Gazers by Matt Kane weaves three stories into one narrative, told through his series of 1000 subtly animated works of art: the story of humanity’s relationship with the moon and time, the history of the blockchain, and Kane’s own story.
To explore this collection, let’s start at the (very literal) beginning – both anthropologically and in terms of how Kane first had the idea for this project.
The Cave Art of the Future
Remarks on Twitter about how NFTs are in their “cave art stage” reminded Kane of the earliest cave-art Lunar calendars, dating back to the last Ice Age.
He thought it fitting that the blockchain, too, should have a Lunar calendar in its early history. So he made it happen: each Gazer is a Lunar calendar, synching algorithmically with the moon’s phases.
Each Gazer links us to that ancient tradition and reminds us of how the moon still affects our lives - be it directly, such as by changing the tides, or indirectly, by still affecting our very perception of time.
After all, the concept of “month” itself is based on the moon’s cycle (even the term comes from the word “moon”).
The Blockchain’s History - Narrator and Character in One
Where previous artworks by Kane, such as Right Place & Right Time, chronicle the history of the blockchain, Gazers also pointedly inserts itself into that history. While this is ultimately true of all influential artworks of this kind, the intentionality in Gazers makes it stand out: Kane envisioned the Ice Age parallel and made it a reality, unapologetically breaking any illusion of non-intervention.
Perhaps this constitutes another parallel with how the world of crypto is shaped by those in it, still at a stage where visions can become reality in defiance of expectations, where the line between user and builder is blurry - and where decentralization is meant to ensure that none of us will be relegated to the role of observers.
Or perhaps this conjecture shows that the work succeeded in its declared purpose of making us wonder. As the collection’s description reads:
“What does it mean for all of us in crypto to be so ahead of our time, all while using the same metaphor of the Moon for the various measures of success and individual goals we collectively share in crypto? And how will the future appreciate our ambitions and perseverance within the present moment's growing pains on our way to mass adoption? These are some of the questions that Gazers ask.”
Gazers will still be on the blockchain in that envisioned future. With their privileged perspective, those who look at or even hold a Gazer then will know the answers to at least some of these questions - and, fittingly, even the art they will see will be very different from the form we know now.
A Quiet Autobiography
The collection’s autobiographical component is subtle in design but marked in impact, manifesting itself in each NFT’s Origin Moon trait. Each date corresponds to a New Moon under which an important event took place in Kane’s life, specifically those that shaped him as an artist.
Keeping (Up With) Time
These traits are not merely temporal landmarks, however. The date of each Gazer’s Origin Moon affects the speed of its animation. “Older” Gazers are faster, and every Gazer becomes faster with time, its speed increasing at a rate of about one frame per year.
The notable dates, animation, and acceleration combine into a metaphor for achieving one’s goals and the artist’s drive - or perhaps our universal yearning as a species - to always strive for bigger and better things.
Finally, they also represent the passage of time itself, and how everything, particularly technology, appears to speed up around us the more time passes - while the moon’s cycles will always remain a steady 29.53 days long.