Bitcoin block art? Marathon showcases visualization potential of block building

A Bitcoin Core contributor has immortalized Marathon Digital’s logo into the data visualization of a Bitcoin block by using the mining firm’s template building tools.

X user Portland.HODL laid claim to the intriguing piece of “block art”, a custom graphic crafted by ordering transactions in a block that can be then seen on Bitcoin indexer website. Blockchain indexers visualize bitcoin transactions using square blocks and color gradients based on transaction sizes and fee rates.

Marathon Digital shared details of block 836361 which it successfully mined on March 26. The firm dubbed it the M block and wanted the visualization to demonstrate its template building capabilities and technology stack.

Source: Marathon Digital

The company explained that by owning its mining pool, it can craft the order of transactions to create a form of block art. While not offering this specific output capability as a service, the mining company speculated that this could present a wave of creative potential not yet explored in the Bitcoin space.

Related: Bitcoin halving will be a litmus test for inefficient ops: Mining execs

Marathon also noted that the Bitcoin network should exclude blocks from full pay-per-share (FPPS) calculations to ensure more accurate miner fee estimates. This is to avoid any effect that Marathon’s experiments might have on network fees.

Portland.HODL claims to have successfully crafted the block’s visualization through a long process of trial and error.

Source: Portland.HODL

The process of creating this block art made use of OP_RETURN transactions in the Bitcoin protocol. This is a type of transaction that allows for a small amount of arbitrary data to be included in a transaction.

The data is typically used for embedding messages or metadata onchain. If a user carefully crafts the content of these OP_RETURN transactions and orders them correctly, an image or pattern emerges when the block data is visualized.

Before a block is mined, all transactions wait in an area called the mempool. A miner can create numerous transactions to generate this kind of art once mined into a block. They would develop transactions with outputs that, when visualized, correspond to the pixels of the desired image.

Creating block art would also require a miner to modify their software to select specific transactions that will form the desired pattern instead of prioritizing transactions that maximize profit based on the fee density or satoshis per byte.

Related: Wall Street funding has changed Bitcoin mining’s incentive structure: Report

There is also the rest of the network to contend with. Mining a block with a specific set of transactions that will form an image or text, requires significant hashing power like that of Marathon.

Cointelegraph has reached out to Marathon and Portland.HODL for further details on the “M block” and the ramifications of block composability.

According to Bitcoin Gandalf, the total feeds paid to get the desired output was $122,524, which Marathon paid itself.

The X user, previously worked at Braiins mining, each colored square represents a transaction in the block and its associated fee. The block is constructed to create an image through the mempool space block visualizer.

Why did Marathon Digital Holdings’ MARA Pool just mine a block with their logo on it? I’ll get to that, but first here’s some things I haven’t seen anyone talk about yet. Each coloured square represents a transaction in the block. To achieve this visual effect, the block was constructed with the mempool space block visualiser in mind. The different colours are achieved by including different fees in each transaction. All the transactions were for 0 BTC Fees paid for each of those squares: – Green = $0.08 – Orange = $11.21 – Maroon = $149.46 Total fees paid = $122,542 But that doesn’t matter because Marathon paid these fees to itself. So, why did they this? For marketing/attention purposes. And it has worked beautifully because any press is good press… 

Marathon launched a direct BTC transaction submission service in February 2024 designed to facilitate and speed up large and complex Bitcoin transactions.

Magazine: Big Questions: How can Bitcoin payments stage a comeback?

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