About Azurine and AZART

Azurine

Part Araki, part Edgerton, part Newton, part Merritt, and part Giger, Azurine makes art that varies from erotic to contemplative, absurd to scientific, spiritual to unsettling.

Azurine started to work in a darkroom when they were 12, and photography became their favorite creative medium. In college, when they were studying physics, digital imaging technology worked its way into the university’s imaging arts classes, and Azurine quickly changed their major. That was back in ’99, and they’ve been experimenting with alternative image-making ever since.

Well, sort of.

The name ‘Azurine’ wasn’t adopted by the artist until around 2010 when they started exploring erotic art, and it wasn’t made public until the launch of this project in 2020. Before then, they were known as an award-winning experimental filmmaker and editor who released work under the name Matt Costanza.

(This is a good time to mention that they’re also somebody else, a b̶e̶s̶t̶ selling author who writes under the pseudonym M. Lorrox. Click on this affiliate link to Amazon to see their author profile and books.)

Azurine has not yet gathered many accolades, but Matt Costanza has.

International Exhibition History

• Voicing Cage, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA (2012)
• Tricycle and BuddhafestDC Short Film Competition, Arlington, VA (2012)
• Faculty Showcase, The Art Institute of Washington, Arlington, VA (2011)
• Emerging Filmmakers Series, The Little Theatre, Rochester NY (2009)
• The Int’l Fest of Cinema and Technology, Los Angeles, CA (2009)
• The Tank Gallery, New York City, NY (2008)
• Image/Movement/Sound Festival, Rochester, NY (2008)
• 50th Rochester International Film Festival, Rochester, NY (2008)
• 10 or Less Film Festival, Portland, OR (2008)
• Montezuma International Film Festival, Montezuma, Costa Rica (2008)
• DigiFestival.net Film Festival, Florence, Italy (2008)
• Not Still Art Festival 2007, Micro Museum, New York City, NY (2007)
• New England Film and Video Festival, Brookline, MA (2007)
• DigiFestival.net Film Festival, Florence, Italy (2007)
• SOFA Honors Show, Rochester, NY (2007)
• Image/Movement/Sound Festival, Rochester, NY (2007)
• Durango Independent Film Festival, Durango, CO (2007)
• Cape May New Jersey Film Festival, Cape May, NJ (2007)
• Visual Music Marathon, Boston Cyberarts Festival, Boston, MA (2007)
• Best of IMS Festival Retrospective, Rochester, NY (2007)
• I Promise 2 Be You Streaming Show, Hollywood, CA (2007)
• Image/Movement/Sound Festival, Rochester, NY (2006)
• TromaDance, Salt Lake City, UT (2006)
• Brooklyn Underground Film Festival, New York City, NY (2006)
• Twin Rivers Media Festival, Asheville, NC (2006)
• Moondance International Film Festival, Venice, CA (2006)
• Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY (2006)
• Monday Films #3, Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand (2005)
• Media Design School, Auckland, New Zealand (2005)
• Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand (2005)
• University of Melbourne, Victoria College of the Arts, School of Film and Television, Melbourne, Australia (2005)
• La Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia (2005)
• SOFA Honors Show, Rochester, NY (2005)
• Image/Movement/Sound Festival,Rochester, NY (2005)
• Particles and Pixels Symposium, The Moving Image Centre, Auckland, New Zealand (2005)
• (Im)permanence: Cultures In/Out of Time, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA (2005)
• University of Melbourne, Victoria College of the Arts, School of Film and Television, Melbourne, Australia (2005)
• Media Design School, Auckland, New Zealand (2005)
• Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand (2005)
• ignifuge, Brunswick, Australia (2005)
• Unitec Institute of Technology, Snowwhite Gallery Auckland, New Zealand (2005)
• Govett-Brewster Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand (2005)
• The Tank Gallery, New York City, NY (2005)
• John Hopkins Film Festival, Baltimore, MD (2004)
• Toronto Online Film Festival, Toronto, Canada (2004)
• Cincinnati International Film Festival, Cincinnati, OH (2004)
• 2004 New Hampshire Film Expo, Manchester, NH (2004)
• INVIDEO Festival, Milan, Italy and Stuttgart, Germany (2004)
• Not Still Art Festival, Micro Museum, New York City, NY (2004)
• Marylhurst University, Randall Hall Recital, Portland, OR (2004)
• The Tank Gallery, New York City, NY (2004)
• Image/Movement/Sound Festival, Rochester, NY (2004)
• Santa Fe International Film Festival, Santa Fe, NM (2003)
• X|Fest Animation Festival, New York City, NY (2003)
• BigMiniDv Festival, New York City, NY (2003)
• Memphis International Film Festival, Memphis, TN (2003)
• Rochester International Film Festival, Rochester, NY (2003)
• Not Still Art Festival, Micro Museum, New York City, NY (2003)
• Cincinnati International Film Festival, Cincinnati, OH (2002)
• SOFA Honors Show, Rochester, NY (2002)
• Image/Movement/Sound Festival, Rochester, NY (2002)
• Studio 22’s Flicker Festival, Northwestern Univresity, IL (2001)
• SOFA Honors Show, Rochester, NY (2001)

