4th Word is a collection of moments in time and space. It is an ongoing work of art that documents visited places beginning in late 2021. The passage of time in a specific site is paramount to the thesis of this project. Some sites are in a constant state of change, others seem unmoving in defiance of time. Yet everything we know in the world is subject to the passage of time. When we return to a familiar place, we are not in the place we remember, but the place as it exists in the moment. The goal of 4th Word is to capture these moments and express them in a digital format that can be experienced by others. Each location in the project is scanned as a 3D model. The model is then minted into an NFT and available for purchase. The owner of the NFT can visit the time and place on a device or in a virtual reality environment.
This project assumes an understanding of the what3words mapping system. In this system the world is divided into a grid of 10-meter squares that are named by a unique combination of three words. They describe their 3-word grid as the simplest way to talk about location.
“Street addresses weren’t designed for 2021. They aren’t accurate enough to specify precise locations, such as building entrances, and don’t exist for parks and many rural areas.”
4th Word has adopted this format because of the way places are defined in memorable and relatable terms. It is difficult for someone to remember and relay GPS coordinates, but three words are more easily retained and shared with others.
This system of naming coordinates in three words is an elegant method for labeling space in the world, but it does not effectively communicate the 4th dimension, time. Einstein writes in his theory of general relativity that when giving information about a place for two parties to meet, it is insufficient to merely relay the physical coordinates. For example, if someone asked you to meet them on the third floor of a building on the corner of Main Street and 1st avenue, you would not understand where in space to meet them. If that person included 2pm, you would know exactly where in time and space to find that person.
4th Word is a designation for a specific time that builds on the what3words format. A specific place can be visited and revisited, but can change over time. This project assigns a 4th word to the three word location at the moment it was captured. It is a way to describe space in the same terms as Einstein’s example. This captured moment is then minted as an NFT to be shared and experienced by its owner.
How can someone be part of 4th Word?
The spirit and intention of 4th Word is a shared, but also collaborative experience. In the physical world, there are sometimes buried treasures. This digital representation of time and space has buried treasures as well. 4thWord is driven by the participation of other artists. There are 1000 words available to be sponsored. Once a word is chosen, it will be assigned to one of the 3D location files. The title of that file will be the 4th Word.
Sponsorship includes the opportunity to embed a digital art file, along with information about the artist. Similar to the concept of geo-caching, every 4th word has a designated space for digi-caching an art file for the owner to discover. Photos, digital illustrations, music, movies, gifs, poetry, literature, etc. Any digital form of artwork can be embedded in the NFT and is exclusively available to the owner. An artist can use this to promote their own work, or they may remain anonymous.
What is the cost of 4th Word?
Minting NFTs can be expensive, both in cost and in environmental impact. That is why 4th Word is built using the Polygon blockchain which demands only a fraction of the carbon footprint created by Ethereum-based NFTs. The future of cryptocurrency and blockchain must find a way to exist without damaging the environment and 4th Word exists only because Polygon offers a cost-efficient alternative to minting.