Deafbeef is a generative audiovisual artist using just a C-Compiler to push the limits of on-chain creations and permanence in art. He’s also a passionate metalworker and ring-maker. His work, which started as a personal art project in 2020, has become one of the most recognizable NFT creations today.
Deafbeef is a generative audiovisual artist combining synth revival music with black-and-white animations, many of which draw inspiration from computer history. Deafbeef’s work is unique in that it is stored entirely on-chain. Most NFTs only store the hash on-chain to prove the authenticity of the transaction, but store the art elsewhere.
Deafbeef has long been a maker, tinkerer, artist working across a variety of mediums. He has a background in music and electrical engineering, but during the COVID-19 lockdowns had put personal projects on the backburner to focus on family life while his children were young. With extra time at home, Deafbeef found that he wanted to explore synth music. Rather than investing in expensive synthesizers and equipment, he decided to replicate synth music entirely with code. His work uses self-contained code written using a C compiler.
Deafbeef’s first series, “Synth Poems”, consists of generative pieces of synthesizer music accompanied by vector display graphics that visually represent the music. Qualities like tempo and pitch are randomized to create a completely unique audiovisual experience. After the success of “Synth Poems”, Deafbeef released five more series as part of his first volume of NFTs.
"There's nothing wrong with having fun. Life is too important to be taken too seriously."
While the audio is the main focus of Deafbeef’s work, he’s also used increasingly complex visuals to accompany his music. The series “Transmission” features buzzwords and phrases from the current cultural zeitgeist flashing across the screen at a rapid pace, accompanied by synthesized percussion and video sounds. These pieces play with the concept of subliminal messaging and reflect the overwhelming feeling of our current media environment.
Deafbeef’s most recent project, “Caves”, is inspired by roguelike video games of the 1980s. In these games, the player would explore level after level of 2D caves. Each of the NFTs in “Caves” is a video that features a series of randomly generated cave levels, which get progressively more complex over time. The videos are accompanied by ambient noises to create a feeling of being underground.
One of the reasons why Deafbeef’s work is so attractive is its permanence. Because the entire work is made on-chain, it isn’t reliant on other technologies in order to run.
Deafbeef has participated in exhibitions and live events. In 2021, he made a short film for the High Zero Foundation in Maryland, and he’s also been part of FeralFile’s live performance exhibitions. He’s also released a satirical NFT series called “First”, which uses generative text to poke fun at web3 culture. The proceeds from this project were donated to charity. Outside of his audiovisual work, Deafbeef is a metalworker who has created jewelry, sculpture, and home decor pieces.