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Deafbeef: Mimesis of Blockchain as a Closed System

By September 14, 2021September 15th, 2021No Comments

Blockchain Networks are closed systems by definition and by design. By closed, we imply that by themselves blockchains cannot natively access information from the outside world. This intrinsic incapacity to interface with the empirical world that we live in and to consume information from the Outside are defining traits of this self-referential technological stack. 

Deafbeef’s work is a fear-inducing and claustrophobic illustration of Blockchain as a closed system.

The decidedly solipsistic character of his aesthetic is destabilizing – faced with the haunting beauty and austere simplicity of pure code, the viewer, standing in a void of nothingness, reaches out for comfortable and reassuring references and there are none to be found, no familiar representational anchors come flying to the rescue. 

There is nothing mimetic and substantial in his minimal and daring aesthetic. There is nothing here that would suggest his inputs, pure code, are inspired by elements of the real world. The outputs, the pieces generated without supervision from pieces of code, bear no resemblance to anything we can see in the real world. What we have here is the decaying (his pieces degrade with each wallet change) expression of the self-referential character of blockchain technology.

The starting point for each of his pieces (and this aspect of his Modus Operandi truly challenges Aesthetic’s understanding of Art) is self contained code written in C, a procedural programming Language. His code directly outputs raw numerical data encodable to sound and visual media. His work is fearlessly autotelic, the Alpha of this autotelic merry go round being C code stored on-chain (and not on an external service such as IPFS) that targets Ethereum, which is itself dependent on C Compilers.

Deafbeef stuns the classically trained Art critic further (who wonders with a smirk if we are still dealing with Art, and when this generative nonsense will end) when he states that his models are deterministic. Should anything happen to an NFT, his models are sufficient to perfectly reproduce the generated outputs (the artist even provides very precise instruction to reconstruct the NFT). As the models are stored on the Ethereum Blockchain, the permanence of the outputs is assured.

His Synth Poems, variation on the theme of the evanescence of the Author, are minute long generative pieces leveraging the power of FM synthesis. Each piece is generated on the fly at the time of minting from a random hash value. The focus of his synth poems is audio, however the audio is accompanied by visualizations that are reminiscent of early computer graphics. The left and right audio channels are mapped to X and Y coordinates of an oscilloscope to produce haunting visualizations.


Deafbeef distinguishes himself by his parsimonious nature: he understands there is value in holding back (only 49 posts on his Instagram account since August 2020) and speaking, or shall we say minting, only when necessary. He does not hide the fact that the amount of mints should be kept to a minimum: “The number of mints should only be as many as is required to display the range of the generative system”. This parsimony induces a certain amount of scarcity on the markets, which is great for prices in the long run.

How should collectors and investors approach Deafbeef’s work?

There is strong steady interest for his work, as can be seen on Crypto Slam (see below). This fact diminishes the risk that his NFTs will remain unsold (and turn into idle assets) if one wishes to sell them. 


Data gathered from NFTStats corroborates this: strong, steady interest for pieces that fetch prices in the mid six-figures.


A chart from a different source ( tells the same story: strong, steady interest with price firmly anchored in the mid six-figures (see below).


Our preferred strategy is to hold long-term. The combination of induced scarcity, the ambitious nature of his Modus Operandi, and the fact that his creations are stored on-chain and are future-proof (the NFTs can be reconstructed, if one follows the artist’s instructions) provides a tremendous amount of value to collectors and investors, who should favor a patient approach. Deafbeef’s minimal and very focused Aesthetic is a fantastic contribution to the NFT sector, and he is certainly one of the artists every collector will need keep an eye on.

Deafbeef on Social Media:

Deafbeef can be found on the following marketplaces:

Interviews and podcasts:

DYOR: Not financial advice (disclaimer). If you enjoyed this post, consider becoming a keyholder for members-only exclusives.

Lukas Merville

Lukas Merville

Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, Lukas Merville graduated in Literary Studies at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) and in Art History at the University of Montreal. He then flew to Japan to complete an Art Internship at Shizuoka's Center for Creative Communications (CCC) under the guidance of Curator Pamela Jewell. Lukas is a patient and prolific writer, having published numerous articles and books, mostly on the Phenomenology of the Artistic Experience and Aesthetics. His approach is inspired by Wolfgang Iser's Phenomenological method applied to the reading experience, Husserl and Ingarden.

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