Awards and Honors

Directoral Distinction (I was the Director & Producer)

• School of Film and Animation Honors Show selection, “Awen” (2007)
• Moondance International Film Festival, Sandcastle Award, “Shadows” (2006)
• Twin Rivers Media Festival, 3rd Place Experimental, “Dissolution” (2006)
• School of Film and Animation Honors Show, “Dissolution” (2005)
• Toronto Online Film Festival, Featured Spotlight, “Reflecting Pool” (2004)
• BigMiniDv Festival, Special Recognition Award, “Reverberations” (2003)
• School of Film and Animation Honors Show selection, “Reverberations” (2002)
• School of Film and Animation Faculty Choice Award, “BLUE” (2001)
• School of Film and Animation Honors Show selection, “BLUE” (2001)

 

Edited Film Distinction (I was the Editor)

• Excellence in Experimental Techniques Award, ASIFA-East Animation Festival (New York City, NY)
• Trophy Award, 49th Rochester International Film Festival (Rochester, NY)
• Gold Medal for Excellence—Director’s Choice, Park City Film Music Festival (Park City, UT)
• Best New Art Award, Georgetown Independent Film Festival (Georgetown, MD)
• Best Experimental Short, MicroCineFest (Baltimore, MD)
• Honorable Mention, 48th Rochester International Film Festival (Rochester, NY)
• Gold Medal for Excellence ­ Director’s Choice for Best Impact of Music, in a Short Film, Park City Film Music Festival (Park City, UT)
• Honorable Mention, 47th Rochester International Film Festival (Rochester, NY)
• Best of the Fest Traveling Show Selection, 46th Rochester International Film Festival (Rochester, NY)
• 1st Place Experimental and Charles Schwartz Award for Exemplary Use of Sound and/or Music, Film Fest New Haven (New Haven, CT)

Art Grants and Shows

Art Grants

• Crystal City Business Improvement District Grant, sculpture “Spaceship Earth
in the Universe” (2010)
• Experimental Television Center residency (2007)
• Callahan Rennals Production Grant, “Awen” (2007)
• Genesee Valley Council of the Arts Grant for workshops (2007)
• Image/Movement/Sound Creative Arts Grants (7 total, 2002 – 2007)

 

Solo Shows

• “Day Trips around the Finger Lakes,” Leidenfrost Vineyards, Watkin’s Glen, NY (2009)
• “Compositions in Energy,” Institute for Forest Biotechnology, Raleigh, NC (2007)

 

Group Shows

• Artomatic, Arlington, VA (2012)
• Art Takes Flight, Reagan National Airport, Arlington, VA (2011)
• Bucky-Art Sculpture Exhibit, Arena Stage, Arlington, VA (2010)
• “Fine Art Nude Photography Exhibit, Carriage House Studio, Washington, DC (2010)
• Fotoweek 2010 Exhibit, Carriage House Studio, Washington, DC (2010)”
• Faculty Showcase, Art Institute of Washington, Arlington, VA (2009)
• Heads and Tails, DC MOCA Gallery, Washington, DC (2008)

*With an experimental film currently in production, the name ‘Matt Costanza’ isn’t being retired by the artist at this time. However, plans are in place to cease releasing work under that name in 2021.

