John Gerrard, Petro National (United States of America), 2022 © John Gerrard / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

Art Blocks x Pace Verso

John Gerrard

Petro National

Released Tuesday, Jun 21

NFT Details

John Gerrard
Petro National
Released Tuesday, Jun 21
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Exhibition Details

Pace Verso NFT Showcase
Jun 21 – 23, 2022
New York


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John Gerrard is pleased to present Petro National, a new NFT series comprising 196 unique, generative works.

Petro National addresses contemporary issues of oil consumption, and it is the first NFT project to be released as part of a new partnership between Pace Verso, the gallery’s Web3 hub, and Art Blocks, the leading generative art platform. Petro National will launch on June 21, 2022 at 10 a.m. EDT and be available for purchase on (opens in a new window)

The Petro National NFTs feature the outlines of different countries and regions, which are represented as glistening patches of gasoline on the world ocean. At its core, the project examines the global impact of burning 100 million barrels of oil per day and the ways that energy consumption has become a signifier of political power, explicitly addressing the disparity in oil consumption between the global north and south.

Engaging the potential of temporal and spatial media online through game engine technology, Gerrard has connected the world of WebGL with NFTs in this ground-breaking project. The artist has created a custom thin-film refraction algorithm, which reproduces the phenomenon of iridescence through the simulation of millions of rays of light broken down into a novel conceptual prismatic language.

Each Petro National NFT has been assigned varying degrees of thickness or thinness depending on a given per capita annual oil use of the country or region. Lower national consumption rates yield thinner, delicate oil spills in the NFTs, while higher consumption rates produce more intensely iridescent scenes. Light conditions in the NFTs, which run on the local times of the respective capital cities of the depicted countries and regions, change throughout the year in accordance with the seasons. Night and day are also experienced in the NFTs. On a spatial level, the NFTs can be viewed from various orientations on the screen by dragging on the scene. Each work features different atmospheric and wave activities as well as varied sea colors, all of which are produced as part of a randomized, generative process.

Gerrard will dedicate 25 percent of the artist’s proceeds from Petro National NFT sales to in Ireland to support their Wild Atlantic Rainforest Project which replants and regenerates broadleaf forests in Southern Ireland. Remaining artist’s proceeds will be dedicated to Asociación Campo Adentro to support their Shepherd School project in Spain.

Petro National aligns with Gerrard’s longstanding investigations of current environmental and geo-political conditions. A pioneer in generative art, Gerrard has devoted over 20 years of his practice to developing game engine technology for his public-facing simulations, which, like the Petro National NFTs, exist as virtual worlds unto themselves. The artist has exhibited his work at the 2022 Biennale of Sydney, the 2021 Gwangju Biennale and Thailand Biennial, the 2019 Okayama Art Summit in Japan, and other international venues. Among his past projects is Western Flag (NFT), which was the first NFT to be produced by an artist within Pace’s program.

John Gerrard says:

“Discovering Art Blocks allowed me to understand that the NFT can be much more than a media file—rather, it is a complex, data driven, on-chain world that aligns with my historic works in game engines. Making WebGL works in this setting radically expands the exhibition and distribution possibilities of my art. The work can be addressed culturally from anywhere in the world, and it uses this radical new platform to ask questions about contemporary energetic, social, and political conditions and inequalities.”

Art Blocks Founder Erick Calderon says:

“Art Blocks started as a nerdy and fairly esoteric hobby, a culmination of ideas that had been brewing in my mind for a decade or more. Only a year ago, it would have been beyond the edges of my imagination to think that we would be announcing a collaboration with Pace, a top-tier gallery with an incredible roster of artists, many of whom have been meaningfully inspirational in my life. One of the artists, John Gerrard, will be leading the way with a project called Petro National that literally gave me goose bumps when I first experienced it. As a platform, everything we do is in service of moving the practice of generative art forward. This is a transformative moment for everyone in the Art Blocks ecosystem, and I couldn’t be prouder.”

Selections from the Petro National release will be on view at Pace’s 540 West 25th Street gallery in New York as part of an in-person exhibition presented during the 2022 edition of NFT.NYC. For more information, visit (opens in a new window)


About the Artist

Breaching the divisions between portrait, landscape and history painting, generating moving images that no longer belong to ‘time-based media’, rethinking the monumentalism of land art in the age of Google Earth, and now exploring an expanded arena of choreography and performance, the innovative form of John Gerrard’s work keeps pace with the subtle complexity of its subject-matter. In the contemporary world, simulations are no longer just secondhand copies, but are increasingly both engine and autopilot of leisure, economy, politics and warfare. Gerrard’s work offers us portraits of this world through the prism of its own technological medium: using the very software that enables the operations of entertainment, industry and warfare.

Learn More

  • Pace Verso — John Gerrard: Petro National, Jun 7, 2022