• Laura Gompertz

NFTs and Crypo Art - the Opposite of Eco

It's been a steep learning curve for me this weekend after I delved into the Twitterworld of #NFTs and #CryptoArt


Bitcoin has passed me by, but the use of crypto currency in the art world seems like a new way to market your art.


As far as I can tell, Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs are used to buy a share or stake in the piece that has been created. Rather like selling a limited edition print but with the added ease that the new owner can reproduce the image themselves and are indeed encouraged to market it to promote its fame and reputation. The theory is this increases the value of the work. The owners have verified ownership and you can see every transfer of title in the reseller market thorough blockchain.


I'm still uncertain how, if the art buyer then sells on the work, they don't still have ownership of the jpeg files and can still do what they want with them....??


The primary reason for the art work seems to be for display on a TV screen when it's not in use to watch programmes. Or as a screen background on a phone. It's easy to rotate between different art works and storage is virtual, so saves space. This would be especially good if you had a collection of video art as it's difficult to access this otherwise.


However, for more conventional 2D works, I do feel that even a framed print catches the attention in a better way. A painted picture has a lot more interest in the the paint strokes and texture as a real object that is totally lost on a tv screen. The art would incline to all being the same size on a tv screen as well.


On a cursory glance, the current art that is widely sold is in the genre of computer games or graffiti art such as you might see around Brick Lane. However, I'm sure that this is merely the start of a new market and other styles will also become available for those with other tastes.


So is this a great new market waiting to be tapped as an alternative to galleries, art fairs, on-line sales portals like Artfinder or Saatchi Art or Instagram?


Here is the problem - it seems that setting up and running these blockchains to verify ownership consume huge amounts of electricity. How has needing a certificate of ownership turned into a vast power consumer? It seems crazy! And showing your art collection on a permanently 'on' tv is hardly going to save the planet!


So the dilemma presents itself - is it worth thinking laterally about this despite the environmental downside? ...and what is the power consumption of the rest of the on-line art industry and other selling possibilities?


My art is not a good fit for the current crypto art styles but it's clearly early days and a very new market. Is there a way to market more traditional styles of art to digital buyers but at a lower environmental cost and not using NFTs?


It's so easy to transfer a jpeg file, but I would need to accept that what happened to it subsequently would be at the whim of the purchaser and I would have essentially sold the rights to that image, no matter if there were copyright laws. Infringement would be so hard to enforce that it would be better to accept that the image was given away entirely...but it could be as a limited edition. Would an email certificate not count for authentication? This would avoid the power-hungry blockchain problem. However, I can see any resale would be hard for an artist to track and reap any financial benefit from. So maybe the blockchain is mainly for this purpose?


Maybe limited edition digital files will become an alternative option to standard giclee prints available alongside an actual original art work?


A good clear article on the subject is here:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-26/cryptocurrency-millionaires-fuel-a-boom-in-digital-art-market



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