The Breakthroughs in Storytelling Awards, Summit and Symposium honor the most innovative approaches to narrative from the past year.

The Breakthroughs in Storytelling Awards, Summit and Symposium honor the most innovative approaches to narrative from the past year.


Sutu, aka Stuart Campbell, and EyeJack
AR, Blockchain, Web3
Australia/United States
April 2022, TED

“I saw this huge paradigm shift in the creator economy and realised I needed to take this way more seriously. Then, I dove all the way in.” —Sutu

The Sutuverse is a web-based 3-D world that is home to interactive art experiences created by the Australian artist Sutu. It is as expansive and eccentric as Sutu himself—an evolving world, a Web3 playground in which you can explore the possibilities of NFT-powered interactive experiences. At this point it contains only the Lobby and the Circuit Breaker game, which Sutu premiered in beta form in July 2022 at the Proof of People exhibition at Fabric in London. More experiences will be unlocked in the future.

The initial project of the Sutuverse was Neonz, a limited collection of 10,000 unique retro-futurist avatars that were randomly generated from futuristic neon character art created by Sutu. The project launched in 2021 as a Web3 native IP set to define the Metaverse era and sold out in 31 minutes. Each avatar generated includes hand-drawn static and animated art rooted in cyberculture, harking back to the early days of video games when we were all first asked to "Choose your player." Among their character traits are unique headgear, face paint, clothing, masks and glasses. All of these traits will be pivotal for navigating the Sutuverse. Each avatar design features hand drawn frame by frame animation and futuristic motifs suggesting the avatars might have powers unique to the Metaverse environment and not bound to the laws of our physical world.

A Neonz is sold as an NFT. Once you own a Neonz, you can stare at it for hours and be dazzled by its mesmerizing animation. You can also use it to unlock experiences in the Sutuverse. "Neonz Signz" and "Neonz Facez" became the first installments of the AR Sutuverse. They combine Web3 with AR to dynamically load any one of the 10,000 Neonz in real time. Neonz Signz allows 2D Neonz to light up the real world as interactive neon signs, while Neonz Facez allows Neonz holders to wear their Neonz as an AR face filter.

In January 2022, Superchief LA debuted its NFT Gallery—the largest in the world—with "Choose Your Player," a solo exhibition of 32 animated digital avatars by Sutu. Superchief presented these Neonz as Sutu's own take on the PFP (Picture for Profile) model that was gaining popularity in the metaverse. The exhibition was part of the official programming of NFT|LA, an event created to bring together the people who are creating the Web3 future.

Sutu, aka Stuart Campbell, is an Australian multi-disciplinary artist currently living in Los Angeles. He has been commissioned by the likes of Marvel, Google and Disney to create VR art for such properties as Doctor Strange and Ready Player One. He has created four VR documentaries—Inside Manus for Australia's Special Broadcasting Service, Mind at War for Ryot Films, The Battle of Hamel for the Australian War Memorial and Future Dreaming for Australia's National Indigenous Television. His VR trilogy Legends of the Brush was set to premier at SXSW 2020 before the festival was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sutu is also known for his interactive comics, including These Memories Won’t Last, an HTML5 webcomic which was named to the 2017 Digital Dozen and nominated for a Will Eisner Award, and Neomad, created in collaboration with a community of aboriginal youth in Western Australia and recently adapted for Australian television. A 2017 Sundance Fellow, he holds an Honorary Doctorate of Digital Media from Central Queensland University. In 2016 he partnered with AR pioneer Lukasz Karluk to co-found the groundbreaking augmented reality studio EyeJack, a platform for the curation and distribution of AR art. In 2022 EyeJack evolved into a multidisciplinary immersive art production company, offering a myriad of experiences for individuals, conferences, functions, festivals, events, space activations and more.

