Originally minted as an ERC-20 token on R.A.R.E. ART LABS on September 26, 2018, Proof of Work was the genesis artwork that would grow to become a well known artwork of the early ETH NFT movement.

Digging for NFT Gold

Over the years, there have been sleuth collectors in the crypto art community who are very good about researching Ethereum smart contracts, HASH that hold image link information and bread crumb trails that help piece together what was happening years ago on R.A.R.E ART LABS. One such collector is NooNe.

NooNe explains his trip down this early crypto art rabbit hole to find evidence of the genesis Proof of Work artwork token.

“When I found out that some of the pieces from RARE Art were possibly unsold and locked in the smart contracts or burnt, I immediately started a quest to understand what treasures had been lost forever. I explored all the different pieces in the main wallet and tracked if any of my favorite artists minted in the marketplace; I found multiple pieces from XCOPY and Hackatao; my head was about to explode! I thought it could not get more exciting at this point, but I was wrong! I did not find any mints from one of the artists that I admire the most: Coldie! I went onto the RARE Art discord hoping to find something there and so I did – scrolling through the conversations between OG artists, there was what seemed to be one of the very early Proof of Work by Coldie. It felt incredible to discover a master piece that NooNe knew about, a hidden gem trapped in space and time!P.S: I have been since lucky enough to purchase the physical peace of the unsold NFT.”

July 29, 2018 on R.A.R.E. ART LABS

The Backstory

I grew up in the gold country of Northern California. All my life I was surrounded by gold rush culture and references to what took place all around the town I grew up in. Part of this included going to the site of where gold was found in Coloma, CA. The energy and history of places like this has always resonated with me, and to this day I feel a deep connection with gold rush history.

Around 2012 I was getting into spray painting and wheatpaste art which is a process of using a glue-like materials to plaster paper artwork on walls much like street artists like Shepard Fairey are known for. One of the first I made for this was a gold miner with a gasmask on. At that time, cryptocurrency had not been introduced to me, but the basis of the idea of toxicity and mining had been formed. This is the only photograph I have of the original art wheatpasted under the freeway in the drainage tunnels. The gas mask  and gold in pan are covered in glow in the dark paint, so it will shine forever in the dark.

It has since been locked up due to homeless people digging for gold  and eating away the sides of the tunnel that were not concrete, which I think is totally rad they were looking for gold down there. So now this artwork will be in a living time capsule forever.

The Original Image

Photograph byL. C. McClure, 1850 ‘A forty-niner peers into the slit of California’s American River.‘

This image is a cornerstone of gold rush culture and variations of it surrounded me as a child. From the gold mining store in town, to the car dealership, to the coffee stop, this photo has become synonimous with my early childhood surrounding. Given this image is public domain (wiki link) and able to be used freely for art, it was amazing to give honor to this figure in my crypto art.

Crypto bringing it all together

When i found out about crypto art in early 2018, it clicked soon there after that this was a fractal we are experiencing. The gold miners are the same as the mining rigs. The gold pan was doing the same work in the water as the rig was doing to figure out the next block of proof of work blockchains.

The addition of the gasmask with the USD $ symbol played perfect with the original mask concept that at the time was a reference to the toxic chemtrails.

The genesis was tokenized on R.A.R.E. Art Labs prior to the minting on SuperRare. This was one of my first experiements about how to do variant series. The genesis is the OFFICIAL token and animated MP4 video. The two variants being static images with unique colors for the water.

Proof of Work - Variant 01 - Purple

1/1 on SuperRare LINK
Owner: Moderats

Proof of Work - Variant 02 - Yellow

1/1 on SuperRare LINK
Owner: 1Confirmation Fund

The BURN Event

On October 30, 2019 I made the decision to burn all tokens on R.A.R.E Art Labs that had not been sold. This came in response to the platform changing their sales commission to 40% as well as being ERC-20 tokens that were not the now adopted ERC-721 standard.

The major reason I did this was to also protect my early collectors who had supported me early. By burning all other supply, several of the editions sold 1 or 2 piece. These were now WAY more scarce and more valuable.

‘Proof of Work, 2018’ did not sell any editions, so when I burnt the tokens, it allowed me the opportunity to tokenize in the future.

Screenshot from R.A.R.E Art Labs report to me showing zero sales and associated hash and address information.

Mining the File From 2018.

Over the last 3 years, I have thought about this piece a lot. I remember how it never sold and how after that, varients have become sought after by collectors. It was always the plan to release this when the time was right. I’m not sure there is ever a RIGHT time, but now feels good.

So that created a new challenge.

Find the original MP4 video file used to tokenize originally in 2018. I had a feeling (or hope) that it was on my old desktop computer as that was where I was creating back then. The desktop had since become more of a shelf than a used machine.

Just like a gold miner would, I started digging.

After looking through 3 huge harddrives on the desktop, it was nowhere to be found. I started to get a little freaked out. Then, I went through my archive project drives that hold most of my past art and NFTs. Again, no luck. Now I was really getting antsy.

After 6 hard drives and now getting anxiety that I had possibly LOST the Proof of Work files, I saw an external drive sitting on a shelf. It was as if it was winking at me. Like “hey, over here” and I plugged it in. The drive was a hoge poge of files, like a transfer station for a bunch of stuff that didnt have a home.

I started digging deep into the folder structure, looking for a vein that would lead me to the motherload I was looking for. I started to get a good feeling when I saw some other other art files from that timeframe. THEN....I SAW IT!


I started screaming and jumping up and down. Just as if I was a prospector in the gold rush who had just found a nugget in the gold pan. The symbolism of this whole experience was so amazing to go through and really adds a lot of meaning to the re-release of this piece of crypto art.

Proof of Work lives on.

Following the inital release of this series, there have been several releases to follow in the series. I was always very careful to honor the genesis piece and never make a version that would be close to it.

Bringing it Full Circle.

Coming back to my roots on this one is super important because it honors where this all started. I hope reading this helped inform you about the story of this crypto art series and how it came from being a graffiti pasteup to becoming a well know NFT and part of crypto art history.