The revolution may be randomised: new Damien Hirst project lets buyers generate their own ‘Spin’ NFTs

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The (art) revolution may be randomised. The British mega-artist Damien Hirst has launched a new tech-heavy take on his splashy three-decades-old Spin Paintings.

It is called The Beautiful Paintings and allows collectors to use an app dashboard—developed with the art services and technology business Heni—to order a non-fungible token (NFT), minted on the Ethereum blockchain, make it round or square and have it printed out or not, in one of four sizes. All without a hint of the spinning turntable or splash of paint that characterised Hirst’s Spin collaborations with the musician David Bowie—in the shape of Beautiful, hallo, space-boy painting (1995)—and others. The “drop”, during which buyers will be able to generate and buy the NFTs, runs until 10 April.

A project statement describes The Beautiful Paintings as “a radical move to expand the limits of digital and physical art creation”.

Buyers can use the “Spin Generator” on the Beautiful Paintings dashboard to choose from a menu of styles and colours. The sample colour names were conjured up using machine learning—the organisational, categorising tech that also underlies artificial intelligence—which generated the terms Himalayan Waters, Cracked Grass, Interdimensional Cloud, Dolphin’s Whiskers, Tangerine Pine and others. The spin painting styles on offer, 25 in all, include some names reminiscent of climactic phenomena—Vapors, Whirlwinds, Bursting Rivers and Cyclones—or outer space—Comets, Star Clusters and Nebulas. On both the “Colors” and “Spin Style” panels on the app, there is a “Randomise” button.

Installation view of printed examples of The Beautiful Paintings, Damien Hirst, 2023 Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

The randomising function was included to replicate the fugitive, unpredictable nature of Hirst’s Spin paintings and to make sure than no two dashboard-generated NFTs will be the same. The final bit of randomising is the “playfully long and descriptive” naming of the finished work, using more machine learning, this time sitting on a neural network (something wired to imitate the working of a human or animal brain). Each randomly generated name will start with the word “Beautiful” and end with the word “Painting”.

“The model allows for a never-ending variety of new and unseen titles,” according to the project press statement, “that follow the format of [Hirst’s] existing Spin Paintings.”

Four examples of The Beautiful Paintings NFTs, Damien Hirst, 2023 Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

The NFTS are priced at $2,000 apiece and the print-outs (signed by Hirst)—made after using an algorithm to enlarge the digital file to an ultra-high resolution—range from $1,500 to $6,000. A selection of printed works are on show at the Heni Gallery in London’s Soho until 10 April.

“I have called the series ‘The Beautiful Paintings’ for obvious reasons,” Hirst announced on Twitter.

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