At Scratch Tech, we are bitcoin lovers. We are proof-of-work lovers. We are hash lovers. So we decided we had to do something cool using SHA-256! We wanted a funny yet geeky endeavor. Not something that could convince the majority of people. More something that could convince twisted degen people like us.
And then we had this idea. Let’s bruteforce images the way Bitcoin does with block hashes. Let’s change pictures so that they have a hash we define. A little bit like Bitcoin vanity addresses. Let’s apply proof-of-work to images. More broadly, let’s apply proof-of-work to digital art.
With a little bit of research, we identified our proof-of-concept: applying proof-of-work to .gif files. We defined 2 ways to bruteforce .gif images: palette proof-of-work and pixel proof-of-work. The first one, that we call “palette scratching”, is about changing one or multiple colors in the GIF palette, then applying SHA-256 and checking the hash (and iterate until the target hash is found). The second one, that we call “pixel scratching”, is about changing one or multiple pixels in the image, rezipping and applying SHA-256 and checking the hash (and iterate until the target hash is found).
If you are not a geek or Bitcoin lover, this is when you stop reading. If you are one of us, you now have a mixed feeling: a mix of “oh dude, I see, hahh cool, I like that, but you are a fcking ocean burner!” and “holy sht, if there is a market for that, I swear I’ll give my full bitcoin stack to the Federal Reserve! And my Ether stack to the Tezos foundation!”
We believe there is a market for that for multiple reasons. The first one is that digital artists are not physical artists applying the same art in another medium. There has to be new tools, dedicated to the cryptoworld that will improve the promise of crypto art. Second, by applying proof of work, we display to potential buyers an amount of work provided in order to provide the art piece. It’s not artistic work, it’s computational work, but it’s a proof anyway. Moreover, if the CPU is the artist then proof of work is proof of time to create the art piece. Therefore, it is a proof of value for NFT buyers. Third, digital artists will be able to play with hashes. With the hash being the last word of a sentence displayed in the art piece. With the hash being an artist signature that will not have to be written within the art piece. With the hash being customized for the first NFT owner.
Scratch Tech is not about proving the NFT is unique. Minting will do this through anchoring the art piece in a blockchain. Scratch Tech is not about ERC-721 or EIP-2981. Scratch Tech is not really about generative art or building collectibles for metaverses. It’s about making your art special through the leverage of cryptography. Scratch Tech is about spicing up your art after it’s completed. Scratch Tech is the final touch for your art, a drop of perfume, a nice ribbon around your art. Scratch Tech is a technology for digital artists, even for crypto-artists that want to pioneer the future of crypto-art.
Last thing about Scratch Tech : at start, we dreamt of target hashes with 20- to 25 digits. And then we built the Scratch Tech software. And then we launched our computers to hash. Thousands of hashes, millions of hashes, billions of hashes. And we realized something we anticipated theoretically but that we witnessed practically: SHA-256 is so powerful! Difficulty is rising exponentially. 20- to 25-digit hashes found in less than a year is impossible for a single team, even with very large hashing power. We would even need to repurpose ASICS hardware to target 10- to 15-digit target hashes. But today, as we launch our beta, 3- to 8-digit hashes is what we can do for files up to 10Mo. SHA-256 watches us, little ants trying to bruteforce it. Remember Bitcoin’s block 1 ? Satoshi managed to find the first block hash in a few minutes: 00000000839a8e6886ab5951d76f411475428afc90947ee320161bbf18eb6048. It was already 8 digits… but for a puny block size of 215 bytes.