AZART tokens

If you don't know what crypto art is or what Ethereum is, read this first.

KEY IDEAS:

Blockchain
Ethereum is a cryptocurrency, like the more well-known juggernaut, Bitcoin. These operate by recording data in public ledgers; called blockchains. Unlike Bitcoin, instead of almost entirely being used to record transactions, Ethereum allows smart contracts—applications—to be run on its blockchain.

 

Decentralization
Bitcoin and Ethererum, (and most other cryptocurrencies) are not controlled by a centralized entity. This means that there’s not one point of failure, nor is there one point of censorship. The power of the network, relies in the network, empowering it and the people that use it.

 

Cryptographically Secure
The Ethereum nework relies on advanced cryptography that allows individuals to have secure ownership while also maintaining a public address. An addresses holdings cannot be faked or counterfeited, because a complete record of all transactions of the network reside on the blockchain. Cryptography allows true and provable ownership of assets.

 

Fungibility
Most digital currencies or ‘coins’ are fungible; meaning that any one unit is just as good as any other unit. 1 whole unit of the Ethereum currency, 1 ETH, in one person’s wallet is just as valuable as 1 ETH in another person’s wallet. But, Ethereum allows programs to run on it, and those programs can ‘mint’ tokens. Certain technological standards allow Ethereum to create tradable units that are not fungible, units that are unique from all others, but still belonging to a larger group of tradable units. These tokens are called Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs.

 

Crypto Art
NFTs can be made to represent anything, from weird cat illustrations with simulated DNA to actual real estate investments. Art can be ‘tokenized’ as NFTs as well, and when it is, it becomes crypto art. It can then be bought, sold, traded, held, or even destroyed by the owner, just like an actual piece of art could be. Due to the nature of NFTs being built on a blockchain, crypto art provenance is a built-in function.

 

Azurine publishes their creative work as crypto art, as AZART tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. Technically, the art is minted as ERC-1155 Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), called “Azurine Art,” and which have the ticker “AZART.” The contract address is 0xe28d2d4f778a2061ac2ae1080c76c4bd0a6f2d3a.

Why AZART are ERC-1155 tokens instead of ERC-721 tokens.

 

You must have a sexy wrinkly brain to be curious about Azurine’s preference for 1155s!

ERC-721 Pros / Cons
The first standardized non-fungible token standard’s main benefit is that it’s established. The second benefit is that the contract is easily query-able for most data. For example, if someone wanted to know who owned token X, they could just query the contract with token X’s token ID (pretty simple). The biggest negatives are that it isn’t gas efficient and that multi-token transactions aren’t possible–in minting, buying, selling, etc.

 

ERC-1155 Pros / Cons
The 1155 standard is much more gas efficient than 721, and it allows all sorts of multi-token transactions. It is less widely adopted (as of early 2021) but that’s changing every day. The largest negative in Azurine’s view is that the contracts themselves are harder to query for certain information. It’s an unfortunate consequence of the significant gas-savings written into the standard. For example, if someone wanted to know who owned token X, they’d have to search the history of events of that contract for token X’s transactions. While that’s not too hard, it’s harder than what would be neccessary with a 721.

 

So why does Azurine Art use the ERC-1155 token standard?
The shortest answer is: cost savings and efficiency. Azurine likes to mint in editions of size 7. That means that each artwork under the 1155 standard is typically less than 1/7 the cost of minting 7 721s. 1155 transactions are cheaper than 721 transactions after minting as well.

Another reason is the way this project is structured. AZART 00001 is one artpiece / NFT with 7 editions. Same with AZART 00002, AZART 00003, AZART 00004, etc. Each of these NFTs have a single token ID on the ethereum blockchain, becuase they’re each just one token. A single AZART number for a single token ID.

Editions with 721s are very different, however, because each edition of an artpiece requires its own token ID. So if AZART were instead to use 721 structure, token IDs 0-6 could be AZART 00001, 7-13 -> AZART 00003, 14-20 -> AZART 00004, etc. In Azurine Art’s use case, 1155’s single token ID feature is a huge benefit.

