The Beautiful Bastards

The Beautiful Bastards

I haven't written in a while. Mostly because building and fundraising for Cardshop has been taking up most of my time. I've also gone deep down the rabbit hole and gotten involved in an NFT project that is of particular interest to me (and what we're trying to do at Cardshop) - BASTARD GAN PUNK V2.

When someone who is interested in NFT's asks me what to buy I tell them, "buy the Punks and the Socks". What I mean is to buy a CryptoPunk or Unisocks. I'm not going to go into Unisocks in this post, but CryptoPunks are the first NFT and are 10,000 uniquely generated characters with different traits and items - each lending to different rarities and values. The lowest CryptoPunk is currently listed for sale around $40,000. Last week one of the more rare punks, an Alien punk, sold for $7.5M.  They are first franchise of the Metaverse and will be insanely valuable in the future.

Cardshop will be all about monetization of digital franchises and we believe community will be a big moat in web3. Having built the Stocktwits community, I've thought a great deal about what that means exactly this time around, and what it could mean at Cardshop. I've come to the conclusion that a community team in for us kind of looks partly like a hedge fund. A team who not only supports our community but invests in various projects that could support our format, and hang out on various Discords - basically keeping an eye to the market and supporting cool artists our community would like to invest in. Last week I took some ETH and went down the rabbit hole myself. I found a bunch of Bastards.

The BGANS

The BASTARD GAN PUNKS or "bgans" as I will refer to them, are the brainchild of a crypto artist/musician Berk, who took the original CryptoPunks and ran them through a GAN - Generative Adversarial Network and the result is a bunch of "bastardized" CryptoPunks.  Unlike many other "unofficial" Punk projects, the bgans have to be minted alongside a bonding curve. You must adopt a "bastard" and "free it from the orphanage". Up until now 75% have been minted.

The Beauty and Collectability of Emergent Rarities

The Bastards have some traits and rarities that are hard coded like HYPE AF (a gif of many bastards), which 8% of them currently have, as well as "BASTARDNESS" of which a 1/1 just sold for 24 ETH.

What makes the BGAN's unique, however, are the "emergent" rarities that the GAN process has produced. "Neckless" punks are very rare, and one sold last week for a pretty penny. "Clean", "Glitched", and "Double Smokers" are also emergent categories of rarities. Many of these rarities are being discovered during the mint and the community will eventually vote on what constitutes a "rarity" once all the bgans are minted. There are also song lyrics in every description from an Emo punk website that went through the GAN producing awesome, weird poetic lyrics like:

BOOMER WAR COULD HAVE BEEN BITTEN BY IDENTITY COULD HAVE BEEN CAUGHT UP WITH MY PRIDE WHEELS WILL CHARGED BY THE IDENTITY TOMORROW PLEASE HELP ME

From a collecting perspective these emergent rarities are really interesting as many people could potentially "discard" BGANS in the early days to just find out they are worth a ton of money in the future.

From an art perspective it just produces some really beautiful looking bastardized punks. Here are two that I own:

The one on the left shows a male-ish punk and has an emergent rarity being referred to as "Perfect squares". The other one, has a rare black/gradient background, and some awesome rare items like a red nose, a joint and just looks cool AF.

The emergent traits are more interesting as well because unlike the original punks, gender isn't nearly as defined w/ the bgans, and that is by design. From the artist Berk,

For BGANPUNKS V2, I chopped all Cryptopunks attributes, made cross-gender copies of ones which were made for only one gender (BGANPUNKS ARE QUEER!), categorised them in different folders (Hairs/Heads, Eyes, Glasses, Smokes etc.), and wrote a script to make all possible combinations of those traits. I also added skin and accessory color randomization + a couple of custom traits I've drawn myself. To be honest it was a painful and shitty process because I had to do all the cuts by hand and had to optimize the script via trial and error maybe like hundreds of times, to not to make unnecessary 1000000 images at the end which would take a lifetime to train the model with my shitty GPU

A great example is through this beautiful bastard, the iconic "Ape" in a wig:

The BGAN Community

Perhaps the most interesting thing I've found is the BGAN community, itself. The Discord is really active and lots of subcommunities have developed around the emergent rarities. It's filled with NFT enthusiasts, data scientists, and even crypto and real celebrities like @CryptoCobain and Mark Cuban's Quant Lead, Bob Voulgaris.

For me, the community feels like a mixture between Stocktwits, the community stream and Stocktwits the company slack channel - which I think gets to the core of how web3 will erase many of those boundaries. The community was working all weekend putting together a roadmap around deciding how to begin identifying the emergent rarities and whether or not to "burn" the remaining unminted bastards in the orphanage - a dark thought but very on brand for the project. It felt like the early days of a startup mixed with a Stocktwits stream about a stock - bizarre and beautiful.

Anyways, I wanted to both use this post to share an awesome project that I've enjoyed watching and participating in on a very low level as well as highlight a project that validates many of our hypotheses around Cardshop and how we're approaching NFT's.

It's also a project, like many things in NFT's, that just reminds me of a time when the web felt new, weird, and wonderful.