:: Fungible Token ::

:: 2nd April 2021 :: An 'Artwork' & Statement of Protest against NFTs ::

Here, a certificate of authenticity has been crudely sellotaped to a small blank unsigned canvas (which is mostly obscured by the certificate). Time taken, including writing this text: about 15 minutes. Due care and attention given: minimal to none.

Fungible Token

Entirely fungible real object. All digital reproduction forbidden, except this accompanying photo with watermark. Elements of the 'artwork' (*cough*) have also been pixelated out which, along with the watermark, clearly indicate that this image is NOT the artwork, nor properly representative of it. Successful buyer will, in addition to payment (which is non-refundable, even if the artwork is not delivered, or indeed entirely fails to actually exist) also needs to publicly show the following:

i) Documentary evidence of past actions of sustained ecological damage, either through wilful environmental violence, or simple thoughtless lack of care, and/or excessive attention to one's own financial desires without reference to the wider needs of the planet. You can use some ad-hoc self-serving pseudo-spiritual reasonings to justify these actions if you want.

ii) Anecdotal evidence of previous attempts to disenfranchise marginalised artists through the theft of their art, their ideas, or otherwise co-opting their practice into your money-making scheme in which they benefitted only minimally, or were aggressively subjected to hidden costs.

Such things are what you're buying into when you buy/sell NFTs but this is something that you can at least hold in your hands as a physical object, despite its utter worthlessness and complete lack of any discernible artistic merit. It’s also more honest than anything on the blockchain.

Bidding starts at One Hundred Thousand Dollars!
Form an orderly queue!

Fungible Token in Storage

'Fungible Token' in storage (i.e., dumped) in the corner of my studio.
Being treated as a commodity, it is therefore worhtless as art...

"The latest, most ecologically ruinous manifestation of a longer arc in contemporary art: artistic products designed to fit the agendas and tastes of collectors and speculators, as opposed to art that tries to bend or shape those things and enact a conversation outside of financial imperatives." – Martin Herbert, 'Why Hucksters Rule the Artworld (and How To Stop Them)'

 

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:: On NFTs and this new, emerging art market - A Statement of Protest ::

“It’s unforgivable to participate in something which is so bleak and wrong.” - Nils Frahm

The art world has been suddenly set ablaze by NFTs, these digital certificates of authenticity that are in some cases selling for millions. I would jump into this in a heartbeat - I have so much digital media I could sell - but here are three reasons why I won’t be going anywhere near this toxic nonsense:

1. It's an ecological shitstorm. A single NFT transaction uses as much power as a single household's electricity for three days. That's a huge hidden cost, and the more the NFT blockchain grows, the higher the energy costs across the whole network for each transaction. We're currently living on a burning world, with the climate crisis starting to turn out like some of the worst projections: 2 to 3degC temperature rise by the year 2100. How anyone can justify accelerating this in the name of something so abstract as a digital certificate of authenticity is beyond me.

I've already seen some artists getting really eager for this new NFT market, and I’m like... hang on, haven’t you had three or four once-in-a-century hurricane/typhoon flood events in your region in the past 5-10 years? Climate change, and the hardships and miseries it is already causing, is real. The hidden costs of this absurdly hyped-up abstraction are also very real.

2. Recommendations. NFTs are not a ticket to artistic freedom. You have to submit your work for recommendation. Sure, you can still put your work up for sale, but if you are 'recommended', your work is exposed to a wider audience. So how do you get 'recommended'? Answer: by already having a large social media following, such as Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, etc etc. In other words, in order to be successful with NFTs, you have to already be successful. In order to get exposure on the NFT market, you already have to be popular or well-known.

Even a concussed duckling can see that inequality is hard-wired into this system, and it will make an already over-competitive, late-stage capitalism-infected artworld even more of a nightmare for actual creatives to operate in and work. And how long before 'recommendations' start to get bought and sold on the blockchain as a market in themselves? And then digital certificates of authentic recommendations, and so on…?

Just as neoliberalism promised in the 70s and 80s to free people from political elites, but ended up creating an even more powerful billionaire elite...
... and just as social media promised to be a wonderful place to express yourself, but ended up enfolding everyone in its all-pervasive algorithms that sell your personal data to anyone willing to pay - literally anyone, including aspiring Neo-Nazi political movements...
...so will the NFT market accelerate all the inequalities and problems already existing within the art world - and there are so, so many! But a few people will become billionaires so that’s ok.

3. Theft is even easier now in an unregulated free-for-all. People are already waking up to find that their tweets have been screen-grabbed and sold as NFTs by persons unknown, and graphic artists are discovering that their work - without their knowledge - is being turned into JPGs and animated GIFs so that the NFT market can continue to roll onwards in its expanding bubble. This is just yet another frontier that artists and creatives have to guard against, forcing them either to have a presence on the system in order to protect against theft - and therefore contributing to the expanding inequality and ecological shitstorm - or to employ lawyers to defend them against further theft, a financial outlay beyond the means of most artists.

Don’t fall for this ridiculous NFT hype. It only serves the interests of those who are already wealthy, have the financial means to shield themselves from whatever environmental damage it causes, and have a major stake in markets expanding whatever the costs to real-live humans. I hope this stupid bubble will burst, and burst soon. If you see any of my art or music on the blockchain, it's stolen.

 

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:: Useful Links on the NFT market, blockchains and environmental damage ::

Martin Herbert, Art Review - 'Why Hucksters Rule the Artworld (and How To Stop Them)

Nils Frahm on NFTs, Music Radar Magazine

NFTs are Hot, So is Their Effect on the Earth’s Climate, Wired Magazine

Everest Pipkin on Medium - “But the environmental issues with cryptoart will be solved soon, right?”

The hidden cost of the craze for non-fungible tokens, The Guardian

Non-fungible tokens are revolutionising the art world – and art theft, The Guardian

Ketan Joshi: Bitcoin is a mouth hungry for fossil fuels

 

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are copyrighted to Bruce Rimell and may not be reproduced in any form unless stated otherwise.