Introducing 0nir0 series by Jaen
0nir0 is dreamworld, a storytelling crypto art project, a NFT avatar series, a nascent community, a gamified community bigger than the sum of its NFT parts, as these become an entry ticket to become part of a surreal and dreamy universe. 4 seasons are planned, and the first season is a KnownOrigin exclusive: Psyches, avatars whose personality determine pre and post NFT acquisition mechanics and longer term roles, developing on Discord and Twitter. To celebrate the release of all Psyches - except the crown jewel that will play a part later, collector Kaprekar took the time to sit down with Jæn to talk about dreams and this unprecedented and innovative crypto art endeavour.
K: Hi. Let's start with one observation that popped up immediately for me as I thought about 0nir0, art, and the dream world: the dream world doesn't follow clear rules. Everything can be weird, or nonsensical, or transition from one event or surrounding to another and we just accept it. Unless we are in a lucid state, we just go with it without questioning. Art often can be like that too. It breaks the rules of physics all the time, and we just accept it for what it is. There's obviously the point where we can zoom out and be more deliberate about what is happening, but it's really easy to get lost in a movie, for example, and just accept that the person on screen is the character and not the actor, or the person on stage is the character, not the actress, or the person, or scene, even in a still image. It exists because you are looking at it. Even when what is in front of you is impossible. Anyway, that's not specific to 0nir0, but I'm pointing out that there's an interesting connection between dreams, imagination, and art. Because our dreams reflect our imagination, and for artists, their imagination becomes more concrete, more real in the art they produce.
J: Hi. Thank you for sharing all that. It's interesting to lay out that symbolism is indeed something shared in the foundations of dreams and art. It's the magic of putting the essence, or meaning of something, inside a vessel, that can be a shape, colours, words, someone or something. I once had a lucid dream where I was playing with my late cat, with whom I had enjoyed a very strong bond. I remember thinking, within the dream, "that dream cat doesn't look anything like my cat in reality. So how can I recognise him within this dream?" The answer was that there is an essence, an ultimate and intimate idiosyncrasy pertaining to the identity of my cat that my subconscious put inside my dream, and that whatever the shape it was taking - it could have a been a chair or a tree! - the mind can read this hidden property, what I call the essence. This pure, abstract, and innate knowledge of identity truly fascinates me.
K: Now, stepping more directly into the 0nir0 world you've created... you have an assortment of characters, of personality styles that are exposed in the dream world. Part of what I was thinking of when I saw them, is there's various personality tests and identifications: Myers-Briggs for instance, the Enneagram, and the one used for more research purposes, the Big 5 personality traits. So, the idea that who we really are is expressed more freely and openly in the dream world is definitely an interesting concept. One aspect of those tests, though, is that you might end up with a letter series, or a score for the 5 personality traits, or a number, but it ends up being really lifeless. So, the various aspects of personality personified was something that is both fun and visually striking. I'm curious, did you have any of those tests in mind when you made 0nir0, or may be not at all? J: I've done my fair share of tests, for fun, including the ones you shared. It's not an adaptation of any of these per se, even if they have surely been influential in some capacity. Since Psyches are the first veil to be lifted to remember who you are within dreams, I thought it made sense to start by remembering what you like. That's what Psyches are, the first level of identity: knowing your peculiar tastes.
K: Let's have a more specific look. The Daredevil, for instance, has horns like a devil, The Lone Wolf is portrayed as a wolf, so clearly more of what you've drawn on in the pieces are the stories, myths, and fairy tales that are part of our culture. Then, you've added the game aspects in. The Merchant that you have to trade for. The Escapist which you have to let go and burn its token. There's a lot going on, a lot of thought behind how to get community around this series. Which is really well suited for the medium of NFTs, since the most interesting art forms a community around it in this space. The art doesn't just stop at the image, but extends outward into the active community. Those so much more to dive into here. I want to spend more time purposefully looking into each piece. Examining the clues.
J: Alright. I have to mention that the first iteration of 0nir0 was a board game. You would find random dreams in which you would gradually remember who you are (through drawing Psyches and Archetypes cards at random), eventually becoming a lucid dreamer, yielding greater power but also being more prone to waking up - game over. By the way, Archetypes can be found on my project page. It didn't work great as a board game, so I let this world deepen, mature and widen inside my mind until I could find the perfect way to introduce it to the world. Crypto art was it. The 4 seasons that I have planned and the game mechanics have emerged through making it a NFT-based project. As you mentioned, the aim was to go further than the usual avatar NFTs, and to actually have a use case for them, where the NFT is just one part of something bigger. The game mechanics, as simple as they are now, are all designed to make you FEEL something according to your Psyche. Once you felt the thrill of completing The Explorer's quest, the unapologetic and slightly sadistic fun of The Mischievous, or the adrenaline rush and uneasiness of The Daredevil's event, you made an emotional connection with your Psyche and the NFT game. The common point between reality and the magic of dreams, cinema, and art. In that regard, the currently released most exclusive piece, The Lone Wolf, will go through a solo adventure with choices, and it's going to be extremely interesting.
