About: awalkaday.art Photography Collection


AUTHOR'S NOTE

I work on this artistic project in my spare time, in public, independently, and at the pace of a turtle. The first coding blocks of the project appeared online in November 2017. From the beginning, the creative process was intuitive and non-linear, but time-stamped by a digital clock.

This text document has been a work in progress since May 2021. Countless public drafts and serene outdoor walks have shaped it into its current state, akin to a therapeutic craft and exercise. To view the history of its changes, visit GitHub.com (Last modification: May 23, 2024).


READING GUIDE

1. Introduction to the Photo Series 
2. Beyond Pixels: A Picturesque Stroll into Nature 
3. Mobile Studio and Digital Toolkit  
   3.1. On-the-go Photography  
   3.2. Cameras and Photo Editing  
   3.3. Gaming Laptop  
4. Chronicles of Milestones Navigation 
   4.1. Ongoing Pathways 
   4.2. Internet Footprints 
   4.3. Blockchain Records 
5. Evolution of a Pixelated Trek on Platforms  
   5.1. Instagram  
   5.2. GitHub  
   5.3. Web Gallery  
   5.4. X (Twitter)  
   5.5. Ethereum  
6. Artist's Proofs and Ethos  
   6.1. Public Git Commits  
   6.2. Open Source Software  
7. Artist Profile  
   7.1. Human Identity 
   7.2. Training Ground 
   7.3. Inception Story  
8. Contact  

1. Introduction to the Photo Series

Welcome to awalkaday.art, a collection of 263 photographs created by Chris-Armel (daqhris) and published on the Ethereum blockchain since February 2023. This digital body of work captures the enchanting beauty seen in diverse landscapes of various Belgian regions through a captivating series of monochrome photographs. Each photograph is assigned a unique identification token on the blockchain, guaranteeing that it is authentic, traceable and collectable.

2. Beyond Pixels: A Picturesque Stroll into Nature

Embark on a visual journey with awalkaday.art, where the mission transcends pixels to ignite a passion for the great outdoors. More than just a visual spectacle, this collection is a call to embrace the rejuvenating power of nature, urging everyone to go outside, enjoy the fresh air, be captivated by the surroundings and cultivate well-being through the simplicity of regular walks, whether short or long.

In an age of rapid urbanisation, many people feel disconnected from their local environment and lack the inspiration to explore unfamiliar landscapes. The art of walking, one of the least tiring yet most rewarding physical activities, remains overlooked by most.

Through the lens of Chris-Armel, awalkaday.art is more than just a digital gallery. It is a testament to his passion for photography and a vessel for sharing his creative skills across borders and oceans. The web gallery and the smart contract were openly self-built and are seamlessly interlinked to ensure effortless navigation for all who wish to discover and engage with the digital travelogue.

3. Mobile Studio and Digital Toolkit

3.1. On-the-go Photography

The collection centers around locations in Belgium and explores a diverse range of scenes that include streets, landscapes, architecture, and nature. The monochromatic scenes document sightings and preserve the memories of a human wanderer, exiled away from homeland, on an intuitive quest propelled by regular walks. These photographs were captured during walks through the streets and alleyways of Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels, regions within Belgium. The process of photographing spanned six years, with a gap of three years between time intervals: 2017-2018 and 2021-2022.

Traveling on foot became essential after the outbreak of a global pandemic in 2020. Therefore, the artist resumed his leisure activity and transformed it into a therapeutic mobile project. A minimalist technical plan was adopted to reduce the lingering fear of losing electronic tools (stolen, hacked, or malfunctioning) and to fuel a digital quest progressing at the rhythm of frequent and abrupt moves around a terrestrial territory seen as a land of adoption and refuge.

3.2. Cameras and Photo Editing

At the beginning of this travelogue on Western soil, between 2017 and 2018, a Xiaomi smartphone, purchased in Beijing around 2015, was the tool in-use for recording and editing still images. In early 2021, a smartphone operating under Android One software system was purchased to meet the need for a dedicated mobile camera which regularly receives secure software updates from its American creator, Google. Its longevity and endurance have earned it the merit of being compared to a cheap handheld Air Force One in the hands of a moving target of celestial attention and protection.

