One noun, every day, forever. The mantra of this colorful, playful, and charming collection is the epitome of generative art that promises to persist through eternity and pave a path for digital art’s permanence. With the iconic square glasses on every noun, the Nouns characters are 32x32 pixel images of people, places, and things, ranging from cows, strawberries, eggs, planets, wizard’s hats, and king’s crowns, an eclectic cornucopia born from an indefatigable dreamer’s unrelentingly feverish imagination. Nouns take on a life and character all their own, providing a diverse batch of pieces that promise to persevere.
But the power of Nouns goes beyond the charm of the art itself. Each piece presents its owner with a key to the grand kingdom that is at the heart of the Nouns mission. Each day one Noun is minted and sold and the purchase feeds the treasury which serves to bolster and nourish the very community from which it sprang.
The treasury is a golden goose egg that exists to inspire the community that created it, as well as the whole world beyond. Inventors, dreamers, designers, engineers are encouraged to submit proposals that can expand the Nouns universe and the Nouns holders serve as the board that votes upon whether these ideas will be funded from the treasury.
This establishes a kind of modern day tribuni plebis, in which the ordinary individual holds the power to create an entire world of pervasive and lasting significance without a central governing body or authority.
Each Nouns holder is king and has the ability to sponsor bright minds and individuals who come forth with incandescent ideas. These are put to a vote and the most brilliant are lit to life. Upon speaking with resident engineer cdt.eth, I asked him what drew him to Nouns and in what way the mission resonated with him:
“As Blequity put it ‘Nouns offer a childlike state of play, but with big kid capital.’ Like most people, I was first drawn into Nouns by how different it felt from everything else. Nouns is creatively liberating, technologically inspiring, and has the potential to make real impact with a permissionless pool of capital dedicated to growing Nouns and funding public goods.”
The possibilities for Nouns are infinite. These bright, playful characters are the throbbing heart of creative potential. cdt.eth reveals,
“There are so many projects being worked on simultaneously with tons of new ideas being brought up weekly.”
Ideas are as fruitful as the minds that bear them: Nouns glasses, Nouns coffee, Nouns storybooks for future television shows, Nouns cartoons, Nouns restaurants, Nouns theme parks, Nouns pajamas. Nouns has the potential to be as pervasive and permanent as iconic figures Mickey Mouse and Goofy, characters that carry a rich history of happiness and a hypnotic appeal that can be identified by a toddler and also featured on an adult’s underwear alike. These characters are timeless and remain fixtures in popular culture, saturating film, literature, music, media, toys, merchandise, and ideologies.
But unlike the protected figures belonging to Disney, the Nouns characters are cc0 and accessible to all who seek to use them for the proliferation and expansion of the universe. One of the founders, punk4156 shared his optimism with me for the future of Nouns and the ways in which it can create a better world:
“I think we’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of what is possible. As the treasury scales, and our experience as a DAO scales, we will be able to fund more ambitious proposals - proposals that ultimately escape the so-called metaverse and start having an impact in real life. ”
One can only imagine the real life effects that a project of this capacity can create: Nouns feature films teaching universal themes of human acceptance, Nouns integrated in the American educational system, Nouns as a permanent face of cultural significance defining an entire era, controlled by the will and vote of the people who believe in the mission from its origin. 4156 is convinced of the power of Nouns to do good: “I think using the proceeds the DAO accumulates from making the internet nounish to make the real world a better place is a noble long-term goal for the project.”
As Nouns collectors can revel in their acquisition of one of these charming and powerful pieces, creatives can let their wildest dreams unfurl as they seek to obtain a portion of the treasure to fund their novel ideas. I spoke with Nouns collector Jack Butcher about what excites him most about Nouns:
“The ability for creative people to "build on'' Nouns is very exciting to me– with Nouns, your chances of success are significantly higher by leveraging their memetic market fit.”
He comments upon how the project is designed to invite artists and inventors and designers alike to build upon one original idea, rather than having it safeguarded and legally protected by a sole corporation. The entire idea of intellectual property is seen through a fresh light. He was drawn to Nouns based upon the novel way in which artists are encouraged to build upon a sole shared subject:
“That process really helped me understand the power of networks, seeing content replicate across the internet, a front row seat to the organic nature of memes…Instead of trying to shut down copycats, you should encourage them.”
Such a model is a novel way of beginning a cultural revolution by providing a glittering kingdom where like-minded visionaries can launch ideas from a central, playful source. Voted on and supported by their peers, the art takes on an expansive and unimaginable array of avenues. If one can dream it, one can do it, and the appeal of such a creative and community led mission has great appeal to the masses. When I spoke to Deeze, he shared the fascinating ways in which Nouns has become a pervasive and infectious symbol in the cultural landscape:
“At every single conference, someone I respect outside of Nouns has started talking to me out of nowhere about Nouns. It's been kind of a crazy coincidence/signal to be honest. I'm excited to see the Nouns community continue to grow and bring in new members through things like Lil Nouns and even fractional Nouns. Personally, I want to help make the blue-chip NFT space more accessible and inclusive and I think Nouns are one of the best communities to get involved with to help achieve these goals.”
People dream it, do it, the world loves it. The goal is to cement Nouns as part of the culture so that everyone recognizes these varicolored, endearing characters and they begin to represent a cultural movement that is led by the people, instead of by a central company or corporation. The characters are not at the mercy of any corporate governing body, but by individuals who fell in love with the art and the mission of the project to expand the Nouns universe, to build a kingdom with a myriad of arteries that feed the central heart of Nouns’ creative potential.
4156 believes the monetary value of Nouns will rise alongside its cultural significance:
“The funny thing about NFTs is that they are actually culture as money. The financial value of any given NFT as real currency is closely related to its value as cultural currency. The stronger the meme, the more attention it can aggregate, the more famous the associated token.”
These characters are playful, they appeal to our youthful natures and we love them because they tap into our deep seated love of games, colors, cartoons. From there they grow and their potential brightens like a red hot flame, they bear the visions of fertile brains, poised to launch across the cultural stratosphere past the starry brilliance of cryptospace and leave behind our chosen legacies.
By that measure, as Nouns become an inseparable part of our cultural conscience, their value will increase and the treasury will grow, the gold will glitter brighter and there will be more ideas funded, more projects created, more visions realized. In this way, the jovial characters boasting square-shaped glasses can be the catalyst of real-world changes and good in the world.