantrian images are minted as static images. They do not "live on the blockchain" as the cool kids say.
However, I am considering rewriting the code in a way that could live on the blockchain. It won't be quite the same: blockchain generative art should only use the psuedo-randomness of the hash strings and data generated at the moment of minting, rather than any external truly random number source (like a QNRG). Maybe the project will need a new name, then, since it won't be based on quantum randomness. I also think NFTs and crypto have to sort out a few ongoing issues, such as their impact on the environment.
Q: How did you curate?
A: Quantrian was an abstract art creation process using code written with a set of inspirations to produce a range of works that express a personal aesthetic, so the initial question for each image was clear: is it the type of image that I intended this process to create?
If yes, then as the artist I considered other questions:
- Is it interesting?
- Is it intriguing
- Is it curious?
- Is it beautiful?
- Does it have personality? What is it?
- Do I enjoy it?
- If this was the work of another artist, how would I feel about displaying it in my own collection?
- ...and more.
The answers to these questions determined whether a generated image was preserved in the limited Collection. If not, the image is allowed to vanish forever.
Q: What do you mean by truly random?
A: Here, we arrive at the intersection of science and philosophy.
Nothing is truly random. Things are merely sufficiently unpredictable: e.g. something feels random when we cannot fully predict all of the colliding factors and forces that cause events.
For example: if you toss a single marble toward the wall of a closed, empty room, you can probably predict where it will bounce and end up. If you toss two marbles at high velocity into that same room, can you predict where they will land? Maybe. Now toss a million marbles into that room, and remove gravity too. That level of complexity becomes unpredictable chaos to a human, but then again, a sufficiently capable computer could be programmed to accurately predict the trajectory and final coordinates of each marble, thanks to physics.
And so it is with random numbers on a computer. They are psuedo-random, or fake random. It's a pretty good illusion, but if someone was able to match your computer's precise setup, they could probably generate the same "random" numbers you did. Psuedo-random number generation has come a long way with the rise of cryptographically-secure methods, but it is still within the realm of possibility that the inputs could be known and the outputs could be duplicated.
Hence the use of quantum random number generators (QRNGs). It is beyond human knowledge to predict quantum events such as the tiny fluctuations of quantum energy in a sealed laboratory vacuum. We can measure them, but we cannot predict them.
So, Quantrian uses a type of QNRG to get its random numbers. It's the most unique method of ensuring absolutely one-of-a-kind results.