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The now famous NFTs, saviors of digital art or the scam of contemporary art 2.0?

March, 29; 2021. By
Everydays - The First 5000 Days - A Beeple digital art work
Everydays - The First 5000 Days - A Beeple digital art work
The existence of the now famous NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens) has recently become apparent in our society, which are basically certificates of authenticity of digital works whose veracity can be verified by being inserted in a blockchain, chains to date impossible to alter or trick.

Well, after having said information reached the office of this publication, we have seriously wondered if this fact supposes the salvation of digital art as a whole or is it simply the scam of contemporary art 2.0, and rather we are inclined to think that it is the second, as we will explain well in the subsequent article.

What you have to ask yourself is, first, what are the differences between a classic plastic work and a digital one. The main difference is that in the digital work the copies can be perfect and identical to the original, and many copies can also be made since they take up little space (a certain data chain on a hard drive lost by the hand of God in our little world), therefore, de facto, "the original disappears" since the copy is identical, and therefore, the fetishism towards the "original work" that existed in classical art disappears.

Then come the NFTs that are nothing more than a certificate of digital authenticity inserted in an unalterable chain (for the moment) of blockchain. In other words, the NFTs, as far as traditional art is concerned, resemble that document issued by the artist saying that the work is authentic, the name of the buyer and the rights that the latter contracts. This paper is sometimes put behind the work in the frame and there it stays, it does not have much interest to say, unless there is some dispute regarding the authenticity of the original work that it accompanies. It is, let's put it like this, a document, like people's ID, or a kind of contract that outside the legal level lacks all kinds of interest.

Well, the artist known as Beeple, recently sold his digital work "Everydays - The First 500 Days" to an unknown buyer who has paid more than 60 million dollars to get the NFT (that is, the certificate of original digital work) of this collage. With this movement, we all have got to know the NFTs, the artist has pocketed 60 million dollars or more, and thus becomes the third most expensive living artist in history, behind Jeff Koons and David Hockney (note that none of these two artists have a record in this publication, and that the digital artist in question, Beeple, will not have it either). Previously the NFT of the animated GIF Nyan Cat was sold for a good sum of money as well.

So, does this mean the salvation of digital art, or is it the art 2.0 scam, as we have argued in the title of this article? Clearly, this seems without a doubt a new type of trick, scam, fraud, or whatever you want to call it, since it is something that does not contribute anything to the art world, but rather moves in the speculative field. That is to say, the work that Beeple has sold, if we take away all the fuss that has been mounted by the NFT thing, does it have any artistic interest? Furthermore, do NFTs solve the main characteristic of digital art, that is, that the copy is identical to the original and on top of that there are many copies? In other words, is seeing the "authentic" work a different experience than seeing an identical copy? Can NFTs prevent works from being copied? If, for example, NFTs could make unauthorized copies self-destruct (or, in a humorous tone, that anyone possessing an unauthorized digital copy received a small electric shock to discourage them from pirating content), then for the artist and for the art this would have something of value, since only the original work would remain in the world, and could even solve the problem of piracy. But this is not the case, so the existence of a digital paper that certifies the authenticity or the owner of a work by validating it because this document has been inserted in an inviolable blockchain chain is absolute nonsense for the art world.

There may also be certain aberrations, such as that the certified work is false or a vile copy of another or has within it some violation of any current copyright; then what would be certified is the vileness of the supposed artist. For example, we could create an NFT from a photo of La Gioconda by Leonardo da Vinci, but this would not be more than a supine nonsense, the scam of the "tocomocho" (a very famous Spanish fraud), or the seller who wanted to sell the Eiffel Tower to a tourist.

In addition, in a world in which in some countries like Spain money is losing its value, following in the wake of what Carl Marx asked in his postulates, in addition to John Lennon (of The Beatles) and other artists in his songs, already that as we know in that country and in much of Europe health services are universal and do not cost money, as well as basic education, this whole issue of exceeding with a figure the price paid for a work of art, now that the money is worth less, is little more or less than irrelevant. The really interesting thing would be to get enough money so that the Prado Museum, for example, would be willing to sell Velázquez's Las Meninas, that is, for how much money, and to whom, the canvas could be sold. The answer is easy: it is not for sale.

Beyond this, the one who writes these lines, who has created several digital works to date, including some animated GIFs and also full-length films, considered issuing an NFT for some of his works, but discarded the idea as it was certainly crazy, since it would not solve the main problem of digital art, which is the ability to copy it.

Anyway, we are now reaching the end of this article and, without going into more details, we can qualify this of NFTs as a joke of art, something superficial, a way to sell more bitcoin, something that occurs around art, but that neither glorifies it nor it solves any problem, nor does it modify it in any way.