The Ins and Outs of Crypto Art Puzzles

By: Andrea Ferrell

The Cryptocurrency boom fizzled out about a year ago, but the emergence of crypto art puzzles keep their legacy alive.

What?

Crypto art puzzles are at the the intersection of the art world and the cryptocurrency space.  These pieces of art embed cryptocurrencies within the works, and whoever is able to solve the code associated with the embedded coins have them transferred into their virtual wallet. Collectors are able to buy these pieces without knowing the “code” to unlock the currency embedded within the piece; however, many times the value of the cryptocurrency is larger than the price of the piece sold. For example, Andy Bauch sold his various pieces in his series “New Money” for between $1,500 and $4,800 while the coins embedded within these pieces were worth over $9,000.

When?

Since the release of Bitcoin in 2009, many people have tried to make cryptocurrency accessible to the public, rather than to just a select group of cryptocurrency fanatics. Crypto art puzzles first appeared in 2014 during the rise of cryptocurrencies and began to gain popularity as the “crypto-craze” hit in December 2017. Since then crypto art puzzles have begun to become more mainstream, with some museums displaying these pieces and collectors buying the works even after the puzzle was solved.

How?

One of the most well-known crypto artists, Andy Bauch, describes his process of creating the art works and integrating the cryptocurrency within the piece. Bauch bought different cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Litecoin, which are each attached to a “key” or URL that is connected to the specific cryptocurrency purchased. A part of the blockchain, keys are how cryptocurrencies are kept track of during trades as the buyer’s private key must match the public key of the coin. He then used these keys to produce an algorithm, which is awarded to the solver of the puzzle. The cryptocurrencies are encoded directly into the algorithm, and the person who solves the cipher, or code, connected to the cryptocurrency is awarded the coins.

When a new puzzle is released, many crypto forums go crazy in an attempt to solve the puzzles and unlock the coins. An example of a explained crypto puzzle is attached below. Solved by Rolf Ragon, “Codex Protocol #1” combines knowledge of history, science and code. 3.1337 ETH were embedded within this piece and available for those who solve the puzzle. Four hints are located along the sides of the piece, all written in Latin. They tell the solver that the code is related to the Golden ratio, the direction of solving is clockwise, the key is located at the top of the work and the code is calculated upon a division of five. Using these tools, Ragon discovered through the code that the key was located in the dodecahedron that hangs from the ceiling in the middle of the piece. He was awarded the 3.1337 ETH, which is about $330 USD.

Picture2

Who?

Marguerite deCourcelle (@coin_artist on instagram) is credited with starting crypto art puzzles. “Dark Wallet Puzzle” was created in 2014 and shows two of the leading figures in the cryptocurrency space. There were 3.4 Bitcoin coded into the work, which was worth about $1,300 at the time it was solved. Crypto art puzzles can be created by anyone with the means to embed cryptocurrencies into an algorithm, and many of the puzzles are becoming easier to solve as more people discover these puzzles.

Why?

Crypto art puzzles are important for a variety of reasons. For starters, this genre of art lies in an interesting space where the creativity of creating art meets the creativity of creating code. The set sellings prices of these art puzzles is a perfect juxtaposition to the crazy volatility seen in the cryptocurrency market as collectors can look at the value of the actual work and the cryptocurrency attached to it. Likewise, the embedded cryptocurrency allows for the art to be tracked down to its creator, a luxury that is hard to come by in the age of the internet where anyone can take credit for things such as ideas or artworks. The blockchain associated with crypto art pieces is forward-looking as many believe that blockchain is the way of the future, and this connection brings art to the forefront of technological innovation.

Works Cited

Codex Protocol News. (2018, June 28). CryptoPuzzles: Where art, cryptography, and cryptocurrency meet. Retrieved from https://medium.com/codexprotocol/cryptopuzzles-where-art-cryptography-and-cryptocurrency-meet-b9339b015470

Crypto Art Puzzles & Games Could Fuel New Crypto Craze. (2019, January 02). Retrieved from https://blockonomi.com/crypto-art-puzzles-games/

Kerr, J. (2018, March 26). Art Puzzles Offer Crypto To Anyone That Can Solve Them. Retrieved from https://www.coindaily.co/art-puzzles-offer-crypto-to-anyone-that-can-solve-them/

Oberhaus, D. (2018, February 03). Here’s the Solution to the 3-Year-Old, $50,000 Bitcoin Puzzle. Retrieved from https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/kzpqzz/heres-the-solution-to-the-3-year-old-dollar50000-bitcoin-puzzle

Sharif, O. (n.d.). Your Bitcoins Are Hidden in the Painting. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-28/your-bitcoins-are-waiting-in-the-painting-if-you-can-find-them

Zuckerman, M. J. (2019, February 03). New Abstract Painting Series Offers Crypto To Anyone Who Can Solve Its Puzzles. Retrieved from https://cointelegraph.com/news/new-abstract-painting-series-offers-crypto-to-anyone-who-can-solve-its-puzzles

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