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September 29, 2020

Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted: April 5, 2021

Artist Description: 10687,10692,10694,10673,10743,10729,10735,10720,10773,10761,10766,10759,10764,10728,10695,10681,10731,10746,10758,10777,10769,10841,10814,10793,10777

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Matt Kane’s art is so overstuffed with visual information as to be intimidating. Whenever I write these essays, I take a long look at the piece in question, quietly interrogating it to find an easy way in. Sometimes it’s obvious: A piece will wear its fascination with color or shape or composition or humanity or portraiture or generative effect on its face, and then it’s simple enough to use this as an avenue further into the piece. Not so with much of Matt Kane’s work, and especially not so with September 29, 2020. This is impressively dense artwork, one which betrays a Picasso-like mastery of artistic fundamentals, so much so that the piece seems to be trying to transcend its simplistic, artisanal enclosure. September 29, 2020 is obviously intricate. But September 29, 2020 is also well-guarded. Matt Kane does little to dispel his piece’s intricacy here, straddling us with a numerical Artist Description, and letting us figure things out for ourselves, more or less.

Fortunately, we know more about Matt Kane’s style than just what is demonstrated here. Or rather, we know from his recent generative project, Gazers, that this kind of style —elongated frame, single centralized point of emphasis, incredibly complex sequence of overlapping lines and faded shapes and dots to create some kind of holistic effect— is par the course, or at least reflects what Matt Kane is interested in, which seems to be the visualization of data. Searching around, where September 29, 2020 is housed, we find that this piece belongs to a collection called “Right Place and Right Time,” which focuses on “Creating community around the visualization of days in the life of Bitcoin.” There’s 42 pieces in this collection, all aesthetically quite similar, but which I presume have been crafted using the data of Bitcoin’s price action on any given day. This would provide a bit more context for September 29, 2020’s Artist Description, which may at first seem like a random sequence of numbers, “10687,10692,10694,10673,10743,10729,10735,10720,10773,10761,10766,10759,10764,10728,10695,10681,10731,10746,10758,10777,10769,10841,10814,10793,10777,” but which I’d bet denote Bitcoin’s fluctuating price throughout the day. 

The price for September 29, 2020 seems pretty stable, all things considered. And perhaps that’s why the Bitcoin symbol in the center of this piece is pretty kempt and centralized. Compare that, for instance, to June 14, 2021, when Bitcoin’s price jumped up around 15% in a day, and its skewed, sideways composition, and an underlying logic begins to appear. Nevertheless, though there are slight differences of color and composition and direction in these pieces, most follow September 29, 2020’s textural precedent. The neon-lit rings of pink and green and turquoise and yellow surrounding the Bitcoin symbol itself, dotted with sconces of white light like Broadway billboards. A contrasting and dark background is made up of thick flag-like lines of black and purple, faint geometric squares colored in a mottled olive, bright blue dots, and a shifting duality of graph-like patterns, unfolding across the piece like some kind of scaffolding. 

One almost expects the piece to be moving, or it seems to give off the appearance of movement, this the result of all these disparate geometric pieces, the circles and hexagons and dots, placed so near each other, and always seeming on the verge of breaking out of their stasis and beginning to flutter around wildly. Just as we expect Bitcoin’s price to move wildly beyond the bounds of what we may be able to predict or be comfortable with, Matt Kane has created a series of sprawling, abstract landscapes and trapped its occupants in an uncomfortable state of immobility. 

Or if not uncomfortable, then certainly nonconforming. I went from the source link to the Museum copy of this piece a few times trying to get the video to start, assuming that the circles would begin spinning concentrically, the dots flashing, the background displaying some kind of wave pattern, but alas, I was thwarted in anticipation by the artist himself. The movement is only an illusion. The energy is a misdirection.

It’s such unique artwork, that which Matt Kane creates. And the method of its composition is an entirely esoteric process. I’d believe that each piece was created painstakingly by hand, and I’d believe that each piece was the product of a well-trained GAN algorithm. Kane’s works sit right in the cross-section between the two; here is the obvious result of human ingenuity, but here too is the kind of complexity reserved for machine learning. Knowing Gazers, I know that Kane encodes smart contracts themselves with artistry, and within the smart contracts are deliberate changes to the images themselves. I’ve no idea if that’s the case here. I don’t think September 29, 2020 is the apex of Kane’s artistry, but I think the entire “Right Place and Right Time” series is a clear stepping stone in terms of composition and intent. Kane takes on bigger bodies now, and does so with an alarming, oceanic complexity. If we spent another second with September 29, 2020, we probably could have predicted how exactly the artist would continue to rise. 

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