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Two-piece evening gown consisting of gown and train

This is artwork is created in a collaboration between Stephan Duquesnoy and Studio PMS ( http://www.studiopms.nl/ ) Studio PMS was tasked by the Centraal Museum Utrecht to create a digital version of a gown that is in the historic fashion archive of the museum. After the creation of the 3D dress, they approached Stephan Duquesnoy to use the digital archival version, and portray it using his own vision.

The final artwork is an unique NFT that shows the gown in a romanticized vision of the Netherlands in 1905. Throughout the day we can subtly see the colors and light changing as time progresses.  

The artwork will be exhibited at the Central Museum in Utrecht from the 23rd of April until the 19th of June as part of the “From Pattern to Polygon” exhibition.

The original gown

The original velvet gown, with a generous train and trimmed with gold lace, was originally worn by Lady Henriette van de Poll (1853-1946), who was lady-in-waiting to Queen Emma from 1880 to 1934. This velvet gown was created by the famous Madame van der Taelen from Bruxelles. 

One of the special qualities of the dress is that the fabric color is susceptible to light changes. It can go from a dark forest green dress, to a very bright green dress depending on the light conditions. So seeing the dress once, doesn’t really do it justice, the context that the dress is presented in matters. Hence the idea was born to make an NFT that shows the dress in all the different colors it can be perceived with.

The actual gown is ageing, and requires specific conditions to be displayed, there will be a point in the future that this small part of history will vanish. But the dress can keep existing on the blockchain in its own frozen time bubble.

View the original dress on the Centraal Museum archive page 

The NFT 

The gown was recreated as a high quality 3D model by Studio PMS, using photographic images. Stephan Duquesnoy provided the context for the gown by adding the character, and the environment, the NFT concept and finished it off with high  material design and 3D rendering.

The NFT has a total of 2400 frames. The smart contract calculates the current time, and has a hardcoded weather dataset. Whenever the metadata is requested, the image changes based on the combination of time/date and weather. Several factors influence the final weather

Time of day 

The first one is the day/night cycle. It works with an estimation of dusk and dawn based on the geolocation of the Netherlands. So daytime in winter is short, and daytime in summer is long. This also means that people in Europe generally see the daytime, while Asia sees the night

Weather

Another variable is weather. In the Netherlands the majority of our days are cloudy, with occasional sunny or stormy days. There are 4 weather states that influence the light so it is in line with how the light changes based upon clouds. The rarest occurrences are the storm days, and clear nights.

Seasonal

Finally, the color palette is changed every month. Summers are more warm and greenish, while winters are desaturated with cool tints.


When all these different variables come together we get an artwork that is alive and always changing. We might not catch the changes moment to moment, you can stare an hour at it, and it feels like nothing happens. But if we let the artwork live on it’s own, and we just occasionally throw a look in it’s direction, the changes are significant.

Visual Language

The visuals in the work are inspired by the 1900’s Art & Craft movement. This movement put focus on creating artisan work, instead of cheap, mass-manufactured goods. At the moment digital artists are slowly finding their own arts & craft moment, as they are finding ways to create their work without a reliance on large commercial projects where digital work usually dominates. NFT opened the door in 2021 for many digital artists to make their own path and their own projects. The design elements used references important Arts & Craft designers such as William Morris and Louis Sullivan, to underline that this century old philosophy still matters for digital creators and has a place within modern forms of art.