Invited to dive into the LACMA
archives, I was immediately drawn to the chronophotographic work of Eadweard Muybridge. In the 19th century, he developed new techniques to enable serial photography of people and animals in motion - images with an enigmatic quality that have been widely influential.
His famous images of horses were met with shock and disbelief in a pre-photography world, as they conflicted with well known artistic depictions of the time. A horse's gallop, an everyday occurrence, in plain view, had hitherto remained unknowable.
Drawing inspiration from these photographs, I created two series of artworks that interact via blockchain mechanism: NOUMENON and CHRONOPHOTOGRAPH.
NOUMENON: generative audiovisual series, amorphous and abstract, with lilting rhythms and time distortion. Visual elements suggestive of paper cut out animation, old film, intended to represent, in the sense of Kant, the unknowable; a reality beyond the limits of our senses. There are 16 Noumenons, audiovisual works procedurally generated from 140kb of C code stored on-chain.
On a time locked schedule, a blockchain tx ShutterRelease() will metaphorically capture an "observation" of a Noumenon, minting a new CHRONOPHOTOGRAPH - procedurally generated random image seeded by the blocknumber, depicting figurative/abstract motion in different phases.
Through an action mediated by a blockchain transaction, one records a chronophotographic measurement of a Noumemon, in much the same way that Muybridge used his inventions in an attempt to transcend the limits of human visual perception.
Viewers are encouraged to reflect on the perception of time, consensus reality, photography and blockchain as markers of time, as sources of objective truth, limitations therein. Chronophotographs are each unique, randomly generated at time of "observation". The collection size is INFINITE.. but our lifespans are finite. After each Noumenon observation, a time lock will double in duration: first seconds, minutes proceeding to years and millenia.
Chronophotographs will become higher in resolution after each epoch; the first are blurry and small, while later ones will become so high in resolution as to be computationally impractical on today's hardware (but may be possible when their time comes)
On May 1st, 2023 observations of Noumenons will begin, preminting the initial supply (> 150) of Chronophotographs to distribute for release. A participatory element will allow some others to take part, acting as the "photographer". A smart contract function CockShutter() allows Noumenon owners to to "ready the camera", delegating to another address permission to call ShutterRelease(). The mint still goes to Noumenon holder, but the token will have the photographer's address recorded forever onchain.
Only the blocknumber seeds the generative algo, the photographer chooses the time, and hence plays a part in determining the result. Over the course of the first week of May 2023, we'll collectively observe the first approx 14 chronophotographs from each Noumenon.
The first chronophotographs will be very low resolution and increase slowly with each epoch, mirroring the advancement in camera technology. Newly observed Chronophtoographs will be automatically live posted to Discord and Twitter.
There is more to say! Will be revealed in time. Follow along in the Discord, linked below.
Thank you to CactoidLabs and LACMA for the opportunity and the support. Thank you to Mitchell F Chan for helpful feedback and critique.
Some other blockchain artworks exploring time: