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Pace Verso

A.A. Murakami’s Floating World Genesis NFT Series, Explained

Published Wednesday, Sep 7, 2022

The Tokyo and London-based duo A.A. Murakami, established in 2011 by architect Azusa Murakami and artist Alexander Groves, is known for creating immersive, sensorial installations as part of a long-standing exploration of natural phenomena and systems. The seminal work New Spring (2017) — an interactive, multi-sensory installation producing mist-filled blossoms — exemplifies the artists’ pioneering experimentations with what they have termed “ephemeral tech,” technology that is experienced not through standard interfaces like screens, but through ethereal and shifting matter, facilitating fleeting but deeply meaningful in-person experiences. In light of the activity surrounding the upcoming Merge, Art Blocks and Pace Verso are moving the release of A.A. Murakami’s Floating World to another date and time, to be announced. More information coming soon.

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Floating World Genesis Conceptual Summary

The first component of Floating World, a multidisciplinary project by A.A. Murakami, Floating World Genesis comprises 250 unique NFTs, each depicting one of three different animated scenes featuring bubbles, an enduring source of interest for the duo. Inspired by the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment, which simulated conditions of the early Earth to explore how life first formed in the primordial oceans through self-organizing bubbles, the Floating World Genesis NFTs possess tranquil, meditative, hypnotic qualities often associated with minimalist painting and the Light and Space movement.

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The Three Scenes of Floating World Genesis

Floating World Genesis NFTs can feature a single microbial bubble that may split in two (scene one); clusters of self-organizing bubbles that represent the growth of multicellular life (scene two); or a single bubble situated on the horizon, signifying the formation of the Earth’s biosphere (scene three). Scene one reflects the makeup of primordial non-living matter; scene two shows the evolution of a single-celled organism into multicellular organisms; and scene three features a bubble on the horizon of an oxygenated atmosphere with the Earth transformed by new life. Each of these scenes displays unique physics, colors, movements, and other generative effects, all of which are detailed in forthcoming sections of this explainer.

Scene One Technical Summary

NFTs depicting scene one yield two possible outcomes: a single bubble or a cell division that results in two bubbles. In the former, a single, undulating bubble is situated in the center of the screen. In the latter, one bubble slowly splits into two, with the bubbles oriented horizontally, vertically, forward diagonally, or back diagonally.

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Each bubble in scene one is a mesh composed of points in a virtual 3D space. These points are modulated by a vertex shader, code that is run on the computer’s graphics processing unit (GPU). Using continuous trigonometry functions sin( ) and cos( ), a gentle rippling effect is applied to the shapes of the bubbles.

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Scene Two Technical Summary

The network of bubbles in scene two of Floating World Genesis is developed through a three-stage process:

  • Like in scene one, each of the bubbles in scene two is a mesh composed of points in a virtual 3D space, and a vertex shader modulates each of the points in the mesh.
  • As with scene one, scene two uses continuous trigonometry functions sin( ) and cos( ) to apply a gentle, undulating warping to the shapes of the bubbles.
  • A bubble generation algorithm unique to scene two enables bubbles to grow and shrink in position, and it initiates a push and pull to create a network of motion.
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Scene Three Technical Summary

In scene three, the surface modulation technique from scenes one and two is used to create a rippling effect in the water beneath the large bubble on the horizon. Different sets of inputs to the surface modulation technique create motion in the water. In this case, the technique uses a generated Perlin Noise Texture — a gradient noise that produces realistic effects in computer graphics — and modulates the offset position over time. These values are then used to offset the vertices up and down from the original plane position, thus creating the illusion of rolling waves of water. The surface modulation technique is also applied to the bubble itself, but it has been altered in frequency and size to produce a more subtle silhouette that gives the illusion of a larger object.

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The bubble, which might be interpreted as the Sun or Moon, is reflected in the moving water beneath it. Variations in color tint, lightness and darkness, and wave height appear in the reflective water.

Compositional variations in the position of the bubble relative to the horizon line also occur in scene three. Most scenes will feature the bubble just above the water or higher in the sky. Other occurrences will situate the bubble centered in an exact even placement with the horizon, resulting in a spherical reflection known as a Perfect Mirror trait.

Bubble Design Technical Summary

Bubbles appear in one of three different design states based on the layering of various gradients:

  • Lucid: this style makes use of computed masks — black and white values that describe where and how much color should be applied on the object — to shade the bubble.
  • Mist/Aurora: this style uses the same technique on both its background and its bubble, but the bubble’s math is applied onto a sphere, unwrapped from left to right with four zones to which colors are randomly assigned, and the background is a flat plane.
  • Opaque: this style uses fewer masks than lucid to create a simpler look.
Bubble Color Technical Summary

All color calculations for the bubbles in Floating World Genesis are derived from a base hue that is randomly selected from the full spectrum. Overall saturation is picked from a limited range, from muted to vibrant, and overall brightness is picked from a limited range of dark to bright.

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Hue, saturation, and value (HSV) is considered the base tone for each bubble. The base hue is used as a starting point to arrange additional colors, which are calculated through color theory outputs and randomly selected. After selecting a color from the spectrum, it randomly chooses one of three approaches based on color theory:

  • Analogous: script selects an additional hue near the base hue.
  • Complementary: script selects hue directly opposite base hue.
  • Triadic: script selects one of two hues from the triangle of the base hue.

Variations in saturation, brightness and darkness, and daytime and nighttime lighting also occur.

Stereoscopic Trait in Floating World Genesis

Scenes one and three may exhibit a stereoscopic trait, which produces varying degrees of 3D effects and immerses viewers in a world of buoyant, ethereal bubbles. This trait reflects A.A. Murakami’s interest in what it has termed the “mataverse,” a space between the physical and digital worlds that further elaborates on the duo’s use of “ephemeral tech,” technology that is experienced not through standard interfaces like screens, but through ethereal and shifting matter.

The stereoscopic trait is produced through images of two different views of the bubble, which are filtered through chromatically opposite filters — typically red and cyan. The 3D effect is based on chance combinations of certain colors and forms. When viewed through 3D glasses, some stereoscopic NFTs give the impression of depth.

  • Pace Verso — A.A. Murakami’s Floating World Genesis NFT Series, Explained, Sep 7, 2022