The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) continues to delve into the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) by not only acquiring a valuable collection of tokenized artwork but also collaborating with renowned Web3 creators to reimagine classic art in novel and experimental ways. LACMA’s “Remembrance of Things Future” initiative introduces two interactive NFT collections from the pseudonymous artist Deafbeef, whose distinctive work is created using a C code compiler. Deafbeef’s Ethereum NFT project, “Noumenon + Chronophotograph,” draws inspiration from the pioneering work of 19th-century English photographer Eadweard Muybridge.
Muybridge’s motion studies, which captured chronological photo sequences like the iconic “The Horse in Motion,” played a significant role in shaping the future of film, animation, and other art forms. His work was famously referenced in Jordan Peele’s 2022 film, “Nope.” The “Remembrance of Things Future” project is a partnership between LACMA and blockchain consultancy Cactoid Labs, which granted artists such as Deafbeef complete freedom to select works from LACMA’s permanent collection that resonated with them and which they could artistically respond to.
Use only official links in Cactoid Labs Discord pic.twitter.com/jhFwqznsBq
— Cactoid Labs (@CactoidLabs) May 4, 2023
Deafbeef’s project comprises 16 unique “Noumenon” Ethereum NFTs, each featuring a minute-long animation generated from compiled C code. The artist described these monochromatic audiovisual pieces as representations of an “unknowable reality beyond our immediate senses.” The eventual owner of each Noumenon can then take or delegate another wallet to take a chronophotograph still image sequence, which becomes a separate NFT through the associated smart contract. This contract contains a unique “releaseShutter” function that generates the still snapshot.
Each Noumenon NFT can potentially create an unlimited number of chronophotographs, offering a stream of distinctive editions that can be retained or traded. However, there is a time lock that doubles after each snapshot, and each subsequent chronophotograph presents a larger, clearer, and higher-resolution still sequence. This project provided Deafbeef with not only the opportunity to explore Muybridge’s work and find connections between them but also to contemplate concepts like contrasting scales of time and the nature of truth.
Deafbeef highlighted that photography has never been an objective measurement, given the possibility of manipulated shots and the influence of human framing. This notion extends to the blockchain, which many perceive as a source of objective reference but still requires human interpretation.
A total of 224 Chronophotograph NFTs were pre-minted and will be sold for 0.2 ETH (approximately $375) each. All future Chronophotographs can be taken by the Noumenon owners or delegated wallets. The Noumenon NFTs have already been privately pre-sold, and the owners can mint as many future Chronophotographs as they desire.
In preparation for the sale, renowned artists like Art Blocks founder Erick “snowfro” Calderon, the pseudonymous XCOPY, and Jen Stark were invited to capture Chronophotographs, with their wallet addresses forever associated on-chain with the minted NFTs. LACMA is also showcasing Deafbeef’s previous works, some of which have traded for six-figure sums.
— Chronophotograph Bot (@chronophotobot) May 3, 2023
Other artists who have participated in “Remembrance of Things Future” include Stark, Monica Rizzoli, Ix Shells, Emily Xie, and Sarah Zucker, all of whom drew inspiration from existing works within LACMA’s permanent collection.