Most of the photographs were edited using Android software applications, such as Snapseed, White Border, and Scrambled Exif, installed on a Nokia smartphone. The low-cost phone, designed by a Finnish firm and bought on Belgian soil, was equipped with two rear cameras, including a 13-megapixel primary sensor and a 2-megapixel depth sensor, which can produce decent detail in well-lit conditions. Overall, the camera had basic features to balance highlights and shadows in photographs and assist with scene recognition and optimization, but these were limited by the mediocre sensors.

3.3. Gaming Laptop

A laptop computer, branded as Hasee God of War and acquired on the Asian continent, was very useful for coding sessions while building the online gallery on top of digital foundations. This device was one of the few items that he was able to keep after being arbitrarily detained by Chinese authorities in June 2016.

Unfortunately, the gaming computer mysteriously crashed during a malware analysis, six years later, in the winter of 2022. The nearly decade-old computing device, still alive and undiagnosed in his care, eventually regained basic functionality under Linux software. It's worth noting that the creative tools and works were more than once rescued, recovered or revived thanks to pieces of computer software, Linux and Git, brought to life by a Finnish-born inventor.

4. Chronicles of Milestones Navigation

Let's dive into key moments that have shaped his artistic journey — an odyssey navigated in solitude on the creative path leading to awalkaday.art. Each milestone not only marks a significant achievement, but also adds another chapter to an evolving story. Join us as we explore the turning points, triumphs and transformative experiences that have shaped the nature of this photography series.

4.1. Ongoing Pathways

The photo collection has evolved since its inception. Over the years, the artist has:

4.2. Internet Footprints

The visual art practice, reinforced by web surfing, began in July 2017, when a photo was posted on Instagram with the caption: Don't watch the clock. Do what it does. Keep going. The first and last photographs, preserved in the collection, appeared online respectively in November 2017 and September 2022.

The Internet domain awalkaday.art was officially registered in May 2021. One year later, a meaningful milestone was reached when selected photographs graced the virtual walls of the MONOLITH Gallery inside Sellen Hall in July 2022. Since September 2023, the smart contract and the contract deployer are labeled by Etherscan. A congratulatory message citing the virtual exhibition hall was posted by the .ART web domains registry on two social media networks in February 2024.

4.3. Blockchain Records

The blockchain publication of the collection was achieved with the creation of an eponymous smart contract in August 2022. This was followed by the registration of awalkaday.art as an Ethereum domain in September 2022. About half a year later, 263 WALK tokens were minted on Ethereum in February 2023, marking a significant moment in the on-chain history of awalkaday.art.

In the virtual realm of digital art platforms, the artist has created a profile on behalf of his work and listed artworks on Coinbase NFT, Foundation, Rightclick, The Hug and Zora in the second half of 2023. As a creative coder, he will participate in ETHGlobal Brussels, a software tournament focused on Ethereum, in July 2024.

5. Evolution of a Pixelated Trek on Platforms

5.1. Instagram

Since July 2017

Instagram enables users to showcase their creativity and connect through imagery and visual storytelling. The monochrome photographs were originally posted on Instagram by @walk.day (managed by @iamdaqhris), on an almost daily basis, continuously for years, with shooting geolocation attached and platform timestamp appended.

5.2. GitHub

Since November 2017

GitHub offers a collaborative environment to programmers in addition to version control and project management tools. The underlying source code for the awalkaday.art Photo Collection is hosted and runs on GitHub, where all changes can be tracked and audited. The public code repositories, available in Git format, contain all commits and code changes from day one of the project at github.com/awalkaday.

5.3. Web Gallery

Since May 2021

After the project resumed, the photos started being uploaded to a purpose-built web gallery, awalkaday.art, which hosts a catalog of 263 photographs from the collection in a custom-designed, interactive and responsive gallery. It prioritises a smooth and random order of display for each visit, allowing for ease of navigation and discovery of photographs. A 3D exhibition hall has also been set up to welcome all virtual visitors at oncyber.io/awalkaday.art.

5.4. X (Twitter)

Since November 2021

X allows users to share short-form media works and fosters real-time engagement in public conversations. News and viewpoints related to the photo collection are broadcast on X, where the artist posting via @awalkadayart connects with a diverse audience and builds relationships with fellow artists and collectors.

