By VITTORIA BENZINE, November 2021
When Brooklyn-based artist and muralist Jason Naylor met St. Petersburg-based artist and animator Mancel Lindsey through their mutual connection in Kindness.org, neither one could predict they’d craft a self-sustaining virtual entity together—but come World Kindness Day on November 13th, the newfound duo will do just that.
This year, to mark the occasion, they’re dropping PROJECT-K—a collaborative 5-part NFT release featuring four one-of-one digital animation artworks and 10,000 unique Tokens of Kindness. These successive releases culminate with a narrative about the power of kindness, designed to inspire a ripple effect transcending the nascent NFT space, radiating out into consensual material reality—with room for growth.
The creatives found common ground in their digital proficiencies, but also in their ideals—namely, their devotion to kindness. “That was a really easy thing for us to discover,” Naylor recalled over the phone one afternoon. “Kindness.org was the catalyst for our meeting.”
While Naylor’s career elevates positive messages for the masses with vivid compositions of bold colors and type, Lindsey’s work turns inward, focusing on philosophy and the self. In collaboration, they meet on common ground before pooling their resources to set their sights outwards and inwards at once.
“It has evolved to be much bigger than we anticipated,” Naylor remarked.
His recognizable visual language pairs with Lindsey’s skills in motion—for the last ten years, Lindsey has worked as an animator for studios and films, as he explained on another phone call. “I'm very used to taking an aesthetic or a concept, and figuring out ways to make it move.”
The four singular editions that open PROJECT-K depict a character living out three different Acts of Kindness, followed by a kindness-themed mural Naylor painted in New York, animated by Lindsey. The fifth installment offers 10,000 unique Tokens of Kindness—algorithmically generated combinations of symbolism designed by the duo. Each of these unique tokens can be replicated by the owner and sent to as many wallets as they’re willing to foot the gas fee for.
‘Paying it forward’ in this manner will last for a to-be-determined timeframe, after which the artists will shut off the capabilities. Every individual owning a Token of Kindness will then have the chance to receive one token from a final drop of 99 additional Tokens of Love, raffled randomly and the absolute rarest of them all.
“We saw the opportunity to make a much bigger dent in the digital space,” Naylor explained. He’s learned to let projects grow of their own accord, allowing happy accidents to take shape—whether they’re the subconscious expressing itself or actual accidents turned serendipitous. “In toeing this line, I think there are constraints you have to maintain,” he clarified. They dictate Naylor stay true to his central principles and aesthetics.
Lindsey echoed similar sentiments of surrender to the process: “We really wanted to showcase both of our skill sets while allowing ourselves to fade away and make it about the messaging and community building.”
PROJECT-K pushes the limits of both their practices. Naylor has devoted his single-minded public-facing career predominantly to messages portrayed with lightning clarity, save for his first solo show’s foray into abstraction last spring. With PROJECT-K he’s introduced a character for the first time. The animations’ main protagonist, Anyone, is designed to represent everyone. The verve and vivacity fans love him for are still there, but the message literally comes to life.
Their five-part endeavor could potentially grow from a single drop into an actual living digital entity. A ripple effect in motion is an active phenomenon. The collaborators hope their efforts make a real mark on the burgeoning NFT space, contributing kindness to the virtual realm.
What happens online matters materially. Naylor attributes this to simple numbers. “Conceptually, what does it mean to spread something exponentially? When you're working on a project that has its foundation in technology and programming and algorithms, it's easier to think about something being exponential,” he continued. “How can a painting be exponential?”
Lindsey’s contemplations lean towards kindness, but also nothingness, time, and singularities—technology that becomes alive and conscious of itself. By exploring life at its lowest common denominator, he is “seeking to uncover the truth at the most fundamental layer of reality, to build the best possible future.”
Humans already struggle with kindness for each other. Lindsey expressed concern for a future where technology might suffer our proclivities too. "I want to make sure that whatever becomes conscious, organic or machine, doesn't have to experience what I and many others experienced as children, trying to make sense of the world without the common value of kindness,” he said. “It's very exciting and important to me that the future we're building understands the importance of kindness; mutual respect.”
He sees PROJECT-K as an opportunity to bridge the two spaces—material and virtual—harmonizing kindness to “develop a symbiosis” between the falsely separated realms. Even if singularity hasn’t become an apparent reality yet, the current reality—unregulated but free as it is—constitutes a facsimile of life, reflecting our collective consciousness. All the algorithms select for our tacit, shared values. The algorithms were built by our values.
So Naylor and Lindsey are using the existing tools at their disposal to experiment. Naylor’s observed that popular visual themes throughout the NFT sphere include angst, artistic struggle, cartoons, and all manner of futurism. He’s happy to help make a case for kindness. “That's what I want to do with my canvases. That's what I want to do with my work on the street. And that's what I want to do here.”
“It has value,” he concluded. “The art world needs it.”
Lindsey hinted the Tokens of Love acquired by lucky raffle winners may have their own utility as PROJECT-K’s story continues. 50% of the proceeds from the whole drop will go to Kindness.org—a nonprofit research organization studying the material behavior of kindness to inform governments and organizations about building a kinder future—online and offline. PROJECT-K will launch on NFT auction platform, Foundation. Stay tuned for details about PROJECT-K on their website, PROJECT-K.XYZ, along with their Twitter and Discord, to witness the possible inauguration of a living revolution on November 13th, World Kindness Day. WM
Vittoria Benzine is a street art journalist and personal essayist based in Brooklyn, New York. Her affinity for counterculture and questioning has introduced her to exceptional artists and morally ambiguous characters alike. She values writing as a method of processing the world’s complexity. Send love letters to her via: @vittoriabenzine // email@example.com // vittoriabenzine.com
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