‘Sand’ is a word with benign connotations – commonly used to describe beaches, deserts, or other landscapes. Each particle of sand is a granular fragment of eroded rock accumulated over thousands or millions of years to form some of the most amazing geological settings in the world.
Varying dramatically in color, texture, and mineral composition, sand is, in fact, anything but benign, and is one of Earth’s finest mediums for creating nature’s own works of art. It is also the single word that inspired Solace – one of the most mystifying artworks ever to grace the fxhash platform and generative art world.
You see, the word ‘sand’ happened to be the day 15 prompt for Genuary 2022, a month-long collaborative art series that takes place every January. During the Genuary festivities, a daily prompt is created by a prominent generative artist to promote the gen art movement and get more artists involved.
This ‘sand’ prompt is what led to Solace being born, though the fxhash community would wait nearly three additional weeks before being treated to its release on February 3, 2022.
Lunarean’s original idea was to create a single dune from thousands of tiny dots, simulating sand through a stippled effect. The outcome (above) and the community response were amazing, sparking Lunarean’s desire to expand this single dune into the masterful collection we have today.
Solace was initially planned as a small collection of 24 to 32, a size consistent with Lunarean’s genesis fxhash release, City in the Wind (which is also extraordinary). After working with the Solace algorithm for several days, Lunarean expanded the features to produce outputs supporting multiple dunes. Given the influx in possible variations, the collection was expanded to 240 iterations; thank goodness!
There are 10 viewable features for each piece. I say 'viewable’ because there is a slew of other random features hidden within the code that provide even more uniqueness and variety of outputs (e.g. dune steepness, shadow locations, etc.). However, there are a couple of features that really sing and make the piece special for me: the sky and the brushstroke. These two features, in my mind, are the magic that binds Solace together. The other features are perfect accents that add character, rarity, and diversity, but the sky and brushstroke really bring the piece to life.
The differing skies provoke strong and varying emotions. The whimsical streaks of the timelapse and beam skies summon a rush of energy as if you were standing at the top of a dune peak, facing the deafening desert winds. In another scene, you’re transported to a state of tranquility as you lay in the sand admiring the serenely starry skylines. As you can tell, the sky drives the attitude and mood of each piece.
Brushstrokes play a different role. The brushstroke provides a deepness to the immense detail of the project and displays a monochromatic stippling like a soft ink application of small dots or specks – a technique derived from pointillist masters such as Georges Seurat. Amongst the brushstroke types employed by Lunarean, the majority of Solace outputs use the ‘sand’ stroke, which is fitting as the most visually aligned with actual sand. This stroke is incredibly realistic; you can almost feel the grains of sand between your fingers!
Grainy is the rarest stroke and provides a less dense and somewhat darker stippled effect, poignantly accenting each affected pixel to show just how complex the sketch is by accenting the grittiness of the desert-scape. Lastly, and my favorite brushstroke of all, is the ‘soft’ stroke. The ‘soft’ stroke transforms the piece into a relic from ancient times. The level of detail revealed by the ‘soft’ stroke is unreal — if you stare long enough, each output using this stroke makes you feel like you’ve entered a hazy and wondrous dream world.
I know I am not alone when I say that I have truly found solace in Solace. I have carefully combed through the entire collection multiple times picking out my favorites and making a wishlist of mystical sand dunes to own should I ever come across a suitcase full of tez. Amongst the grails I’ve found are the solitary ‘underworld’ palette of Solace #187, which packs in a spectacular 120 dune count, and the deceptively simple genius of Solace #110.
Every Solace feels like a museum-grade art piece. There is not one bad, or even mediocre, output in the whole collection. This is extremely difficult to pull off in any art setting, but particularly in a random and generative one. As such, Solace is definitely one of, if not my outright, favorite projects on fxhash.
It’s also been an honor to discuss the project with Lunarean to obtain a greater understanding of what went into producing such a fantastic piece of work. Congratulations to Lunarean on this amazing achievement — I can’t wait to see what comes next!
To read more details about the features, technical aspects, and how the algorithm for Solace actually works, please check out the artist’s detailed write-up here.