The Crypto Bubble’s Burst. What Will Happen to the NFT Artworld? Charlotte Kent, δημοσίευση στο ArtReview [20/1/2023]
NFTs will neither save the world nor destroy it, but the fractures in its market reveal critical fixes needed in both the contemporary and crypto art space
Over the last year, the collision of art and NFTs has been discussed largely in terms of sales and markets, especially given the ongoing decline in cryptocurrency values, but the more interesting conversations have been about the impact each had on the other. Dialogues in the artworld that have wound through the last 60 years – on artist compensation, art criticism, contemporary aesthetics and how to contextualise them historically, institutional engagement with digital art, collective action, art centres and margins, and ecological concerns – have all been revisited in the context of this emergent technology. Blockchain technology values a decentralised and more equitable market practice, introducing a set of ideologies in keeping with many contemporary art concerns, while also challenging certain practices. But as established artworld participants engaged with these issues, they introduced a discourse steeped in history and theory, to critique easy claims towards a better model proffered by some in the NFT space. The collision, therefore, offered a critical lens on both.
If the crypto and NFT explosion of 2021 popularised the ideal of an intermediary-less, decentralised market for digital culture, the power of NFT market players became evident in 2022. One of the most widely used marketplaces, Open Sea, banned two collections mimicking Bored Ape Yacht Club and the Meta Birkin collection at the end of 2021 for potential IP violations, and subsequent lawsuits foreshadowed ongoing regulation internationally. NFTs – bits of code providing a unique ID to a digital artefact such that it can be distinguished from other potentially duplicate versions – make possible the automation of resale payments, sales parameters and other unforeseen new features. In April 2020, led by former painter and generative artist Matt Kane, many crypto artists successfully established a 10 percent resale royalty at Super Rare that became standard across NFT platforms, so there was a predictable outcry when Sudoswap launched in the summer of 2022 with no royalty framework, leading to a debate about platform and collector support of such payments. This fracturing of support for royalties has ramifications across the artworld as new businesses like Fairchain and Arcual seek to enable digital certificates and payment for secondary sales of physical works.
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