Web, 2023

Web is a network spawned in the dark, resting within a smart contract waiting to be explored. It is a performance of the Internet itself, a non-linear choreography of a thousand webpages. The pages are expressed as raw HTML structures, empty from content. Some feel vaguely familiar, as if we remember visiting them in the past, some come straight from the depth of the machine.

Web is not a utility, but an expression of the machine. Wandering it suggests a forsaken usage and navigability, but it is just an echo of information architecture crafted with the cold introvert yet careful handling of the machine, leaving you getting lost and walking in circles.

Web is a monument to the hyperlink, a poem dedicated to machine learning and a computer's dérive within itself.

Jan Robert Leegte - www.leegte.org

How is it made

Web is a fully on-chain generative cross-linked network of 1000 webpages on Ethereum mainnet. All pages and the links between them are generated and form a deterministic universe. Each HTML webpage is unique in color and composition as well as the position within the network. Each page has a unique title which is an anagram of 'Document'. The favicon is a uniquely generated icon using the color palette of the page. Through triangulating distances between the pages based on their properties, links are generated to pages in proximity.

The holistic beauty is that the code that runs in each token contains the DNA of every page and link in the whole network. A single NFT could recreate the whole web.

Lifecycle Web

Users are invited to explore Web. A single webpage is the entry point. The interface includes a map page that will gradually reveal the pages discovered by the public. Also, the interface lets you add bookmarks of pages you find interesting. Over the period of a week, Web can be fully explored by communal effort.

A one hour dutch auction will follow on 20 September 2023. During this hour anyone can mint their favourite page(s).

Minting will secure the actual HTML webpage fully on-chain, which is the work. A screen captured thumbnail image will be stored in IPFS for marketplace purposes.

Read all about minting specifics and any other questions in FAQ under the [?] button!

After the auction web.leegte.org will remain online for visitors to continue to explore and wander through Web. The individual mints in marketplaces will have the linking disabled, but will be the full HTML pages.
The contract will function as API, so in the future any layer can be built on top of Web, to re-interface the network (similar to the Hypercastle of Terraforms). This way if web.leegte.org will ever cease to exist, anyone can create an interface to view Web.

How it began

The first idea of Web originated in 2020 as an angle in my work of using AI as artistic medium. The simple initial thought was to use machine learning to generate linked HTML pages and by this create and populate a machine-made web. By doing this the vacuum that web 2.0 had brought in web 1.0 so aptly expressed in Constant Dullaart's The Death of the URL (2013) would be claimed by the network itself. In the age of AI, with the infinite flow of content on the socials, the machine would start to populate the abandoned web.

As a web3 layer, I loved the idea that this invisible machine-generated web, could be explored and discovered by users, akin to how newly generated game worlds are explored, who would then have the option to plant a flag and own any of these webpages.

In the same year I shared the idea with Casper Schipper, who was teaching AI at the Design Art Technology department of art academy ArtEZ who offered to help me with the AI side. It took another two years before we really started working on it in 2022. Casper had since then joined the team of Superposition, and brought in Bram Bogaerts and Robin Smits to the team.


We wanted to generate HTML/CSS layouts using AI, and initially started working with GPT-3 and later with chatGPT to output HTML code. The problem was that chatGPT only has existing web layouts to work with resulting in really bland output. AI needs occurrence to recognise patterns, therefor it excels at normalisation. To expect weird experimental expressions is outside of its scope. We all have seen a lot of weirdness in image generation. Because image data are fields of pixels, AI will look for patterns within this field. Figuration is an emergent layer on top of the actual pixel fields and therefor figuration born from these patterns can look very unfamiliar.

Code is language, and is seen on the same level of the pixel field by AI. Therefor the texts of chatGPT are excellent, but not particularly weird. Code, being a utility language to communicate with the logic of the computer, is even more restricted. ChatGPT only knows examples of web layouts and can therefor recreate them really well. Creating output that is out of the box is therefore hard.

To solve this, we started stacking many different AI methods, text generation, image generation, image analysis, code generation based on image and text data, etc.

It was in 2022 that I got in contact with Fingerprints to do a Studio drop, and I proposed Web. They loved how it pushed boundaries in fusing web 1.0, web3 and AI and we decided to work together. Initially we worked on an IPFS stored output of AI api calls, but I wasn't that enthusiastic of the results of the AI and also I didn't feel happy with IPFS. It was during discussions with the Fingerprints team that the idea came to shift it to a fully on-chain project.