Minting in 1155s may not make collectors that happy, though, as there currently seems to be a preference for the ‘tried and true’ 721s. But the target audience of Azurine Art are people that appreciate the art and desire lower costs, not nessarily NFT investor/collectors who may not requre low costs.

Those investors/collectors might appreciate the scope of this project and its promise of longevity (in spite of its affordability) but Azurine won’t speak to that. 😉

 

AZART Token Contents

AZART collectible artwork is published online for the world to appreciate in digital formats at display resolution. These files are stored on the main project website, Azurine.art, as well as in a public github repository. In addition to these files, the original artwork is stored and backed up by Azurine.

In addition to the screen-resolution image, metadata is minted with each token. Besides names and links, the most important piece of data is the SHA-256 checksum. This long string of characters allows anyone to verify the authenticity of the token’s associated artwork file. Not only does this data help prove that the token is genuine, it also helps prove it is unique.

For example, AZART #00001 has the following hash embedded in its metadata: “3b9a6ab6f269cf029c66cc67ac862f6d16b1ef7aa8ec81b7ac0f13e3f9178268.” Download the image #00001 from the project website, a mirror, or from the github repository, and check its SHA-256. If it matches, you know you’re looking at the original art file that was minted with the token.

Lastly, because Azurine creates their Azurine Art crypto art under the AZART ERC-1155 token contract, a buyer can be assured they’re buying a verifiable original piece by Azurine.

Anyone can verify an AZART NFT’s authenticity.

One of the reasons Azurine rolled their own contract instead of minting through one of the ‘premiere’ marketplaces (more on that in the next section), is so that it’s easier to interact with the AZART contract. Verifying a token’s authenticity is one of the easiest things you can do, and all the information needed for public verification is posted for maximum transparency. 

Every AZART page on this site not only shows the associated image and description, but a lot of other data as well, including behind the scenes bonus content as well as technical information. Listed in the ‘Token Details’ section is the token ID as well as the date the NFT was made and a ‘Transaction Hash’ link to the actual minting event. If you follow a transaction hash link (like this one for the Bitcoin PumpKING Pie NFT), click on the ‘Click to see more’ link, then on the ‘Decode Input Data’ button.

You’ll see the data sent to the ‘mint’ function of the contract, including the token ID (116), the Ethereum address that called the function (Azurine’s), the supply (AKA edition size, 7), and the token’s uri, (/ipfs/QmYk8SaxTMqgRGKsx4Bkpa5SUb3buZrM5KEM4AfmtmiyDh).

If you add ‘https://ipfs.infura.io’ to the beginning of the uri, you’ll get https://ipfs.infura.io/ipfs/QmYk8SaxTMqgRGKsx4Bkpa5SUb3buZrM5KEM4AfmtmiyDh which is the actual token data, metadata, and links to the assets stored on IPFS.

You can also verify an AZARTs authenticity directly from the contract.

First, open up an AZART permalink on this site. Let’s use a funny token, the Bitcoin PumKING Pie NFT. Notice the ‘Additional Information’ section with Token Details and Contract Details toggles. Open them up and give them a read. Note the AZART Contract address: 0xE28d2d4f778a2061aC2AE1080C76C4BD0A6f2d3A and the token ID: 116.

Now check out the links to the marketplaces on that page, (or from right here: Opensea Link | Rarible Link). Notice that the contract address is in the URL itself. Also note that the last digits in those URLs (after a ‘/’ or ‘:’) show the token ID.

Looks good so far, but let’s keep verifying. You can interact directly with the AZART smart contract on Etherscan.io at this URL. Note the contract address is in the URL again. Go to the bottom of the page and open up the area called ‘uri,’ then enter the token ID in that field. It’ll give you an ipfs link to that token’s resource: ipfs://ipfs/QmYk8SaxTMqgRGKsx4Bkpa5SUb3buZrM5KEM4AfmtmiyDh

This isn’t a regular link, but you can access it by changing the domain, making the link:  https://ipfs.infura.io/ipfs/QmYk8SaxTMqgRGKsx4Bkpa5SUb3buZrM5KEM4AfmtmiyDh

There you’ll see the token’s content, containing the name, description, and additional ipfs links to the media of that token. Here’s the image link, changed so you can view it now: https://ipfs.infura.io/ipfs/QmQqy5rxHJ8PYDDEHuRfB16knxvJ4tCykYu2bAYafGsG7R/image.png (It might take a while to load.)