K: One thing that might be worth thinking about is how to make the scavenger hunt something that people can drop into and engage with later, even if there's no longer any reward for it. Something that future 0nir0 collectors can do to retrace the steps of those that came before.
J: Making it not just about rewards and have 0nir0 run independently of my input is one goal I have indeed, which will happen when enough of the game is out, to give a precise sense of the world first. Its strangeness, rules and aesthetics. Season 2 will be about Morpheans, sentient beings native to dreams, and should be a collab season, as I'm currently discussing with artists fitting each species. Season 3 will be Archetypes, a sort of Psyches 2.0 that have evolved to lucid dreaming, finishing with season 4, which will see dreamscapes. The plan is to make NFTs from each season interact in some way with NFT from other seasons as well. Some may have some rewards and mechanics right away, even necessary before buying, others will make sense later. Community suggestions and autonomy, will play a part, while trying to keep it true to 0nir0's essence. For now, I will note on Discord all the actions and choices made by the NFT players, which will end as something on the blockchain. It could be a .pdf NFT, but I'm also researching how to add metadata on chain so each edition within a multiple changes through its holder's choices.
K: There's a lot you can do. Punk bodies for example allow you to merge the CryptoPunk NFT with a Punk body NFT to form a different kind of NFT that contains both, which can later broken apart again. The board game history is cool. I wonder if you would ever consider revisiting that. The story of 0nir0 could speak to very different markets, as NFT art and as a board game, but I think they could complement each other well, where a board game player then goes and explores the NFT side, or the 0nir0 collector buys the board game to play with friends with a physical print of their NFT on the wall.
J: The Punk Body project is really interesting. You guessed it right, I'm keeping the possibility of the universe going cross-media in my mind. The board game mechanics weren't fun enough if I wanted to keep the essential parts of it in, but I could go back to it later and find the tricky balance. Even an animated series and a video-game would be relevant and great incarnations, as there's room for a deeper story. I won't lie, I already have one in my mind, following characters through their waking and sleeping life. A mix of surreal fantasy, fleshed-out psychology and catharsis.
K: About the name “0nir0”. Oneiro- in British English, combining form, indicating a dream. Origin from Greek oneiros ‘dream’.
J: Bull's eye, it comes from Greek indeed. Following the strange logic of dreams, I wanted it to look like a palindrome, and using egg-shaped zeros instead of Os gave it the protean / multi-potential symbolism that is associated with the fuzziness of dreams. Everything can shape-shift at any moment, and the zero eggs capture that feeling of undefined, thus infinite, potential identity. K: Alright. Looking at The Parfumier, I see the keyhole mouth quite clearly. The nostrils are interesting. Lots of them indicating a high sense of smell. The symbol on the nose is something to look up. The facial features look sort of like the contours of a terrain or map, perhaps like seeking truth by understanding the contours of something. J: On The Parfumier of Revelations' design, the symbol on the nose is meant to look like a very strange key, that compliments the keyhole shape to embody the unlocking of secrets. The closed eyes and extra nostrils indicate a extremely intense focus on following the subtle scent of secrets. The texture is indeed a combination of the exploratory symbol of terrain maps, further hinting at a precise analysis of subtle signals, and the texture of wood, as I wanted this mask to be made of a living, textured material.
K: By the way, the reason for my buying 3 so far... I kind of had in my head that the intent was for people to pick 1. But I also like them a lot, and wanted more. I was going from silent observer on Twitter to playing a bit more of an active role, so I was feeling a bit of the adrenaline of doing something new. The Daredevil's purchase made sense. Then, thinking that it was sort of intended to have 1, I thought it was a tad mischievous to collect multiple. Not that you would mind selling more, but that it's sort of designed to play one role. The Mischievous purchase made sense. Finally, there are more characters that represent my more pronounced personality. The truth seeker fits more as a trait I display far more frequently than daredevil-ness or mischief. So I got that one too. I share that because when I collect, I want to have a reason or connection to the piece. Some way of connecting my life or story to the pieces.
J: In the board game, it was impossible to have more than one Psyche because of game mechanics, but in the NFT iteration, I actually never intended anyone to limit at only one. Of course, it would be less fun if a few people got all of them, but as your experience shows, we're complex beings. All of them are parts of me as well. I'm not surprised with the story of your involvement in 0nir0 in that matter, as it's made of accepting the nuances and paradoxes that make our inner diversity. One-sidedness rarely feel true to yourself for that reason. Connecting that to dreams, I had a very strange one in which I was a man going on about his life and job, then a woman doing something else, then another woman, a sort of priestess of a strange goddess that she believed we were all a part of. At that moment, my consciousness zoomed out of that life to remember I was indeed a sort of cosmic deity with an affinity for rain. Each part of my body was the life of one human being - the priestess, located in my ankle, was the only one somewhat aware of that. I think that dream was my mind processing all the plasticity our personality can have, changing from one moment to another, sometimes several personalities even overlapping at the same moment.
