Wen growth? An introduction to Seed Capital

6 min readMar 17, 2022


Seed Capital at Art Dubai 2022
Seed Capital @ Art Dubai

“Remember when the idea of DAOs used be something more akin to an institutional robot? — i.e a decentralized software automously governing an economic domain.”[0]


The following will give a short introduction to terra0’s Seed Capital and its corresponding Certificates of Growth (CoG) and provide a summary of its premiere exhibition at Art Dubai 2022. First the concept behind the CoG’s will be explained and then the minting process with data will be outlined.

Three month ago Fingerprints DAO reached out to us with the opportunity to create an installation at Art Dubai. We’ve been following Fingerprints for some time and are convinced that their approach of recognizing smart contracts as art is a fitting characterizing of research undertaken by terra0. With terra0 we are always interested in dynamic processes merging material practice with token systems that build bridges between economic and ecological processes in order to facilitate hybrid systems.

Our previous installation piece Prenma Daemon that we conceptualized and built for the Proof of Work exhibition at Schinkel Pavillon in 2018 exhibited these qualities and was an early summation of much of terra0’s nascent research and conceptualization of these processes. The description reads:

“The system consists of a Bonsai tree (a Premna Microphylla), a web interface, several sensors and cameras, and a Smart Contract on the Ethereum Mainnet. The software and hardware system(s) the tree is embedded within — a set of technological prostheses the plant is augmented with — allow for the creation of a financially-mediated social contract to come into being between the operators of the Proof of Work exhibition and this hybrid entity. The operators have committed to care for the various needs of the Premna Daemon (watering, lighting, leaf trimming, etc) only when Premna itself requests assistance by sending Ethereum to a wallet owned by the gallery. The Eth used for these requests is donated to Premna by users via the web interface.” [1]

The idea here is pretty basic: Through ongoing donations via an webinterface the sculpture could pay for its own maintenance — creating a financially-mediated social contract between the exhibiting institution and the art piece itself. Something we noticed while exhibiting and running Premna Daemon was that some donating visitors were sometimes unhappy with the relationship created through this act as there was no way of displaying that they were an active participant within the context of the artwork.

Seed Capital @ Art Dubai

Seed Capital

Seed Capital — in many ways the logical successor to Premna Daemon — is a sculpture that suggests ways to rethink the economic and ecological relationships between viewers, the institution and the artwork. The artwork works as a technologically-augmented organic system which engages in social and financial contracts with its environment.

It consists of a plant (Dypsis lutescens) standing prominently on a metal sculpture in the form of a public seating. Both are not for sale and will be featured in a total of four exhibitions, the first of them being Art Dubai as a collaboration with Fingerprints DAO. Around the plant there are electrical peripherals that are connected to it by cables. Changing values and graphics are shown on displays. The seats as well as the table surface made of aluminum plate are printed with irregular colored gradients and grids.

At a predetermined interval (Total minutes of exhibition duration divided by 400. Art Dubai’s Interval is therefore 15 Minutes), a computer measures soil moisture and temperature and combines both in a cryptographically signed data packet all around the clock. If the sensor readings are in the correct range for the plant, the data package can be used to mint an NFT via a front end — if not, the smart contract rejects the data packet and the maximum number of possible minted NFTs is reduced by 1.

The values of the data package are stored in the smart contract through the minting process. The resulting vector image is generated completely on-chain and therefore doesn’t rely on external storage. The smart contract code maps the stored values of every token into a data visualization, rendering a unique gradient, which works as a visual individual timestamp.

Certificate of Growth #414 minted with from the last data packet at Art Dubai 2022

As a means of appreciation for the care-taking as well as a game-theoretical hedge against possible misbehavior, part of the proceeds are stored in the smart contract and can be withdrawn after the end of the exhibition by the exhibiting institution, in whose stewardship the plant is placed during the exhibition.This mechanism is an incentive for the institution to ensure that the plant consistently has the best conditions to grow.

If the time interval expires without the data packet being used for minting, it is overwritten and also loses its validity. In this way, the installation dictates the rhythm at which the user devotes attention to the plant and also introduces a deflationary hedge for token holders: Less attention leads to a lower circulation and thus to an increased value of the single NFT.

By specifying the curator and exhibition location on the token, a speculative difference in value is created between the tokens, and the economic connection between physical location and digital representation is brought into focus. The work thereby comments on the value creation mechanisms of the art world in which artistic positions are largely determined by participation in specific exhibitions and the taking place in specific locations.

The artistic work will be on display in 4 exhibitions in total, with only Art Dubai curated by Fingerprints DAO announced so far, allowing for a maximum of 1600 NFTs assuming all data packets are valid and no interval is missed. What is certain is that the work itself, as another terra0 prototype, remains unsaleable. The work ends with the finissage of the last of the four exhibitions and will henceforth live on as the NFT collection.

Seed Capital @ Art Dubai

The first Exhibition (Art Dubai)

So how did Art Dubai go? First, the tokenomics:

Over the course of 4 days, a total of 171 Certificate of Growth NFTs were minted, including 14 genesis tokens. At least 13 NFTs were minted on-site, by actual fair-visitors at Art Dubai. [2]

Due to an unforeseeable technical failure (someone literally pulled the plug of the installation overnight) 29 packages were lost, since the microcomputer was turned off, reducing the maximum amount of packages to 371. From this, 157 packages were minted — compared to the maximum amount of mintable packages this means that 42,3% of all the possible packages for this exhibition have been minted. This effectively reduces the maximum number of Certificate of Growth NFTs from 1600 to 1372. (your CoG just got more RARE)

Fingerprints DAO did a great recap thread -

Every day of the fair, we had hundreds of people from all over the world visit our booth and engage with the Seed Capital installation. The overwhelming majority were curious and excited to learn more about the artwork. [3]

Highest & Lowest temperature:

The temperatures recorded on the minted data packets ranged from a low of 19,0c (Certificate of Growth 107) to a high of 22,88c (Certificate of Growth 408). [4]

Highest & Lowest Moisture:

Meanwhile, the soil moistures recorded on the minted data packets ranged from a low of 72,37% (Certificate of Growth 29) to a high of 78,2% (Certificate of Growth 118). [5]

Seed Capital @ Art Dubai

We are currently in the process of evaluating if and how the next exhibitions will be chosen — maybe some snapshot voting coming up ;)

We would also thank so many people and institutions for making this happen: Fingerprints DAO, Sam Spike, Algoriddims, Henry Brand, Johannes Wilke (Graphic Design), Frederic Brodbeck (Frontend / Dev Ops), Jake Allen (Contract Review and Advisory) and ofc Art Dubai.