If you’re old enough to remember or have ever heard about warehouse parties of the late 80s and 90s, you probably know about the rise of the modern-day VJ in nightclubs, raves, and art events. These were the cultural tastemakers of real-time visual performance art; their manipulation of imagery in sync with techno and acid house music was enabled by the technological invention. Dutch painter, punk rocker, and skateboarder Micha Klein was an early trendsetter of this movement in Amsterdam, where his talent for rhythmic editing and computer graphics propelled him to the forefront of his craft. Klein’s work has been widely acclaimed and exhibited in art galleries internationally, including a 10-year retrospective of digital art and video work at the Groninger Museum. That was nearly 25 years ago, so it’s no surprise that he continues to innovate, this time on the blockchain. Klein’s foray into NFT crypto art is a throwback to a computer animation he made popular before the turn of the century. His iconic character “Pillman,” that inspired Rapper Eminem to use Klein’s background projections on his Anger Management tour, is returning to the global stage. Designed by one of the early pioneers of digital 3D animation, Crypto-Pills is the latest and arguably the greatest generative fine art collection of our time.
“As an artist, it’s been really frustrating to see a lot of NFT art really just skate by, while quantity and demand control the market,” Margaret Cleary laments. “It is so enthralling to have an artist who is actually a fucking artist by trade and profession release something of this magnitude, so thank you,” she said.
Pillman is one of the first optical ray tracing animations, a technique that works by simulating actual light rays, using an algorithm to trace the path that a beam of light would take in the physical world. What makes each Crypto-Pill NFT unique is the artwork itself and the fact that this NFT project has been 30 years in the making (3 years before Pixar and Toy Story were introduced). More than two decades before Rare Pepes, Cryptopunks, and CryptoKitties, Klein’s personified capsule danced on stages with arms and legs and dilated pupils. “I was playing in the clubs from Ibiza to Miami, and everywhere,” Klein mused. “Pillman built quite a name for itself, this character,” he recalls. Pillman was relatable to partygoers everywhere Klein performed, largely due to MDMA culture, also called Ecstacy and later known as Molly.
“I love hip hop, and the rave scene in London, and all the acid and all the drugs, and that was all part of music,” Q the collector reminisces. “And the way that Micha is launching Crypto-Pills with the gallery at the same time, he’s mixing physical and digital. People in China and Hong Kong are really into Micha’s work, so I think this is the perfect project,” Q noted. Crypto-Pills is the first major NFT avatar collection to be launched in Hong Kong and Klein’s first major project in Asia. Start Art Gallery will leverage its physical venue to exhibit diverse NFT artworks from global artists; positioning itself as a new type of gallery aimed at building a “Chain Art” community. The gallery is committed to connecting leading NFT artists and collectors and creating new art with future growth potential. Start Art gallery will officially open in Hong Kong on September 5th, 2021.
The nostalgic Pillman has been remixed and reimagined in a myriad of forms as NFT collectibles, unlike anything we’ve ever seen. “I felt a digital renaissance going on, and I had to be in this space,” Klein insisted. “My Genesis drop is based on a huge variety of different Pillman characters and personalities,” he explains. Crypto-Pills are multi-gender, multi-colour avatars that are algorithmically generated from 37 categories and 504 traits. Each of 10,000 collectible tokens is a unique work of art that will be revealed at the time of minting. Having delivered projects for the likes of Disney and Coca-Cola, Klein’s vector artwork is remarkably detailed, with 3000×3000 pixel depth
resolution. To generate his collection, Micha created 500 illustrations by hand. Crypto-Pills are stored as ERC-721 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain and hosted on IPFS. Crypto-Pills costs 0.07Ξ, with no bonding curves, and fair distribution.
A Solidity Solution: Presale Distribution
The NFT artist community has become painfully aware that ETH-laden opportunists are violating the fair minting process at the contract level in clandestine collaboration with savvy code pirates. Solidity contract breaches aren’t considered theft in the literal sense—simply because each bundle of expropriated NFTs is nonetheless paid for. However, each inciting incident erodes project developers’ public trust and credibility, who some suspect are in cahoots. Cracking the contract code prevents hundreds of artists and collectors from ever obtaining the most coveted collectibles.
The way Klein decided to solve this—and there are certainly different ways, including intermittent supply drops etc., was to create a whitelist of presale commitments directly from supporters in his Discord community. The process was simple: DM and state your request to purchase up to 20 Crypto-Pills by late evening PST August 25th. Each Metamask address was added to the smart contract to enable the collector to initiate their own minting during a 12-hour presale window of opportunity created by Klein. Presale minting will occur at 11:11 pm Hong Kong standard time on August 27, which is exactly 12 hours before the official sale of Crypto-Pills at 11:11 am EST on the very same day. This affords each presale collector plenty of time to mint their Crypto-Pills while gas is relatively low within that 12-hour win. In addition, the random generator assures each collector has a fair and equal opportunity to experience rarity, no matter when they decide to mint.
“If you really love your community, give us early access to the presale,” David Koroma urged. “I’ve been in discord groups for certain projects that go on later to blow up after I was there for a couple of months loving their stuff, and if I had that early opportunity, I would have bought in for sure,” Koroma emphasized.
“If bots get them, and collectors have to pay 4x the price to get in, there’s a whole heap of people who miss out on buying three,” CryptoWizard77 warned. “Flipping between friends at the low levels to get the ones they really like is healthy for the community and the project. It creates a solid floor to kickstart the secondary market rather than just a massive jump,” he explained.
The obvious upside to pre-sales is that even if nefarious crypto pirates seize an unauthorized quantity of Crypto-Pills during the official minting, nearly 500 collectors have already spoken for 45% of the Crypto-Pills available supply. This is a huge win for the crypto community, which has felt powerless to leverage its ability to acquire NFTs from any of the high-profile drops. FUD and FOMO have undoubtedly raised a level of anxiety and tension that discourages newcomers from attempting to become collectors, and Klein’s thankless efforts to defend his intellectual property is a noteworthy act of empathy and equity. It’s important to note that Klein and his team are inputting each wallet address manually. It was suggested Klein use collab.lab in the future because it offers an automated solution for developers who are considering pre-sales as an alternative offering to avoid the backlash they may inevitably face.
Pushing Pills for Good
“These pills are going to do some good in the world,” Klein assured. I am donating 5% of proceeds to Save The Children, a charity that helps disadvantaged children in desperate need of medication, shelter, and food worldwide. This is my personal donation that will be written into the smart contract for full transparency,” he added.