Inspired by a major music streaming platform, I made a JPG.SPACE 2022 WRAPPED gallery. For fun, to flex favourite jpgs from projects I’ve collected, and to take it seriously and write about seasons.
Ownership underpins NFTs, so looking back on the projects minted this year kind of aches in a personal way, within the communal ache of a generally bad year, and the wider ache of time lost, moments passing, everything / nothing changing. Looking at the jpgs can transport to that urgent dopamine moment in a different time. It’s like listening in December to your most played song from February, but the artist got paid.
Seasons, not years, are the right unit to chart change and remember time. Nothing to do with the weather, but collective rhythms, phases and cycles. More cultural, less cosmic. Do you remember what was 2021 and what was 2020? I don’t, but I remember the feeling of these past four seasons and the evidence is immutably on chain.
In 2016, Scottish author Ali Smith asked her publisher: what’s the quickest we can ship? She wanted to reconnect with the novel’s immediacy, resurfacing that literary format’s origins as instalments released locally and in the moment, the setting completely real but not yet history. She wrote and published one novel each year, one for each season, written in the season. History took over anyway: Brexit, Trump, Covid-19. Yet, these major events are not centred in the novels. The lockdown and fear of early stage pandemic hovers at the edges of the minutiae of her characters’ daily lives and relationships which are their (and, as the reader, our) focus. It’s a peripheral anxiety for us too, we are living in the same space and time.
Smith centers an artist in each novel (Pauline Boty, Barbara Hepworth, Tacita Dean, Lorenza Mazzetti) and it’s through encounters with their works that the novels’ characters examine their own worlds.
This from Summer:
Creativity is cultural not because it is derivative of it, but because it aims to heal culture. Art saturated with the unconscious acts like a compensatory dream in the individual: it tries to rebalance and address deep-rooted problems.
The diagram of Smith’s layered seasonal novels is therefore four concentric circles: A barely-there us forming a protective shell to the kernel of me, culture (meaning) anchoring us, and history happening all around, colouring the scent and mood of each season, now and then puncturing through, shaking us, and completely changing everything / nothing. The chronos of the seasons cycles on, and the kairos - the qualitative moments - break through.
In Smith’s novel , winter is the gradual reveal of truths beneath the lonely and claustrophobic environment of a country home at Christmas. Winter makes things visible. Holding your circle near, staying close to home. It was my summer in December and January, but continuing pandemic wave travel restrictions kept us rolling around local parks close to home, minting friends’ projects at the kitchen table, early morning sunlight streaming in. Clouds on Chains is an iconic first mint. Nuxui my first (only) executed post-mint flip and post-pump re-entry for the one that I wanted.
Spring blossoms with hope, not. Spring brought Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and inflating economies and obvious multi-collapse ahead. In Smith’s novel, spring is about escape; the real and heavy escape of war-time refugees, as well as the overwhelming urge to drop everything and disappear from a mid-life mid-work crisis. A lot of clever NFT projects (plus owls and ape land) launched in Spring (ha!, we said, what bear market!). For me it was Unix Days, good to mint whenever you remember, whenever a pink day comes up, and Silk Road, the shifting colours duly replicated by low light through leaves around the easter full moon.
Summer, Smith notes, comes from the Old English sumor, meaning both one and together. I guess it’s time for big fun energetic pfp projects in communal celebration. Allstarz and Finiliar wormed their way in with unhinged cuteness and drip and (say the words) extremely pleasant discord vibes. I also minted lots of flowers and Tsunflower Chaos (above). Abundant.
The opening line of the novel Autumn is an unambiguous Dickens: ‘It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.’ Late autumn has had some historical bad times, more bad times to come. I cycled what I made from selling my own small collection into NFT art grails: Terraforms, Heaven Computer, and Tombs. With the exception of Tomb’s Shadow House (the most stressful mint in history) these were slow and uncomplicated purchases chosen outside of any rarity calculations or urgency - a floor Terraforms because I liked the colour and animation, a floor Heaven Computer because of this line in the metadata: Walking towards your dreams is important, but knowing when to walk away is just as important.
Chronos ticks on, but kairos bursts out. Each of these mints, the art and the memory, has personal importance to me. As well as flex and/or parsed cultural meaning, NFT galleries might also be on-chain journals.
To end, this passage from Autumn, which visualises chronos and captures the fleeting convictions of worth and value in a fragile and chaotic art-world:
Time flies, Elisabeth said.
Well, yes. It can do, Daniel said. Literally. Watch this.
Elisabeth doesn’t remember much of the above. She does remember, though, the day they were walking along the canal bank when she was small and Daniel took his watch off his wrist and threw it into the water.
She remembers the thrill, the absolute not-doneness of it.
She remembers there were two boys down on the rocks and they turned their heads as the watch arced through the air and over them and hit the canal, and she remembers knowing that it was a watch, Daniel’s watch, not just any old stone or piece of litter, flying through the air, and knowing too that there was no way those boys could know this, that only she and Daniel knew the enormity of what he’d just done.
She remembers that Daniel had given her the choice, *to throw or not to throw.
*She remembers she chose to throw.
She remembers coming home with something amazing to tell her mother.