Is the NFT a modern art movement, seriously?

Great art often has humble beginnings.

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) is widely regarded as a father of modern abstract art, but he was not always a hit with critics.

They wrote: “This is not art, this is a joke in bad taste!” “, Just” like a mop of tangled hair. ” He couldn’t sell his first exhibits, worked in a studio with no electricity or heat, and was so broke at one point that he had to pay for groceries with his paintings.

Today his paintings rank among the largest in Western history and the most expensive in the world – north of $ 200 million!

Now hold on to that thought for a second.

In 20 years, art critics who trashed non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will look back and declare them as the defining point of 21st art of the century. They will have a complete change of mind, or a “critical reassessment” to be polite.

The Tate will be hosting a large-scale retrospective exhibition for the creator of EtherRocks, which remains anonymous. CryptoPunks will be inducted into the Smithsonian as a “National Treasure”. The computer code behind Bored Apes will evolve into an AI life form and receive the Congressional Gold Medal. The coin, you guessed it, is an NFT.

NFT art, if one is to generalize, is neither abstract nor humble. NFTs are loud and kitsch. They are already reaching record prices at Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

They can represent anything or everything – from the most basic visual building block, a single gray pixel (last sold for $ 1.4 million), to an entire digital metaverse in multimedia, 3D and reality formats. increased (AR).

The most intuitive comparison of NFT art is with that of Andy Warhol (1928-1987) because it is decidedly “commercial” (which is not a good thing to say to an artist at the time. ).

He’s the guy who painted popular everyday items like soup cans and Coke Campbell bottles and elevated them to art. He reproduced and iterated head-shot photographs like those of Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, and even Mao Zedong with colorful, playful elements – like what we see with the current trend of Profile Pictures (PFP) in NFT.

Warhol combined mass industrial technology (screen printing) with classical artistic techniques, raising eyebrows at the time. He didn’t care to produce some of his art that bears his name, and he didn’t care.

Today, many NFT works are digitally generated by computers. The main creators are more likely to be companies with “Labs” in their name or individuals who prefer to stay under a pseudonym like “Pak”. Really, the medium is the message in NFT art.

Originality is overrated – and that was Warhol’s central idea.

One of the biggest criticisms of NFT is that it is mass reproducible. Replicas and counterfeits are everywhere. Ownership of an NFT is not copyright, there is no legal title, and anyone can freely duplicate a JPEG file on the Internet – so what’s the point?

For Warhol, the more counterfeit copies (of his Marilyns), the more valuable the real one – and provenance is the one thing NFT does better than all other art forms.

In a 1964 interview, Warhol was criticized by the press for his lack of originality: “You just copied a common element. Why did you go to the trouble of doing it, why not create something new? “To which he replied:” Because it’s easier to do!

But there is a darker side to it than we make it appear.

The crypto community has always been tribal in nature. And it shows in the way they interact with art. It’s not just about being granny like putting on laser eyes, driving Lamborghinis, or using lingo like HODL and REKT.

“Conspicuous consumption” seems to be a virtue – the nouveau riche show off their newfound crypto wealth. Gone are the days when wealthy art collectors hid their precious stash to prevent theft: art would disappear from public view; offers are discreet and undisclosed.

Now NFT buyers are openly tweeting about it and bragging about how much they paid. They display it on their avatars as a status symbol. If you don’t keep up, well, HFSP (have fun staying poor)!

Perhaps this fits with Warhol’s concept of mass fame, where everyone has their 15 minutes of fame. He speaks beyond that, however.

For the crypto community, to be decentralized is to be atomized, isolated and faceless. But “alone together”, they are a global tribe, and this tribe needs a transport card, an identity; which may explain why sushi and spaghetti are not food, but DeFi protocols. Dog plays are never about dogs, but dogma that gets you into silly fights. Everyone has an inside Feels Guy. And all greet Elon, the moon god of the village.

With NFT art, he opened the door to individuation. It’s not just about personal fame. If you devote enough time to it, you might find it utterly absurd, surreal and performative – which are, by the way, features of modern art movements.

The NFT community is aware of itself, but does not take itself seriously. You can’t tell if it’s a cult or a circus and neither can those who are part of it.

For Warhol’s sake, where will the NFT art go from here?

A sign of his own confidence, he pays more and more homage to the ancestors of modern art: Salvador Dali’s lobster was NFTed by DJ Paul Oakenfold. Piet Mondrian’s plastics can be personalized as cool GIFs and made into NFT. Warhol’s banana in NFT wrapper was sold at Christie’s for $ 3.3 million. The list goes on.

May greatness return to those who shamelessly copy!

The author is co-founder of Celebrus Advisory and an official member of the Tech Expert Network by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).


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Featured Image Credit: Crypto Art Culture



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