K: Wow, that's a really fun dream. I think more of my dreams are mundane things, interacting with family or friends I'm close with, but where the setting suddenly changes or their age suddenly changes, and I just accept it. More like the dream with your cat. The problem is I don't remember most of them. I remember something about this from high-school. The memory itself is fuzzy, like a dream. I think we had a dream unit, with a dream journal assignment. The key to remembering more dreams was to have a journal right by your bed, and a routine where you write them down when you first wake up. It's tedious, but to borrow a phrase from 0nir0, then you remember who you are.
J: Interesting. Some people also try to foster better remembering by exercising their lucid dreaming ability. The most basic exercise is to obsess yourself to remember to look at your hand when you dream, until you do. If there's a dream I don't want to forget, I go with the voice recorder, I find it easier to quickly throw in all the nuances and go back to bed.
K: On the multiple roles thing, I realized that as The Parfumier I could see all channels in the Discord, and as The Mischievous I'm supposed to sow mischief, so I was thinking I would combine those powers. I would just drop a GIF and a picture of The Mischievous into each channel I don't have the role in. I went to do it but I actually can't write in those channels, I can just see them.
J: Hahaha, I love that you tried to do that! Yes, I imagine The Parfumiers more as observers than wanting to act on all the time, and I find it interesting that some people won't remember or know that the Parfumiers can see and read everything, and think they have their own privacy. Looking forward to see if something comes out of it.
K: I was looking on the KnownOrigin page, trying to at least take an early stab at The Explorer's challenge. I noticed 1 Explorer has been gifted. Has someone already solved the puzzle? J: Yes. With some help, but it was found indeed. Another one found it but didn't have the funds yet. What was extremely funny is that the latter found it directly on the platform it's hiding on, by fiddling around to find something else. I really enjoyed this unexpected find, and absolutely valid explorer move, via serendipity rather than intent.
K: Ok. One other thing I've bee thinking about with this work: we've had some discussions before about single edition vs multi-edition vs shards or fractional ownership in a single-edition piece. The nice thing about multi-edition is you can achieve broader distribution and a lower price point. I think that fits really well for 0nir0, because you want it to be a community game of sorts where collectors step into a character role. So, one thing I've encountered especially as I've temporarily used one as Avatar, is that other players have the exact same piece. So that made me think at least once, "oh I see that Sarah Moosvi has The Parfumier as avatar, I could switch mine, but right now I'm not going to. I'll wait and if the mood fits, I'll change it when hers is down." So the one question I had was: how do you feel about single edition pieces with multiple copies of the character, just slight variants? Sort of like CryptoPunks and Avastars. So you could have say a 5 edition Daredevil, but each Daredevil has a very slight variation, making it 1/1. I've even heard from some that this sort of variance is the future of multi-editioned work. But I guess my question is, how do you feel about it as an artist? The problem I see is that for an artist who really focuses on the details, you want all of those details to have a purpose. So a Daredevil with 5 different horn counts achieves the purpose I'm describing, but there's less focus on making every detail count.
J: This is an interesting topic, actually. I really like the possibility of variants. Something worth considering for Season 3 - Archetypes. But there's something I like about sharing the same NFTs: it makes you a team, whether you like it or not. It's still scarce, with only 5 maximum of each role. I was talking to all the Merchants to have them promise to keep the price change real - it was the Cunning Twist: The Merchant's public price is now set at 1.783, which is the sum of all the NFTs that were traded for it. We did that within the group, and that was fun and a bit moving for me, as they instantly felt as a spontaneous Guild. If you add the possibility to make each holder's choices lasting on chain, each edition starts to have its own story anyway. Extremely interesting too: The Parfumiers are obviously the most knowledgeable of the players, also about my non-0nir0 art activity. It includes you, a longer-time collector of my art whom I can trust, just like Sarah Moosvi who is also my partner on the release of my NFT master series Cornælhuys, and last but not least, PartnerNFT, who is the embodiment of the Parfumier, very active in the shadows, prone to analyse and gather a lot of information. I would like to thank the latter for reaching out to me and going so much in details on everything about 0nir0, giving relevant advice and things to explore, it's been a great help to refine and tie everything together. So, the Parfumiers' Secret Order of sorts ends up being 3 persons I can personally trust with insider information, as it was meant to be. It would have been super weird to end up with big mouths just getting it because they liked the NFTs. The point is, until now, I feel the magic of every Psyche finding their holder as much as they find the NFTs.
K: The team aspect is a great point and I do like that. I would conclude by saying I think you've captured some of the best of what NFTs have to offer at this stage in their evolution. Beautiful art. An avenue to connect collectors with yourself the artist and with each other. The seeds of community. Some element of story in each piece and the possibility for personal connection to the broader story of the 0nir0 dreamworld. I think the whole thing is really well done. Thanks for creating something that collectors want to own and want to be a part of. I'm looking forward to playing my various roles in the 0nir0 Discord and elsewhere.