Many nights we point our telescope at the night sky, and members of my family, both young and old alike, search for the moon. There is a feverish frenzy to cast our eyes upon that ghostly orb and when we spy it, the delight and thrill are unmatched. It is a chance to see something beyond the familiar terrains of our worldly horizons, and glimpse something brilliant in the vast realms of space. Matt Kane’s collection “Gazers” captures mankind’s enchantment with the moon and satisfies some of our need to seize something above and beyond by allowing collectors to own a living simulation of the moon through his pieces.
A Chicago-born oil painter and coder extraordinaire, Kane applies the best of both skills to his collection, merging color theory with coding that serves to create living pieces of art that change infinitesimally every moment like a breathing entity and that are programmed to continue metamorphosing for decades to come. His choice of the moon as the central subject of all his work is particularly meaningful to the crypto space, as it touches upon the very soul of the mission of artists and collectors alike who are working in a space that is moving ahead of its time.
The moon is an apt metaphor for this, because it has always held us in its thrall and symbolized a desire to reach beyond the earthly moorings of what is within mankind’s reach. Ever since the 1957 Russian launch of Sputnik, the entire nation was seized with the desire to touch the moon.
Immediately, Eisenhower formed NASA and JFK promised Americans that we would be on the moon very soon; shortly thereafter, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took their first steps and announced a great leap for mankind. This was the stuff of dreams, an unthinkable and unimaginable feat for Neolithic ancestors who had depended upon the moon for farming and birthing and animal behavior predictions.
In many ways, Kane views the artists and collectors in the crypto space as the same visionaries who were determined to land on the moon in a world where nothing like it had ever been attempted. He acknowledges that the work being done in the crypto space is work that is ahead of its time, as he says, one cannot pay their bar tab with crypto yet. In this way, his entire collection is symbolic of the mission of crypto, building the foundations of a world that is emerging and seeks to be the foundation of the future.
His collection is designed to grow with time, but it has its origins in the past, for Kane asserts that past achievements cannot be taken for granted. Each moon in his “Gazers” collection has a date assignment from some significant moment from his past 20 years as an artist, whether his first painting sale in a gallery, his discovery of the blockchain, or his first NFT sale. Depending upon the age of each piece, the speed of the frame rates run accordingly: 20 frames per second for a piece dated 20 years ago, but a newer piece will run closer to one frame per second fresh from its birth.
Furthermore, each piece has layers of pattern designs that are in constant motion. The lines will thicken and thin, tremble and rotate or dance in a peaceful undulation, the hashes move musically, borders change and shift. Each midnight, the piece is given a new set of instructions to change color. At midnight the colors become shadowy and deep, borders darken as though night falls upon them, at dusk/dawn a bright, rosy haze brightens the piece, similar to the gentle glow of morning, and then by noon, the pieces burn almost neon in their shades, transformed into blazing squares of color and light.
The use of color theory is present in all of Kane’s pieces as he chooses complementary color profiles: he pairs reds and blues and purples together, and in other pieces features predominantly green, yellow, and oranges. These well-balanced color groups are then brought to life with intricate moving patterns that are reminiscent of colors and motions found in the natural world.
Just like the natural moon phases, the piece will have its own shifting phase, changing every month in an endless cycle, but speeding up too with the passage of time, so that the entire experience mirrors the human experience, of time being both cyclical but also feeling as though it speeds up as we age. He celebrates the concept of the New Moon, too, as every 29 days, there is a newly designed moon that appears in the artwork, the hashes changes, the colors morph, the design is distinctly fresh and reborn, heralding the dawning of a new chapter but staying true to the original concept.
Kane has also programmed rendering modes of viewing within each NFT so that the collector can, over time, enjoy more benefits of each piece, further establishing it as a living, growing piece of art, rather than something stagnant. Each piece offers a variety of other features, such as celebration windows that provide certain “celebration” modes where their piece goes into a rare and exciting form of expression that varies each time, with windows to enjoy them ranging from twelve to 144 hours. In many ways, this is a giant overhaul of the usual art collection experience.
Centuries ago, a collector gazing at the splendor of a Monet would not be able to see the water lilies coming to life and moving on the canvas at some certain points of the month, nor would the Mona Lisa wink every 29 days.
Those artworks, though long-lasting, are still, in many ways, stagnant pieces. But here we have living art that moves and changes and reacts to time and space in a way that follows its human owner. Though one cannot necessarily be said to be better than the other, Kane certainly changes the relationship of the collector to artwork with art that has a life and spirit of its own.
The artist’s hope is to create something that will last, and to last, something must evolve otherwise face obsolescence and extinction. Kane creates something that collectors can enjoy in the moment, delighting in the changes that occur on a daily basis, but he also builds a collection that gives holders the power of owning something that will become more valuable with time, due to the fact that it has the potential to be something as of yet unimagined.
Just as the space travelers did not know what the landing upon the moon would show, a holder of one of Kane’s “Gazers” pieces cannot predict how it will look and move a year from now. There is something powerful about the unknown, something that draws a gazer to it, even when it is sometimes dismissed by the current restrictions of one’s earthly moorings.
And just as the crypto space is a vastly untraveled space, Kane seeks, with his collection, to explore this new frontier and fill it with lasting works that will exist long after we are gone.