Posted on Oct 27, 2023Read on

[Thursday Thoughties] Slow-Release Art

Thursday Thoughties [2023 Oct 26]

Listening to: “Rejoice & Everybody Does - CARDINAL SESSIONS“ by Julien Baker Drinking: Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge (Flemish Sour Ale) by Brouwerij Omer Vander Ghinste (Belgium)

I’m pretty sure I have one of the best jobs on planet earth.

For those of you who may not know, I’ve worked at Nifty Gateway for almost three years. In that time I’ve had the great fortune to work with the world’s premier artists (as well as brands like Starbucks more recently) conceptualizing, ideating, advising, structuring, and launching collections of digital art that’ve grossed nearly $300M in primary market sales.

In between drop days you’ll find me on a waterfall of calls with artists.

And just to put as fine a point on it as possible, artist calls are the BEST. Especially when I talk with any of the artists I’ve known (and collected) for years and years going back to my days at Cent, the legendary old crypto-powered home for tinkerers, builders and artists that I helped co-found.

Sarah Zucker, a powerful artist who creates future art using withered technologies like VHS and old tube TVs, is one of those artists I love, love, love hopping on calls with. Every call with Sarah is like a shot of NZT-48; afterwards everything just makes sense.

A couple of days ago we jumped on another of those calls and we talked about a lot, including, as we often do on many of our calls, the great Matt Kane. Specifically, we talked about his two latest multi-layered releases: Anons.Art & Contractual Obligations.

While we were analyzing and thinking through Matt’s wizadry with his latest projects, I was very profoundly struck by one seemingly mundane aspect I hadn’t really thought through until then (or seen anyone mention for that matter): the intentionally slow, staggered batch schedule - a release format I’ve started calling ‘slow-release’ art - that Matt is releasing Anons/Multitudes.

As of this writing only 45 works including original portraits and their Multitudes (which will one day total in the hundreds according to Matt) have been released in two chapters since September 19th.

A major reason why I was struck such as I was by the ‘slow-release’ format is two-fold.

First off, it’s a novel approach that I don’t think I’ve seen others employ in the way he has (i.e. Matt created a bespoke webpage that will serve as the collection home for every new batch release minted from the ANONS minting smart contract). It’s not being released on another marketplace or on his old website - it’s a new stage where collectors will gather every few weeks for at least a half a year if not much longer. Subtle, yet significantly different from how most everyone releases new work or projects.

Second of all, the slow-release format is designed to reinforce the magnetic pull that’s become a signature trait of work that Matt has been able to imbue across previous collections of his that all have the same result: bringing the viewer back to his work over and over across time.

For example, Right Place & Right Time (2020) brings people back to see the new daily volatility art based on the always-on nature of Bitcoin and the constantly fluctuating 24hr price; Gazers (2021) is series of living art works that evolve every second and across lunation cycle; The Door (2021) is a series of 27 artworks (incl. Detours) that were all pre-minted but let to market via reserve auctions, buy-now prices, or other means over time; Proof of Origin - Picture of the Planets (1985-2023) is a series of living art works that see a new star added every month (and probably contain many many more easter eggs that will manifest over time); and Contractual Obligations (2023) is itself a multi-act performance that is still unfolding bringing viewers back with each subsequent act.

And what’s the result of bringing folks back to a single collection over and over? I think I put it nicely in this tweet from a few days ago:

Other Thursday Bitties

  • Everyone loves to fade the NYTimes for their bias and when they make major editorial fuck ups (as was the case the other week when they used straight up Hamas propaganda to inform a major(ly misleading) headline) - no argument from me there - but I do have to say I’m still a subscriber to the NYTimes, but ONLY because of their NYTimes Audio offering. It’s a standalone app (only for iOS, still) but my go-to for audio podcasts these days. The Daily and more recently The Headlines (which has converted temporarily to focus on succinct but potent boots-on-the-ground updates of the Israel-Hamas War) are everyday must-listens. There is something about the audio element that helps cut through the bullshit of bias that print seems incapable of.

  • Async Art announced they will wind down their venture by years end. Check out this tweet from NFT NOW that highlights many - but not all - noteworthy collections released on Async over the years.

  • If you’re looking for a laugh check out this tweet parodying (with some cutting accuracy) what it must feel like to be a new art collector joining our space.


Cover Image: Right Place & Right Time - Bitcoin Volatility Art [May 5, 2021] (2021) by Matt Kane

Recommended Reading