Neonz NFTs are minted on Tezos, an energy-efficient “proof-of-stake” blockchain that consumes far less energy than “proof-of-work” blockchains like Ethereum and Bitcoin. Tezos serves as an open-source platform for assets and applications and can evolve by upgrading itself without having to fork into two different blockchains. This is important because the suggestion or expectation of a fork can divide the community, alter stakeholder incentives, and disrupt the network effects that are formed over time. Because of self-amendment, coordination and execution costs for protocol upgrades are reduced and future innovations can be seamlessly implemented.

All Tezos stakeholders can participate in governing the protocol via the election cycle, which provides a formal and systematic procedure for stakeholders to reach agreement on proposed protocol amendments. By combining this on-chain mechanism with self-amendment, Tezos can adopt better governance mechanisms when they are discovered.

Proposed amendments that are accepted by stakeholders can include payment to individuals or groups that improve the protocol. This funding mechanism is designed to encourage robust participation and decentralize the maintenance of the network. Fostering an active, open, and diverse developer ecosystem that is incentivized to contribute to the protocol should facilitate Tezos development and adoption.

Tezos provides a platform to create smart contracts and build decentralized applications that cannot be censored or shut down by third parties. Furthermore, Tezos facilitates formal verification, a technique used to improve security by mathematically proving properties about programs such as smart contracts. This technique, if used properly, can help avoid costly bugs and the contentious debates that follow.

Participants (“nodes”) in decentralized, peer-to-peer networks such as Tezos provide the computational resources required to keep the network up and running. Proof-of-Stake (PoS) is the mechanism by which the various participants in Tezos reach consensus on the state of the blockchain. PoS is less costly than other consensus mechanisms and lowers the barriers to entry for involvement. Any stakeholder in Tezos can participate in the consensus process and be rewarded by the protocol itself for contributing to the security and stability of the network.

The next installment of the Sutuverse was Circuit Breaker, a speedrun game that was built using WebGL—Web Graphics Library, a JavaScript API for rendering high-performance interactive 3D and 2D graphics. Officially launched on October 1, 2022, Circuit Breaker is an interactive world that uses the power of the Neonz NFTs to unlock gameplay, prizes, Neonz lore and more. Players can sprint through a neon maze of obstacles, corridors and moving platforms and activate hidden dimensions to seek out the fastest time. They can have their time immortalized on the community leaderboard and are encouraged to train for an upcoming tournament.

Sutu introduced the Sutuverse to the wider world in an April 2022 TED talk in which he said the promise of the metaverse extends far beyond digital spaces—it can transform and enrich how we experience the material world as well. From video games that bring communities together to digital art that collides with physical spaces, Sutu shared some of the incredible creativity that's been sparked by AR metaverse technology and invited us all to participate in building its future. During his TED Talk, he invited his audience of 1,500 people to participate in a live, collaborative Augmented Reality artwork. Each person in the audience accessed a web interface to create a simple symmetrical drawing. Each drawing was then collated into a floating star field of animated glyphs dubbed the "Tediverse." This interactive TED experience, built by Sutu’s Sydney-based AR company EyeJack, has been described as a simple gesture towards making an accessible and welcoming Metaverse that allows us to reflect on the relationship between digital art and our physical lives.

"The new browser-based game, Circuit Breaker, is described by its creator, the artist known as Sutu, as “Mad Max meets Tron in a cyberpunk speedrun game set in the world of NEONZ. . . . In Circuit Breaker, collectors sync their Tezos crypto wallets and Neonz at, where their Neonz NFTs manifest as full body 3D avatars with unlockable powers. The NFT avatars sprint through a maze of obstacles, corridors and moving platforms, collecting ‘voltz’ to power up and activate hidden dimensions to seek out the fastest time." —Forbes

"Like many blockchain-based games, Circuit Breaker aims to solve an age-old problem within gaming: the one-sided value exchange between gamers and creators. For years, gamers have invested ample funds and hours into their favourite games, only to be left empty-handed when producers release new storylines, change the mechanics, or simply move onto the next hit. By tokenising gaming assets on a blockchain, gamers can own, retain, and even benefit from their in-game performance." —Culture3