Is crypto art really art?

Is crypto art really art?

The phenomenon of the NFT (unique non-fungible object) continues to grow unstoppably. In Spain, skepticism still prevails and NFT transactions are below 1%, compared to 5% internationally, but perhaps the situation will begin to change next month. The first European NFT fair, Cryptoart Island, will take place from April 29 to May 4 in Gibraltar. As headliners are the Spanish digital artists Javier Arrés and Gala Mirissa.

Critics attack the quality of these pieces and the questions arise: is crypto art really art? What matters, is it the content or the possession? “Art must not be confused with marketing,” Maribel López, director of Arco, recently warned. Although she thought it likely that virtual galleries would be represented with spaces at the fair, she clarified that there should be no rush to equate NFTs with art. “Now is the time for artists to think about how this can be part of their work,” she pointed out.

“I prefer to go easy,” says José Carlos Casado, a Spaniard who has lived in New York since 1998 and who joined the Postmasters gallery, which has represented artists working with digital art since the 1990s. The videos that Tobias Gremmler created for Björk in 2021 closely resemble the piece bin10sex that Casado presented in 2001 at the Sundance online festival. “Current artists seek gold in the rivers of crypto,” he comments. Others resist. Composer Brian Eno is a clear opponent of creating NFT. “Anything worthwhile involves creating something that adds value to the world, not just to a bank account, he declared in an interview with The Crypto Syllabus. “Now artists can become little capitalist idiots.”

But there are many who fear being left out of the ecosystem if they do not integrate this technology that advances frantically. The scenario not only changes, but also becomes increasingly complex. The most coveted thing now in the NFT market is exclusivity. Bored Ape Yacht Club is a collection of crypto art that is making waves. It consists of 10,000 NFTs of boring monkey portraits that can cost up to $300,000 each. The buyers are part of a private club and more and more celebrities are buying them (Madonna, Eminem, Serena Williams and Steve Aoki, among them). Many begin to use them as an avatar on social networks.

But there is more. In November 2021, the first secret NFTs were announced, in which the information remains encrypted: the content and the price, as well as the identity of the buyers can be anonymous. The idea was promoted by SCRT Labs and its Secret Network, a blockchain private. It was easy to arouse the interest of investors when they revealed that Quentin Tarantino would be the first to sell this type of work: he would put up for sale seven with unpublished scenes from Pulp Fiction, accompanied by audios and fragments of the script. A couple of months later, the AnonDAO collective bought the first one, Royale with Cheese, for 1.1 million dollars. But there wasn’t much room for celebration, as Tarantino was sued by Miramax, the film’s production company, for breach of contract, unfair competition, and copyright and trademark infringement. The director alluded to the fact that he had reserved rights, but the sale of the collection has been paralyzed until the case is resolved. The situation exemplifies that the legal framework of NFTs is still to be defined in many circumstances.

Samuel Edwards
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