A thread unroll of a text about ntfs and digital art I posted on Twitter today.

I wrote a text about nfts from a digital art perspective but wasn’t very happy with it. Instead I condensed it into these 18 tweets. I hope you find some interesting angles.

+++ I don’t need to own art. +++

A thread:

Blockchain, nfts and smart contracts are not the new medium. The driving force in making art with nfts is a very old one: It is money! Andy Warhol: „Making money is art, good business is the best art.“ The promise of ‘getting rich quick!’. Sadly money is the medium here.

The art market is governed by money. Success of art works is measured in prices. This is not helping the quality of art, on the contrary it often distorts the art. Congrats! We have the same system in place for digital art now. Ownership mindset in a space of abundance.

Science built a very powerful and open Web/Internet with no commerce in mind. We’ve already lost the openness to the mega platforms. Now the crypto-bros try to add a full blown digital property layer on top of everything. This will not help make the world a better place.

It’s the irony of history that netart of the 90s, which explored a true new medium is returning now in this flat form of expensive jpgs. Back then the art world didn’t know how to handle netart. Today nfts enter the market from the very top with record auction sales.

The Post Internet generation, which came from netart was the first one to successfully enter the commercial art world. Because they made sculptures and prints after the Internet. But suddenly jpgs and gifs online are the big financial winner. The Internet art paradox.

Now there is again a vibrant scene of online art going on and certainly interesting works are being produced. But the nft space is annoyingly loud with a lot of toxic stories and desperate jpgs. It hurts to see established digital artists in crypto whale group show auctions.

Yes, make netart. Build websites. It’s great you finally can live from it. But don’t rip off your fan base with 1000$ podcast bundles. Whales have endless coins while people with no money buy in for 0.3 Eth out of FOMO. At least make sure they get something real and it lasts.

Many articles and videos explained already why the crypto game is a pyramid scheme. For people in the traditional art market this is not a real problem. Because it is the same game there. Attention hype, art clowns, rigged markets, pump and dump and so on. This is fine.

Galleries love nfts but institutions and museums with public funding have a different responsibility. Think hard about what you are showing and why? With nft shows you are normalizing a problematic and wasteful system. Critical works don’t need to be on but about blockchains.

It was beautiful to witness the past 20 years, to see digital art evolve. Yes, there have always been trends, discussion and unexpected forks. But the current hype about ntfs is a game changer. Despite my criticism I understand the attraction of the unique identifiable file.

I proposed this idea even myself ten years ago. But already back then @GIFmodel pointed such a system would not help the art in netart. And here we are: massive pyramid speculation with jpgs and museums losing tokens send to a wrong wallet address. https://web.archive.org/web/20130914141217/http://ny-magazine.org/issues.html

I was naive about art markets but interested to see digital art being represented better in the art world. For this I created exhibition formats like “Speed Shows” in internet cafes or routers on gallery walls, “Offline Art”. http://speedshow.net/ https://arambartholl.com/offline-art-new2/

At the @MovingImageNYC visitors could burn a DVD outside the museum building or “Full screen” was a show with works on smart watches. I was interested seeing netart in the space, bound to situations, breaking expectation. https://arambartholl.com/dvd-dead-drop/ https://arambartholl.com/full-screen/

I wonder what will be left in a decade or two of the nft production from the last couple years. It is an interesting phenomenon from a Internet folklore point of view. Massive amounts of poor images being produced in hope of getting rich quick. A feast for net anthropology?

Once this hype will fade and the art crowd moves on to the next new thing, nfts will become another chapter of digital art, and people will wonder how crazy that was. @errafael pointed this out in context of the Wikipedia case rejecting nfts as art.

In his book “Krypto Kunst” german art critic @koljareichert delivers a very nuanced extensive analysis of what’s going with nfts and crypto art but in a podcast interview he concludes with “… to watch animations on screens is boring.” I don’t agree.

I love digital art. There is such a rich history of screen based works. It is important to acknowledge and remember them. Especially because working digitally became so normal in all kinds of art practices. The nft hype hasn’t brought much new to the table, except toxic $$.

I don’t need to own art.