Introducing Mercurials, an on-chain generative art project

Mercurials is an on-chain generative art project created featuring a continuous, burn-to-mint, variable rate gradual Dutch auction (VRGDA). Each Mercurial is a unique, algorithmically-generated piece of digital art, represented as an ERC721 token on Ethereum.

Mercurial #0

Mercurials are on-chain NFTs, which means that all image data is stored on the blockchain and can be fetched without external dependencies. In contrast, off-chain NFTs only store a link on the blockchain, and the actual image is hosted elsewhere.

On-chain NFTs offer a few advantages: they are more authentic, because the image data is directly linked to the token, and less brittle, because they do not rely on external servers or links that can be broken or changed. However, because it is expensive and technically difficult to get image data on the chain, most NFT projects use off-chain NFTs. Mercurials makes no concessions in this respect—100% of the image data is available on-chain.

You can mint a Mercurial by participating in the auction on The auction works by gradually lowering the price 5% each day until it reaches a level that is attractive to potential buyers. A buyer can mint the token using ether at any time at its current price. Upon mint, the ether is burned, and the token is minted and sent to the buyer. The price is then raised by ~23%, and a new token is auctioned. This process repeats forever.

These mechanics ensure that Mercurial tokens are cheap when demand is low, and expensive when demand is high. As a result, even though there isn’t a hard cap, the total supply is naturally constrained by high prices if necessary.

Burning ether has several benefits, including giving back to the broader Ethereum community by taking Ether out of circulation, eliminating the complexities of managing a treasury, and decoupling profit incentive from the art.

The art featured in the auction is updated to a new, randomly generated image every five blocks (about 60 seconds). The constant stream of unique pieces gives collectors the opportunity to select a Mercurial they desire. It also adds a layer of community curation for the collection as whole, since Mercurials with valuable aesthetics are minted, and less appealing ones are not. As a result, the community is able to shape the overall quality and desirability of the collection.

You can check out the code on GitHub, and follow me on Twitter for updates on other things I'm working on.