At this point Jake Allen joined the team as Solidity developer, who I knew from working together on Ornament, my genesis drop.

To move fully on-chain, meant letting go of AI generated content, as it would demand too much data to be uploaded to the tokens and we set off creating a fully deterministic generative web inspired by the AI research we had done.

Related projects

My work often focusses on the materiality of software, omitting content. But for direct inspiration I looked back at a series of 'netsquats' I made in 2000. For that I copied the source of a series of websites back then and chopped out all content by hand, often leaving traces of the presence of old content.

Also a shout out to 'The Web Stalker' from I/O/D. A work that inspired me back in the day of web1, and Terraforms by Mathcastles, a web3 project that proved it was possible to make a network within a smart contract. But most of all the www itself.

The team

Coproduction with: Superposition (Casper Schipper, Bram Bogaerts and Robin Smits)

Blockchain development: Jake Allen

Publishing house: Fingerprints Studio

About Superposition

In Superpositions's work, they explore possible digital realities rooted in unstable interactive systems. These explorations open worlds that seem natural and organic but are distinctly digital and autonomous. They bring this same philosophy into their client-based projects.

See their latest projects at instagram.com/superposition.cc/

About myself

Since 1997 I have been making art on the Internet in the form of websites and digital-related work, resulting in websites, apps, installations, videos, prints, sculptures, audio works and drawings. The networked computer is the central muse in my work, exploring all its wonders and peculiarities.

I don't use software to make art, I make art about software.

My work has been exhibited at The Whitechapel Gallery, Centre Pompidou, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, van Gogh Museum, ZKM and the Ludwig Museum and acquired by various private and institutional collections. This is my seventh NFT collection after Ornament, Window, JPEG, Broken Images, Buttons and Coin.

Check out my work at www.leegte.org.

My work is represented by Upstream Gallery Amsterdam.


When is the auction?

On 20th of September at 9am PST / 12pm EST / 6PM CEST, the auction will start. It will last for exactly 1 hour.

How much ETH?

It will be an dutch auction starting at 1.0 ETH and declining exponentially, easing out at 0.1 ETH. The auction will be exactly 1 hour, with no rebate.
A classic dutch auction has been chosen to not have gas wars decide on who gets their favorite page, but the one who mints first for the highest price. There is no rebate for this reason.

What chain?

Web is on Ethereum mainnet.

What is the collection size?

Web contains a 1000 webpages waiting to be explored. The auction will end either if all 1000 pages are explored and minted or after exactly one hour. After that the contract will be locked and no further pages can be minted. The total collection size can therefor reach a maximum of 1,000 pages.

Where is the auction?

Minting can be done directly in the interface of web.leegte.org.
An hour before auction the Connect button will appear so you can prepare your wallet. On start of auction, the Mint buttons will also appear.
There will be two ways of minting:
Click on the Mint button, which will mint the current page you're on. This is useful for minting your bookmarks. You can easily switch between them in your bookmarks.
There will also be a Mint Random button, for those who simply want an NFT from this collection without the exploration. You can add an amount to the mint random button to mint multiple at once.
Also you can mint directly from the smart contract using the page ID in the URL.

How do I navigate Web?

You can wander the web by interacting with the pages.

  • Broken image icons relate to color.
  • Select boxes and radio buttons navigate you through the complexity of the composition.
  • Text fields and buttons are doors to wander the coverage of the pages.

You can combine looking at the map with these suggestions, but be prepared to get lost and disorientated.

What is the map?

The map can be accessed by clicking on the Web button.

It will give you insight into the progress made by communal discovery of Web. By outlining certain icons, it also shows you your bookmarks (purple), the current page (white) and premints (golden). The outgoing links from the current page are also displayed.

The page is purely a visualisation, to navigate Web, you need to go back to the pages, where the hyperlinks are and keep wandering.

How to use bookmarks?

To help you keep track of pages you like, you can bookmark them. Add or remove with the Bookmark button. Click on the List button to view your saved bookmarks. By interacting with your bookmarks in the list, you can navigate to them directly. Useful when the auction is live!

Bookmarks do not guarantee a mint! In the auction the first to mint gets the NFT.

Artist's Proof & premints

15 NFTs will be preminted for the collection of Fingerprints and for the collections of the team. These will be reserved and minted prior to the auction. You can stumble upon them while wandering Web, they will have a special golden marking, so you know you can't mint them.