Hi Lurk, are you following the Cryptoart/NFT debate?
I would like to find and read any kind of critique of the cryptoart system. I've been following the discussion on environmental impact, but I'm also interested in other angles -- e.g. if the power consumption problem is solved, would cryptoart be ok?
Some threads that I haven't seen developed, probably because I'm not reading the right people:
- NFTs as strange simulacra of the questionable capitalist art market
- yet another instance of "disruption" of traditional systems that will "empower" the people by "cutting out the middlemen", we've seen this
- billionaires hyping up this new system along with their bullish stance on cryptocurrency (Musk & Tesla)
- artists becoming hype-ridden sales megaphones (see the twitter feed of most artists in NFT)
- reduction of digital art to easily digestible, visually attractive formats
I'd love to know what you have to say and point out any ongoing critiques about this interesting issue? (yeah you, if you're reading this you're included)
@rlafuente the medium posts of memoakten are partially addressing those issues, with the calculus of gain repartition of these among artist looking like a steep pyramid
there is the obvious problem of digital things being rendered "rare", the repartition of Ether coins among rich people (Winklevoss brother and co), the now quasi impossible access to NFT minting for poor artists, the new intermediaries game, gamification, ...
@Olm_e hey cheers! I'm curious about the issue of access to NFT minting -- how are poor artists excluded? Is it because of the need to get into the ETH ecosystem?
@rlafuente well I miss-formulated this probably but yes you need to get your data on the blockchain, by minting yourself (nearly impossible now given the difficulty of the blockchain calculus, need some ASIC/GPU array) or pay someone else to mint it.
It can be 'cheap' if I understand (a few €/$ per NFT), but it's not "free" and depends on those platform that mint and sell those. (and you generally need more than one as it's "per artwork")
It's really not like publishing on a website...
@cobwebs indeed, that's a relevant use case. However, it's the proposition of a crypto digital art market that needs debating, i find
@cobwebs i didn't know zora, thanks! I was referring to Rarible, Superrare and the like
@cobwebs in theory it's an interesting principle, but in practice it comes with a decent set of shortcomings, see here for one: https://memoakten.medium.com/the-unreasonable-ecological-cost-of-cryptoart-2221d3eb2053
@rlafuente i think there's a critique to be made about introducing scarce "property rights" into the digital
"There is an arts history of working within crapularities. It runs at least from Fluxus to punk while its latest manifestation, meme culture, has gone down the road of reactionary nihilism. Crapularity aesthetics is thus in need of an update, through artists."
@rlafuente There is art and there is the art market/world. To ‘make it’ in the art world/market you will always need to adapt to the social rules and conventions of the art game.
The most important rule: make others (the network in power) believe that you create something rare and exceptional so people are ready to throw too much money at your art. The crypto art setup does not change anything about this. 1/2
@rlafuente Was there ever in art history a new technology that has changed the essence of the art world/market? Can not think of one.
If crypto art will play a role it will be only as yet another tool for investors to make fast money.
I don’t understand the obsession of many that crypto art is about ‘getting rid of middlemen’. And that it would be a good thing.
It will just recreate the same silly exclusivity game.
@hansup Your points are insightful, and I pretty much agree with your dismissive take. I'm still trying to find the terms to frame these discussions and your posts helped a lot, thank you
@rlafuente I sound probably more dismissive than I intended. I am not against any new tech in art. And I must confess that I am not an expert in the underlying technology. It is possible that someone is doing some great crypto art.
But in general I have no illusions about the art world. It is and will always be a tricky network game where money, power and ego are the most important features.
Crypto, bitcoin, blockchain, AI, or any other new tech kid in town won’t change that. 1/2
@rlafuente Also: I should sit and write down my thoughts in a real decent text, in stead of throwing a few here in the air... ;-) 2/2
The printing press changed writing, and the recording industry changed music. It's not a coincidence that realism became less important in paintings once photography was developed.
I think *The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction* by #WalterBenjamin addresses the topic, but I confess I've never read it.
@mpjgregoire @rlafuente Ah, yes Benjamin! :-)
Of course technology has an influence, but the essence of what is a work of art (visual, music, text) is, is not changed at all.
There is something about art at the core where technology can’t reach.
Art that is only about the use of some new or old technology is just a demo or showcase of that technology. That’s fine, but I am mostly interested in the part where and when technology and even language disappears.
@rlafuente @mpjgregoire Thanks for interesting article, although I still have to re-read it. ;-)
Also: the yahoo finance link does not show me the whole article.
Here I have the complete txt: https://www.coindesk.com/fascism-blockchain-art-nfts
@rlafuente Meanwhile making art is open for everyone everywhere. There are no rules to obey and there are plenty of ways to share and show. Some people are even willing to pay a reasonable amount for your creations. 2/2
@rlafuente I came across this, don't know anything about this guy, but he makes a good case that reports of extreme energy usage of crypto are greatly exaggerated, which is too bad because I really want to not like crypto art sales.
Things like NFTs just seems like a tech way for rich people to speculate over a scarcity that, unlike with physical paintings or sculpture, is completely artificial. As an artist, I want people to see my work and hopefully be inspired by it one way or another, the least interesting thing about art to me is squabbling over bragging rights of possession. Artificially introducing scarcity just seems wrong. Not sure it's worse than needing day jobs to survive though! Artists have to eat somehow.
@tomsart Completely agree that it's a hard choice for artists, especially when you see the amounts involved -- it's definitely seductive compared to the meager alternatives.
That was the reason for my original post being about arguments that go beyond environmental concerns, because 1. it's the subject of inflamed debate at the moment and 2. it might become a non-issue if the ETH people's plans come through, as they say the transition to a new model (PoS) would do away with the energy requirements (whether that scenario is feasible or close at hand is *also* the subject of hot debate)
So I'd suggest that it's more productive to approach the areas of discussion where there is still none, namely the other factors and externalities of this push for a crypto-based art commerce model.
That said, I'm really grateful for all the contributions in this thread, loving the discussion :-)
@rlafuente I think the naming of this practice is pretty bad and the whole fad will die soon even if the practice will stay. Overall it's not much different than signing a urinal.
@xuv Thanks for bringing up the naming thing! I'm still confused by the moniker "crypto-artists" as if their artistic practice was defined not by what the artworks are, but how they're sold
@rlafuente Yeah, cryptoart is something completely different. This thing is just copyright rebranded.
@rlafuente here is a short blog post by matt colquhoun on NFT: https://xenogothic.com/2021/02/19/solidarity-and-cryptocurrency-notes-on-nfts/
@Ketracel thanks for this. For all the conceptual framing I think the author too easily dismisses criticism of digital scarcity without explaining why. The historical references are insightful, but the conclusion is a bit of a buzzkill.
I also enjoyed this wrap-up of diverse takes around NFT: https://flash---art.com/2021/02/episode-v-towards-a-new-ecology-of-crypto-art/
HERE IS THE ARTICLE YOU CAN SEND TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY SAY “BUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES WITH CRYPTOART WILL BE SOLVED SOON, RIGHT?”
@rlafuente Coming a bit late to the debate: I would like to add that more than “reducing art to visual attractive formats”, it forces creating formatted content, ignoring the divesity and the history of internet art. For example a lot of animations are videos files or gifs, or best case, SVGs…
@rlafuente I don’t see how online performances, web-pages, collaborative art, reappropriations, HTML collage, game design (as art)… can be NFT compatible. For now NFTs restrict technical experimentation and lead to normalized practices.
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