IOHK, a leading blockchain research and development company, and Kuva, an award-winning digital art and experience design studio, have launched Symphony of Blockchains, a series of live and interactive artistic visualizations of the blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
The first visualization, which lets viewers explore the intricacies of the Bitcoin blockchain structure through sound and image, is now available for public viewing on the IOHK website.
“If we could have outlined our dream project, this would be it — an exciting brief with no real creative restrictions, unlimited technical possibilities, and the added challenge of getting our heads around the vast mountain of information on the blockchain and how it works,” Kuva creative partner Mark Lundin said.
“With the assistance of the IOHK team, we were able to gain a deeper understanding of blockchain to develop our first artistic representation, which unpacks the rich history and complex nature of Bitcoin. We hope that through this work we can help everyone visualize and understand how truly spectacular this technology is.
“The best part is that it’s only the beginning and we will continue to work with IOHK to unveil further blockchain visuals that capture the unique essence of this complex technology.”
Blockchain is the technology underpinning bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, like Cardano and Ethereum Classic. It is a distributed and immutable ledger that is publicly accessible and highly reliable. The Symphony of Blockchains online representation lets viewers click their way through “blocks”, the packets of data stored chronologically on the Bitcoin blockchain. Kuva’s artistic representation includes sound design and uses generative music and sound synthesis. The music is less composition-based and more about the timbral qualities of the sound to create an experience that has a greater impact on viewers.
The design’s online user interface overlay enables viewers to understand and immerse themselves in blockchain data being collected in real time by interacting with the design. For example, by clicking on different blocks, viewers better understand the kilowatts of energy required to power the blockchain on a particular day through the intensity of music.
“This visualization allows you to view a real working blockchain in 3D,” IOHK design director Richard Wild said. “We are now moving into an era of third-generation blockchains and we need new tools to help depict that. This early prototype in our long-term project expresses these complex systems in an easy to grasp way and we hope that our future works will enable you to compare blockchains with each other and learn more about how they work in a visual way.”
The first step in developing the Bitcoin visualization involved exploring the data and finding a visual element that could combine individual pieces without altering their integrity. Crystals were used as a model for the visualization, as their multi-faceted appearance provided numerous ways to communicate underlying properties of data such as health, weight, and stability. The Merkle tree, or a tree constructed by hashing paired data, was also used for inspiration as it provided a unique base structure for building out the design.
Following the launch, Kuva will create an interactive graph from the data, allowing users to navigate through the Bitcoin blockchain from its inception to its current date. The artistic visualizations from Symphony of Blockchains will also be made into physical sculptures and interactive virtual reality (VR) experiences later this year.
“IOHK has a commitment to both education and design and this captivating and complex data visualization is the perfect combination of both,” IOHK CEO Charles Hoskinson said. “It’s beautiful as much as it is functional and our hope is that it will help make blockchain truly understandable for a whole new audience.”
Cardano, one of the top five cryptocurrencies by market capitalization developed by IOHK, will be the next artistic visualization to be released in Q2 2018.