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CRYPTOSONOGLYPHS: THE BOOK OF THE DEAD

cryptosonoglyph noun cryp·to·sono·glyph | ˈkrip-tō-sōnō-ˌglif: the heteroradical re-imagining of Late Bronze Age hieroglyphics combining 3D animation, cryptography and sound, to bring a dead language into the digital afterlife.

Beneath the glitzy surface of digital art lies a Sphinx ready to awaken — it stirs and bristles, hungry for something new and true to itself: a way of making art that lives up to the potential of both blockchain technologies and the ancient spirit of creativity coursing through tradition. This is why we’ve chosen as the medium of our first NFT collection the cryptosonoglyph — a blend of cryptography, hieroglyphics, 3D digital animation and sound — fusing one of the oldest information technologies (Late Bronze Age pictograms) with contemporary encryption and blockchain techniques. Each animated glyph is a discrete work of art based upon an Egyptian hieroglyph reinterpreted through 3D animation and containing a high-resolution bespoke audio track. The images and sounds represent different artistic and musical styles and often use experimental methods in their creation.

In homage to the most ancient cryptological tradition of all, the collection is inspired by ancient Egyptian principles of encipherment, such as class substitution, antonomasia, metonymy, visual puns, and the rebus.

Beyond these immediate themes of intelligibility and technique, the glyphs reveal a deeper question concerning the relationship between art and death. Therein lies our perhaps impossible ambition to resurrect a bygone world of form and meaning; to bring dead characters back to life and present them to a contemporary audience. In this sense, the project uses art to reach into the depths of history and release ghosts of civilizations past into a kind of digital afterlife.

This is part of our ongoing, long-term, Borgesian project to illustrate the complete Egyptian Book of the Dead, hieroglyph by hieroglyph, transforming each two-dimensional figure into a three-dimensional animated object. In this way, it will eventually become possible to read the entire book not just as a string of symbols but as a multitude of fully-realized virtual beings — gods and mortals, animals and plants, tools and weapons — so the book will appear alive; as vast and restless as the world itself. One could then assemble a world out of the book, and a book out of the world.

WHY THE EGYPTIAN BOOK OF THE DEAD?

We’ve chosen to animate the ancient Egyptian funerary text known as the Book of the Dead, which originated around 1550 BCE and was used in funerary art for the next 2,000 years; painted on objects, sarcophagi, burial chambers, and memorialized on papyri. We chose this ancient and, frankly, quite incomprehensible book from the modern point of view, for two main reasons: (1) it’s about the voyage into the Afterlife — by definition unknowable — and therefore it’s one of the ultimate works of the human imagination, rich in mystical surrealism; and (2) due to its two-millennia span, the Book offers perhaps the most comprehensive and diverse compendium of hieroglyphics available — the gold standard for anyone attempting to reanimate an entire dead language using 21st century technology.

HOW THE CRYPTOSONOGLYPHS WORK

Each glyph consists of a 3D animation with a seamlessly looping soundtrack composed specifically for it, as well as additional unlockable content, all of which is delivered to the purchaser in a file pack of MP4s at different resolutions (full HD, 4K and 8K), a wav audio file and a text file.

The first series of the collection combines 15 glyphs that together form a poetic fragment from the Book of the Dead; a fragment we chose for its meaning and relevance as the first of the entire collection. A secret, unpublished 16th artwork will become available to the owner of any 5 or more of the first 15 glyphs.

Once a collector eventually amasses enough glyphs from the collection, it will become possible to assemble them however one likes to create other visual combinations and linguistic phrases. Similarly, by combining the discrete NFT soundtracks, one can build one’s own audio library and create original music out of the individual sounds or an entire audiovisual experience by using them together.

Purchase of each glyph unlocks a full HD, 4K and 8K mp4, a wav audio file, as well as additional content. A native format is provided for virtually every common display in use today, while 8K resolution future-proofs the collection to the maximum extent possible with today’s technology. The Unicode symbol for each hieroglyph is embedded in the metadata, establishing the link between the original Egyptian symbol and its animated interpretation.

The 15 individual soundtracks combine to create a fully original musical composition to compliment the entire series. The linguistic phrase is by nature voiceless since we’ve lost the sounds of the ancient Egyptian language, our composition is an attempt to give it back its voice.

Browse the entire first series on OpenSea and hear them with sound.

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