- On May 9, 2022, the iconic comedian, actor, and producer Jim Carrey secretly dropped an NFT collection on Foundation, according to information shared with nft now via Big Head Club, the Web3 studio behind the NFTs.
- Carrey released the collection, called Germinations, under his Web3 alias String Bean. It includes five animated, autobiographical paintings by Carrey, each containing audio of the actor narrating the characters depicted in the pieces.
- The NFT collection experiments with how society perceives and interacts with fame, art, and value. The collection’s reveal also hints at forthcoming projects from Carrey under his String Bean alias.
Why it matters
While Jim Carrey publicly dropped his “first” NFTs on SuperRare in June and August, it turns out he actually had already released an NFT collection on Foundation months before, entitled Germinations.
Carrey has remained a cultural institution in his own right for decades, and Germinations revolves around that very fact.
“We were trying to play with the audience,” explained Mack Flavelle, CEO of Big Head Club, in an interview with nft now. “You’re literally looking at Jim Carrey’s face. You’re hearing Jim Carrey narrate [these paintings]. And you don’t know that it’s Jim Carrey. That was part of the play. And it worked.”
The five animated paintings in the Germinations collection are 30 seconds to a minute in length and feature audio from Carrey himself as he inhabits the role of each unique character. Some are somber, others are erratic, but each is arresting. To create the NFTs, Carrey recorded short videos of himself in character, froze the videos, and constructed paintings from those video stills. He then provided the visuals and the audio to the Big Head Club team, which then animated the paintings.
“They are literally the voices inside his head,” Flavelle continued. “They are different characters that he hears. So, when you look at them, realize that every one of them is him painting himself. They’re all autobiographical paintings. They’re just isms of him.”
Flavelle, who co-founded massive Web3 successes like Dapper Labs and CryptoKitties before starting Big Head Club, noted that because Carrey is already an established public figure, they were free from the constraints of optimizing the project for financial gain. This allowed him and Carrey to explore project ideas that the two simply found compelling. After working together for months, Flavelle said he came away from the project struck by Carrey’s intensity and drive for the creative process.
“He has an imperative, a need to create,” Flavelle said of Carrey. “He has a need to produce art. And this new medium became really interesting to him. [With NFTs], there were some new and interesting things happening in art that weren’t in his purview before. He’s a very talented painter. But animation in painting isn’t something he’d seen before.”
During project discussions, the two were ready to abandon the endeavor, as neither felt satisfied with where things were heading creatively. Ironically, the idea for an anonymous release came out of this frustration.
“We started to talk about how boring it is that Jim Carrey makes art and nobody looks at the art,” Flavelle recalled. “All they do is focus on the fact that a celebrity made it. I asked [Carrey] if he had heard of the Washington DC subway experiment. I was like, let’s play with that. Let’s explore you doing art.”
Flavelle is referring to a 2007 experiment in which world-famous conductor and violinist Joshua Bell anonymously played the first movement of Bach’s Violin Concerto at Union Station in Washing D.C. for passersby during morning rush hour.
The experiment has proven to be revealing. When Germinations dropped, Flavelle advertised it to the Big Head Club community on Twitter and Discord as a unique project they supported and thought people would find interesting. The intention was also to asses how the community would react to an out-of-the-blue collection drop recommended by the Big Head Club team.
“We just left it there,” Flavelle explained. “With his picture on every painting, with his voice on every single piece. We got featured on Foundation so that we could make sure a ton of people saw these. If nobody knew it was Jim Carrey but nobody saw the art, that wouldn’t be a cool story.”
The two left subtle hints and clues to Carrey’s identity on both String Bean’s Twitter account and bio page on Foundation. They present visitors with an acrostic in which the first letter of each line spells out a sentence. In Carrey’s case, the bio reads as follows:
Joyful, immersive, maniacal,
Whimsical, asinine, subterrestrial.
Heretical, eternal, rambunctious, expansive.Jim Carrey as String Bean
At the time of writing, the highest-selling piece in the collection was The Bottles that Empty Me, which a collector purchased for 0.55 ETH. Carrey and Flavelle discussed not revealing the secret for years but ultimately felt it was time to let the world know who was behind the project.
“It is time for the world to know that Jim Carrey is String Bean,” Flavelle said, “And he is excited about that.”
When asked what’s next for Carrey’s String Bean explorations, Flavelle gave a cryptic response. “There’s more coming from String Bean,” he said. “This is not the end. It’s a beginning. I don’t know that we’ll explore [these new ideas] as Jim Carrey. I think ‘Jim Carrey’ might expire and String Bean might be all that is left. I think the acid of reality has dissolved that which is Jim Carrey, the artist, and what remains is String Bean. That need to create is deep inside him. And that’s not only a compliment. It’s the blessing and the curse. He is obsessed with the work. And most people I work with are not.”
The String Bean experiment offers some unique insights into how society chooses to value the fame that Flavelle speaks of so soberly. It’s also a reminder that celebrity is perhaps less satisfying and substantive than society makes it out to be. While speaking to nft now, Flavelle remarked that he had never seen Carrey so “light and happy” as he did when they released Germinations, which is telling in and of itself.
How Carrey explores his creative energies during the sunset hours of a storied career in Hollywood will be to the benefit of all who cherish his work. Hopefully, his future projects in the NFT space will be just as conceptually playful as Germinations was.
“My full name is Jim Eugene Carrey,” said Carrey in a written statement provided exclusively to nft now regarding the project. “Growing up, people called me Jimmy-Gene The String Bean because of my long thin, and abnormally flexible physique. People try to define and differentiate each other in many ways, some endearing and some not so [endearing] — but we aren’t separate. Every character we meet is a different side of the same precious diamond. I try to find all those characters inside me. Someday, I may release the vocal and facial character study videos this group of NFTs are based upon. I enjoy using original methods that don’t have a clear category yet…for better or worse.”