LACMA goes deeper into NFT art with experimental Deafbeef collection

LACMA goes deeper into NFT art with experimental Deafbeef collection

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) took a big step into NFT world in February when it announced the acquisition of a valuable collection of tokenized artworks. But the famous art museum doesn’t just collect – it also works with famous people Web3 creators to pay tribute to classic art in new and experimental ways.

LACMA’s “Remembrance of Things to Come” the initiative continues this week with the launch of a pair of interactive NFT collections from well-known pseudonymous artist Deafbeef, who uses a C code compiler to create distinctive work. His “Noumenon + Chronophotograph” Ethereum The NFT project draws inspiration from the formative work of the English photographer Eadweard Muybridge.

19th century photographer’s movement studies through chronological photo sequences – best known “The Horse in Motion,” of a galloping horse – helped inform future film and animation, as well as other art styles. The sequences were famous referenced in Jordan Peele’s 2022 film, Nope.

“Remembrance of Things Future” is a collaboration between LACMA and blockchain consultancy Cactoid Labs. Like other participating artists, Deafbeef was given free rein to select works from LACMA’s permanent collection and find something that resonated with him—and to which he could respond, artistically.

“All the images really had an enigmatic quality to them that was familiar but mysterious. They’re part of our consciousness because these images are very familiar,” Deafbeef said Decrypt of Muybridge’s work. “I just found a wealth of interesting things and connections to really dive into.”

Eadweard Muybridge’s “Animal Locomotion” (1886). Photo: LACMA

The project focuses on 16 “Noumenon” Ethereum NFTs, each a unique minute-long animation derived from compiled C code. Deafbeef described each monochromatic audiovisual work as “representing an unknown reality beyond our immediate senses”.

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“The qualities of it visually and sonically are meant to suggest that there are lurching rhythms and time warping. It’s amorphous and fading and there are different shapes,” he continued. “It’s meant to be kind of out of your reach.”

The eventual owner of each Noumenon can then take – or delegate another wallet to take – a chronophotography still sequence that is turned into a separate NFTthanks to affiliates smart contract. A smart contract contains the code that runs NFT projects, and this contains a unique “releaseShutter” function that can be called to generate the snapshot.

A potentially infinite number of chronophotographs can be taken from each Noumenon NFT, providing a stream of unique editions that can be kept or traded. But there’s a catch: a timelock that expands exponentially, doubling after each snapshot. Interestingly, each successive chronophoto is also a larger, clearer and higher resolution still image sequence.

For Deafbeef, the project not only provided the opportunity to learn more about Muybridge’s work and discover the connections between them, but also to ponder concepts such as “contrasting time scales” and what constitutes a source of truth.

“There is this perception that photography is an objective measurement, but it never has been,” he said, noting the possibility of manipulated images and the influence of human framing. “People also have this narrative in crypto. There’s this ethos that the blockchain is truth; it’s a source of objective reference. But again, that has to be interpreted by people.”

A self-portrait by the pseudonymous artist Deafbeef. Image: Deafbeef

A total of 224 Chronophotograph NFTs were pre-minted and they will be sold for 0.2 ETH ($375) each starting today. All future chronophotos can be taken by the Noumenon owners or delegated wallets. The Noumenon NFTs were already privately pre-sold, and the eventual owners can make as many future chronographs as they want.

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Ahead of today’s sale, noted artists such as Art blocks founder Erick “snowfrog” Calderonit pseudonym XCOPYand Jen Stark were invited to take Chronophotographs, with their respective wallet addresses forever associated on-chain with minted NFT.

LACMA is also showing earlier works by Deafbeef – whose earliest NFT compositions in 2021 have changed hands for six-figure sums – in connection with the project.

Other artists who have participated in “Remembrance of Things Future” so far include Stark, Monica Rizzoli, Ix Shells, Emily Xie and Sarah Zucker, each of whom was inspired by existing works in LACMA’s permanent collection.

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