The Boys of Summer

Mitchell F Chan
Mitchell F Chan

Collection Overview

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The Boys of Summer is a digital game artwork and generative PFP collection by Mitchell F Chan that investigates our world's favorite pastime: the quantification of self. With an irreverent, provocative lens, using baseball characters and statistics as the creative medium, the work prompts us to examine our own value system and our inherent biases that shape our potential in how society decides what - and who - is 'successful.'

Signature Collections are selected by our Curatorial Board, including Deafbeef, Casey Reas, Holly Herndon, Mathew Dryhurst, Mitchell F. Chan, Nancy Baker Cahill, Harm van den Dorpel, Gabriel Massan, Maria Paula Fernández, and Serwah Attafuah.

'Moneyball' Meets Crypto in 'The Boys of Summer' Experimental NFT Game

The Boys of Summer is a digital game artwork and generative PFP collection by Mitchell F Chan that investigates our world’s favorite pastime: the quantification of self. 
A participatory market performance piece, the game consists of a never-ending process of character creation that unfolds online in the browser. Collectors purchase 3D baseball character PFPs, which each serve as players in the game. At the end of the game, collectors have the option to assign their scores to their players as metadata.
With an irreverent, provocative lens, using baseball characters and statistics as the creative medium, the work prompts us to examine our own value system and our inherent biases that shape our potential in how society decides what - and who - is ‘successful.’ 
How It Works
Each of the 999 baseball players is created via a generative process, and each token has its own intrinsic potential, which is not immediately apparent to the collector. 
Once you own your character, you can connect your wallet to the game. The adventure begins as you hit ‘start’ on the game, and a journey through your character’s ‘life’ unfolds. In the quest to ‘win’ and become a professional baseball player, you’ll be asked to make a series of inputs about your character– your hitting, power, and other baseball-related traits, but also, as the game progresses, those stats become increasingly personal– how much time you should devote to sleep, oral care, the list goes on. Ultimately, by the end of the game, you’ll have copious data points that now make up the metadata of your PFP. Only then will the rarity of certain traits be revealed– a true amalgamation of nature and nurture in which how you play the game can impact your character's traits, but only insofar as their inherent potential allows. 
Exploring the Collection: Three Currents 
Rich with references and thematic explorations, this artwork explores the way in which, for the artist, three currents flowing through different areas of our culture converge into one idea. 
I - Crypto & PFP Culture 
The most emergent current in the series is a critical examination of the culture surrounding crypto markets. While we all will have our own relationship to that culture, one thing that is undeniably present across crypto, NFT, and particularly PFP culture is the idea of speculative VALUE. More often than not, that perceived value is inherently tied to DATA associated with the token. The way in which your specific artwork possesses traits, binary qualities that determine its value. Current trading paradigms on today’s digital art marketplaces magnify the issue by intentionally, unintentionally, and algorithmically diverting focus toward these quantifiable characteristics. So, it stands to reason that if you want to make an artwork that investigates this idea, you have to make it in the medium itself. And thus, Mitchell decided to make PFPs to critically examine these market dynamics through hyper-exaggerated experimentation. 
II - The Quantification of Self
Turning from crypto culture to culture at large, the idea of quantifying people into datasets is nothing new, but what has emerged more recently is the idea of taking ownership of that quantified self as a positive. Whether it’s voluntarily deciding to quantify ourselves through health trackers, or a desire to prevent our data from being bought and sold amongst corporations, we have a newfound focus on wanting to take control of what happens with our datasets. Now more than ever, it feels impossible to ignore the ways in which numbers and data play a massive role in our societal discourse and in our own personal, daily lives.  Mitchell asks: how do we sift through our experiences and understand the world through this lens of quantification?
III - Sports 
So why sports – why baseball? In part because it’s fun and an accessible entry point to explore these complex topics. But all the more relevant, baseball presented itself as perhaps the perfect way to express these ideas of quantification, given its own historic relationship to numbers, and data. Perhaps most aptly described by Michael Lewis’ Moneyball, in his account of the coach of the Oakland Athletics’ approach to developing a winning team. If you could align the numbers, align the statistics, and craft it in the spreadsheet – you’d have pretty good odds you’d win. We’ve seen these ideas manifested in popular phenomena like fantasy sports leagues, sports gambling, and more. Using baseball players presented a rich opportunity to comment on the role of data in our lives and value systems.  
Finally, a note on the choice to make a video game artwork: Mitchell has worked across a variety of mediums in his career, from physical sculptures to NFTs, and, most recently, through the medium of video games. He believes creating art through the mediums that people are actually using and exploring allows for a stronger experience with the work, and the ideas being expressed. Interaction builds empathic connection; and expands the relationship between the viewer and artist from passive to active. Every pixel, every component of this artwork was created by Mitchell himself – a testament to his commitment, his rigor, and his investment in the process of artmaking. 
Mitchell F Chan

Multidisciplinary artist interested in representing the invisible systems and structures that significantly impact our visible world. He released his first NFT collection, Digital Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility, in 2017. Also, Mitchell can ball.

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Explore Mitchell's Past Collections

Digital Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility, 2017

The Digital Zones tell a story about how different concepts of ownership are fundamental to the experience of an artwork. The artwork is significant not only for being one of the earliest NFT artworks to be exhibited and minted in a legacy art gallery, but also for imagining, in 2017, the ways that non-fungible tokens could advance the conceptualist project of separating the commodity form of an artwork from the experienced form. It also explored the ways the separation changes a collector's relationship to art.
Sol LeWitt's Wall Drawing #118 instructs executors to connect randomly-placed points with straight lines, on a continuous surface of wall. Released on Artblocks in 2021, Lewitt Generator Generator imagines that seminal artwork executed on complex, algorithmically-generated walls. Conceptually, in this collection, Chan investigates the relationship between an artwork’s commodity and expressive forms.

Winslow Homer's Croquet Challenge, 2022

Winslow Homer’s Croquet Challenge is the first artwork in the Beggars Belief series. It’s an interactive artwork about Reconstruction-era America, games as analogues for social structures, and how we frame those structures. It’s also a video game in which you can play croquet and ignore all that noise. The artwork is released as part of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum’s exhibition Peer-To-Peer, the first survey of blockchain artists organized by a major American museum. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Tina Rivers Ryan, and can be experienced online here.

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