5.5. Ethereum

Since August 2022

For the final leg of a trek on digital platforms, daqhris.eth (0xb5ee030c71e76C3E03B2A8d425dBb9B395037C82) minted 263 photographs, miraculously recovered after a chaotic wintertime, and preserved for the long run as non-fungible ERC-721 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum is a decentralised blockchain platform that allows developers to create and deploy self-executing code in the form of smart contracts and applications. The artworks were wrapped in the awalkaday.art Smart Contract and self-published on a public blockchain, where they can be verified, collected and exchanged. The smart contract address is 0xE31801C2E58b151C3deD2cB29dA56147b7f27eB1.

The monochromatic sightings were assembled, named and minted during a winter's stay as a homeless man in the Palais des Droits, a former financial office building which had been converted into a squalid squat in Brussels. He was able to safeguard them on a state-of-the-art blockchain on a Valentine's Day in 2023, fortunately one day before a planned eviction from the infamous shelter. After landing on a blockchain terrain, each photo began to carry a name in the form of a logbook, recording the artistic theme awalkaday, the day of the year, and the year it was first dropped online (example: awalkaday 185-2022).

6. Artist's Proofs and Ethos

6.1. Public Git Commits

Git commits represent snapshots of code changes in a version control system. Each commit captures modifications made by its developer(s). The commits are bound together by a cryptographic signature and organised in a linear sequence within a tiny digital file. This art project involves treating the creative process like a series of iterative steps (akin to Git commits). Just as an artist refines their work through proofs, the project may evolve incrementally, leaving a trace of its development.

The oldest GitHub-based commits written and signed by daqhris date back to February 2016. They may be seen as the remnants of an extracurricular passion that infused an innovative spirit into a student's life in the East, spent crossing over the Great Firewall of China and bypassing man-made virtual walls through private tunnels to wave hello to the world.

Much earlier fragments of his public coding blocks were likely archived inside the GitHub-sponsored Arctic Code Vault in February 2020, among notable human-crafted software works, for over a thousand years. Looking way back, an initial foray into GitHub in May 2011, at the age of nineteen in Bujumbura, Burundi (Africa), seems comparable to planting a seed of innovation in the fertile soil of a burgeoning digital platform. That seed has since blossomed into a time-stamped odyssey rooted in cyberspace and grounded on Belgian soil — awalkaday.art.

6.2. Open Source Software

An open-source ethos which embodies principles such as transparency, collaboration, and community-driven development has been embraced with open arms. To gain exposure to software-driven innovation, Chris-Armel (daqhris) has been an active contributor to the Free and Open Source Software Developer Conference in Brussels every year since 2020. It enables him to remain connected with the European software developer community, despite lacking the right to attend university or work professionally in the field.

As a volunteer, one of his memorable acts was standing on stage to introduce a talk about 'Open Source Software at NASA', presented by an American astronomer, in front of a packed amphitheater in February 2023. In the coming days, he plans to write an online book that will shine a light on various aspects of his Git-enabled artistic practice and will be powered by a technical documentation tool, GitBook.

7. Artist Profile

7. 1. Human Identity

Chris-Armel (daqhris) is the photographer and software developer behind the digital life of the awalkaday.art Photography Collection. He was born in Burundi (1992) and currently lives in Belgium.

7. 2. Training Ground

Chris started learning photography as a self-taught enthusiast during the early years of Instagram, around 2013. At the time, he was studying computer science and engineering and working part-time in the film industry in Beijing, China. His style combines traditional photography techniques with digital editing tools. The photographs are monochrome, with a 1:1 aspect ratio, and capture the timeless charm of the Belgian landscape.

7. 3. Inception Story

During the summer of 2017, Chris resided in a Red Cross camp for asylum seekers in Namur, Belgium. To combat prolonged boredom and physical inactivity, he combined skills in black-and-white photography, visual design, and software coding to create a project. Using his photographic skills, he documented a journey of living in a country of refuge after being persecuted by the authorities of his homeland while abroad and their Chinese counterparts.

After six months of posting on Instagram and coding on GitHub, the project was put on hold due to the loss of electronic equipment following a theft in the refugee camp. Three years later, in 2021, it was relaunched as a part-time artistic project, even though his legal status and human life as an immigrant remained uncertain, hopeless, angst-inducing and precarious. To find out more, read his biography online at daqhris.com/about.

8. Contact

Thank you for your time and interest in this series of photographs. If you have any questions or comments about the collection, please don't hesitate to reach out. Get in touch with @awalkadayart on X or send an email to [email protected].