Finally, back in that first ipfs resource link, you’ll see an ‘external_url’ field:  https://app.rarible.com/token/0xe28d2d4f778a2061ac2ae1080c76c4bd0a6f2d3a:116 (Does that look familiar? It’s the link to the NFT on Rarible.com!)

So by knowing the smart contract address and the token ID, you can check that marketplaces are showing the proper asset, and that the token resource itself contains all the expected content.

 

 

AZART NFTs are only available on select marketplaces.

I don’t have any interest in having my work on platforms like SuperRare, KnownOrigin, MakersPlace, (etc), so I’ve never applied.

Through them, I’d certainly be able to reach wider audiences and make larger sales, but those aren’t the main goals of this AZART project.

If I minted through them, they’d control the contract I’d be minting on, not me. My tokens would be mixed in with other artist’s, and I’d have a harder time creating the smart contract interactivity I’m hoping for.

I don’t like that the platforms are essentially gatekeepers, and I also don’t like that the platforms charge a significant fee for primary sales.

I much prefer open markets and low fees, so I have storefronts on Rarible.com and Opensea.io.

Project Resources

ERC-1155 Token Content

Hopefully it’s not a surprise to you to learn that the artwork associated with AZART NFTs are not on-chain. It’s not on the Ethereum network, and it’s not on an emerging file-store blockchain (like filecoin or arweave). This is ok–art content does not need to be on-chain, especially when it’s not a super-premium artwork (on-chain expenses are typically ‘premium’.) Most NFTs aren’t on-chain. Many use decentralized sytems (at least partially), but some are completely centralized. AZART token content is-

On-chain proponent interrupts: “But Azurine, what if the internet goes away? So will your tokens! That’s why they have to be on-chain! The blockchain will never go away!”

Azurine sighs: “I Disagree. If the decentralized internet fails, blockchains might too. A different way to think abou it might be, because “blockchains are forever”, the decentralized internet is probably forever too. Also, do you think Vinny Van Gogh really gave a crap about his paintings existing 1000 years? No, I really don’t think that was a large concern for him. I too, am not that concerned about Azurine Art existing for eternity. If it does, great, but if not, that’s fine. I expect it’ll exist as long as it’s relevant and appreciated, and that’s plenty long enough for me.”

Anyway, unlike many other NFTs, all AZART token content is stored on the decntralized IPFS file system. There is no content, main or meta, that relies on centralized systems. This isn’t a feature of the ERC-1155 token standard but is a feature of the AZART smart contract integration.

In addition to token content being decentralized, all aspects of this project are decentralized or redundantly backed up.

The Azurine.Art website is backed up regularly, automatically, and all art, both screen resolution and the original piece, is stored redundantly. The public AZART repository on Github is available around the world, ensuring that the token content of Azurine Art NFTs will always be accessible, and full-resolution files of all art is redundantly stored on various encrypted clouds and is accessible by token owners through Mega file serving cloud.

 

Token Interaction

Currently, any token owner is granted permission to download the full-resolution files the AZART NFTs are made from. Technically, anyone can break the rules and download all the content, but it’s prohibited. At this time, that’s about all this website can do, but eventually, Azurine hopes to incorporate web3 technology into this website to verify ownership prior to allowing access to files and special content.

The goal for web3 integration is to encourage greater interaction between the tokenized art and its owners. Behind the scenes file access and options to order prints are possibilities being explored.

 

If you’re a web3 wizard or have token-interaction ideas you’d like to discuss with Azurine, contact them on social media or through the email form below.

Official Social Media Accounts

Github, Model Mayhem: @Azurine

Twitter, Reddit: @AzurineArt

Discord: @Matto#7777 (nickname @Azurine)

Contact Azurine

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