About this collection

a 24-hour Blockchain-based performance

I can give you “forever” right now;
but I can’t give you “right now” forever.
Promises that can’t be kept, however,
are often the only promises worth making.

I have a deep respect for Time.
A deep loathing, too.
Forever is cynical and mundane and devastatingly romantic in its
impossible commitment.

Forever is potential itself, always promised and never fully filled.
Time without presence
is as dust.
Time, without presenting,
is worth little.
Time is all that we can give, everything we are,
my gift to you.

– – poem by Nathaniel Stern, titled Forevery (capital F; clocks/art are lowercase)


forevery is a 24 hour performance piece, where each participant purchases a specific minute in a single day in 2024 (out of a total possible 1440 minutes), “certified” by the Blockchain. Any unsold mints after the 24 hour performance (from noon to noon across all time zones - a total of 48 hours) are “lost time” or perhaps “lost to time,” destined to be never, forever (also making the total edition number lower). Each dynamically generated, fully on-chain NFT is its own clock design, out of millions of possible combinations of frames, faces, numbers, hands, colors, rotations, textures, and more. The hour and minute hands on each face show the Time its patron now “owns,” with the second hand always in rotation. When the “real time” and your owned Time align (for example, if you own 12:27pm, then between 12:27 and 12:28 in your time zone), the NFT will animate through 1200 possible clock designs at 20 clocks per second.

keypress interactions

f to toggle Full screen w/o mouse; d to toggle time owned in Digital clock on bottom right; t to toggle owned Time (preview image) vs actual time (default, working clock); s to toggle Scrolling through clock designs as if it is the time itself; p to save the Forevery Poem to your hard drive


Time is something that all of us have (though never enough, it seems), but none of us own. And the Blockchain has always been a consensus-driven certification system for ownership and trans-actions, at and of specific times. It is a ledger of receipts: proof of work, stakes, time, and ownership.

But what are time and ownership without any real-world presence, or material instantiation?

Giving and selling Time itself is a promise I can’t possibly keep – just like the Blockchain’s promise of “forever” is a universal impossibility. But in many ways, the only promises worth making are those that exist in this way. Even a child knows to ask, after their story ends with a “happily ever after,” if it “really, really is forever and ever?” That said, there is nothing more romantic than an impossible promise. forevery amplifies many of the paradoxes of both Time and the Blockchain by pushing and pulling at the tensions between ownership and worth, desire and timeliness, time and being, moving and archiving, custodianship and speculation, presence and gifting.

The forevery clocks are each composed of hand-made and iPad-sketched vector layers, cleverly “disguised” on-chain as a custom font in base-64, with rarer designs including different shapes or missing components. It uses a combination of project and edition numbers to guarantee non-repeating random Times for each mint, and the palettes and designs are inspired by William Kentridge’s multi-plate prints and charcoal animations, Felix Gonzales-Torres’ (FGT’s) various Untitled clocks and candy (most notably, Perfect Lovers and Portrait of Ross), and On Kawara’s Today Series – all of them performing minimalist but emotionally charged aesthetics.

forevery celebrates, ironizes, wonders at, and agonizes over our relationships to Time, ourselves, and each other. It promises both nothing and everything: this Time is your Time, and it will last forever (or at least as long as the Blockchain exists and functions). Like ownership more generally, such possession is only what we collectively believe it to be, and how ownership is realized, too, changes over time. How might we hold on to now, forever? What would that look and feel like? It's romantic, cynical, childish, hopeful, wise, and more, and less.

Time is all that we can give, everything we are, my gift to you.

Creative Credit

My graduate assistant, Jack Lehtinen - - worked extensively with me on the clock designs and palettes, and the whole Stern Studio student team participated in ongoing brainstorming and critique. Inspirations include Felix Gonzales-Torres and On Kawara, as well as friends Emily Edelman, Camille Utterback, William Kentridge, Sasha Stiles, and Charlotte Kent. The poem line "Time without presence is as dust" came out of an email dialog with Ruth Catlow about the piece. Shout out to Alexis André, Shvembldr, the TIMEpieces series, and Ricci Albenda for their explorations of Time on the Blockchain as well.

Display Notes

Press 'f' for Full screen, 'd' to see your owned time in a Digital, 24-hour clock, 't' to toggle owned time vs actual local Time (working clock, dafault), 'p' to download the Forevery poem, 'S' to scroll through hundreds of clock designs (which it will always do at "your Time", for one minute). Preferred display is at full screen on a 1:1 LCD, in a gallery at your owned Time (not the default mode; press 'T'), with the digital clock showing optional. Title should be "Forevery 21:27", for example, with your owned Time in 24h format. In a home or place of work, the real-time clock is defaulted for your convenience and utility, with or without digital clock of your Time showing; it will still scroll at your owned Time in this mode. I have a partnership with which insures forevery editions work on their beautiful frames (preferred), and I also welcome hacks that use microcontrollers and less expensive screens for home use.

About the artist

Nathaniel Stern

Nathaniel Stern has been producing, exhibiting, teaching, and writing about art + technology for more than 25 years. His work amplifies how nature and technology are inseparable; treats language as a material and materials as always performing meaning; and, embodies how art is always both an action and a call to action. Stern’s art spans sculpture, code, installation, print, imaging, networks, Blockchain, AI, performance, and more, across digital and physical realms.

Stern has been featured in the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Guardian UK, Huffington Post, Daily Mail, Washington Post, Daily News, BBC's Today show, WIRED, Gizmodo, Time, Forbes, Fast Company, Scientific American, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Leonardo Journal of Art, Science and Technology, Rhizome, Furtherfield, and more. According to NPR, Stern’s work is “technological, thought-provoking and unexpected,” to Forbes, it is “powerful… weird, intriguing, and sometimes beautiful.” He is a a “daring poet” and artist (the Verse Verse), whose work is “tremendous fun” and also “fascinating” in how it is “investigating the possibilities of human interaction and art” (Scientific American). WIRED explains that our "future is confronted [with] power and ingenuity" in Stern’s many “multimedia experiments” (, making him one of Milwaukee's "avant-garde" (Journal Sentinel). Chicago’s widely popular Bad at Sports art podcast has said Stern produces “an obscene amount of work in an obscene amount of ways.” His “beautiful, glitched out art-images” (Boing Boing) make him ”an interesting and prolific fixture” (, with art that is “quite possibly some of the most relevant around” (Live Out Loud magazine).

Nathaniel is an Art Blocks curated artist, with collaborator Sasha Stiles. Generosity, dialog, and care are key to his practice as an artist, writer, teacher, father, and human. He is a full Professor across Art+Design, Mechanical Engineering, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and an Associate Researcher at the University of Johannesburg.