A recurring experience of modern life is to unlock the old smartphone and glimpse the future, or the possible future, as the increasing pace of digital technology unifies global culture and propels us ever further into a world that our ancestors would have considered magical. A disheartening aspect of this experience is that the new magical world inevitably seems silly – not silly in the sense of trivial or easy, as in most cases these new technologies are extremely difficult to understand, let alone invent, but silly in the sense of trivial or easy. meaning at best deadening and inert, and actively boring at worst, like the world’s most advanced synthesizer with a hamster running across the keys.
This is what NFTs make me feel: as if the future is useless but costly, and the world-changing technology is now in the hands of a culture so aesthetically and spiritually impoverished that it maybe should. start telling stories around the kitchen fire again for a while. , just to remember how to mean something.
Let me give you an example. Here is what Sean Ono Lennon harnessed the power of an instant global communications network to tweet to his 331,000 followers earlier this month:
My first response to this tweet was to reassess Lennon as some sort of genius satirist. Then I got scared, because I think he might not be kidding. SkullxNFT is really a non-fungible token offering that Lennon seems to be seriously promoting – or at least Actually promotion, because the level of seriousness with which a fully socialized adult male (even if he grew up in a strange nutrient bath in which celebrity offspring grows up) might view these images of howling skulls as “getting serious” is impossible to determine. . But they’re for sale, and you can buy them. As of this writing, many of the cheapest NFT skulls are available for ETH 0.015, i.e. 0.015 Ethereum, or around $ 61.
Ethereum is, of course, a cryptocurrency that someone’s boyfriend has probably told you about before. NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are a different application of the blockchain technology that cryptocurrency works on: basically, the seller of the NFT image generates a corresponding token that only one person can own at a time – from the same way a single person can own a given Bitcoin, that is to say symbolically but also in a reliable way because of its documentation on a transaction record (the blockchain) which is not kept on a single server but rather distributed among all peers participating in the blockchain protocol.
The idea is to create scarcity and hence ownership conditions for digital images, so that while people can still copy your badass skull type photo and paste it somewhere for their own purposes, like I did, you “own” the image in the sense that you have a clear claim that you paid money for it, and later you can sell that claim to someone else who has it. considers significant and important to, presumably, profit. This is how the NFT property works: anyone can copy and paste your house, but your name is on the deed, and the metaphorical recording room can’t burn down or anything because everyone has copies of the recordings on a peer-to-peer network they can access through their personal computers, which can be found alongside their erotic Sailor Moon poster.
This generalization may be unfair. And yet, there is something about the aesthetics of NFTs – not a sameness, exactly, but a particular deficiency that they all partake of, so that even though they look different, they all manage to suck cock. same way. It’s tempting to say they suck as everything sucks now, but it sounds more like how a particular strain of American aesthetics has sucked in the past 20 years. NFTs are the human capacity for visual expression as understood by the guy at the vape store. There is the predominance of skulls. There is the melodramatic deployment of visual language of video games, as if romanticism had been invented by people who never went out. There is the dual adolescent theme of aggression and boredom, as in the NFT Bored Ape Series, some of which are now valued at over $ 300,000 and all of which depict chimpanzees in human clothes appearing to be bored.
All Bored Apes are clearly made from the same template: a three-quarter profile of a chimpanzee with the same nose, the same head shape and the same ears, variously embellished by different combinations of accessories: earrings , open mouth, beard, laser eyes. In this way, too, the Bored Apes take on the quality of teenagers seen from the point of view of adults, that is to say all the same but boast of being unique according to the color of the hair and the clothes. And this adolescent sensibility of NFTs, their tendency to express the values ââof an underdeveloped soul, is not only aesthetic but also social.
NFTs are the human capacity for visual expression as understood by the guy at the vape store.
To consider Floydies, a self-proclaimed “activism platform” selling quality MS Paint portraits of George Floyd in various costumes. I would like to think that this project is misguided, rather than cynical to the point of being offensive. It’s hard to imagine the reasoning that came from the riots of last year to these images, let alone the artistic sensibility of whoever might buy them, but I suspect it has nothing to do with art or sensitivity, how your pork bellies dealer isn’t particularly interested in pigs.
This kind of massive blind spot when it comes to visual art as anything but a commodity is also evident in the images Lennon sells on the street; the first two skulls featured in his tweet are trivial, but the third is, uh, steeped in history. What we have there is a Nazi guy in the head. The idea that Lennon, who presumably had access to as many educational and social resources as possible, might look at this photo and think, “What’s in a skull in a black trench coat and a hat?” leather with wings that looks so badass? Well it’s time to make a Million Dollars! Is funny at first and then extremely depressing.
The man is 46 years old. Her stupid judgment on “cute NFTs for little babies” – a middle-aged man who laughs at your child for watching Peppa Pig, offers to show her some real art for mature adults, then pulls out a picture of Batman saying “damn” – captures the whole issue of NFT as a trend in contemporary art. The technology is new and therefore quite interesting, but the content is hampered by the lack of aesthetics of everyone involved. It is as if the whole discipline of photography consists of images of shirtless George Eastman holding a samurai sword.
And that’s why the future, whether it’s NFT or Memoji or the screaming existential horror of the Metaverse, looks so ugly and boring: It reflects the stunted inner lives of financial and financial professionals. technology that produced it. As a visual manifestation of cryptocurrency, NFT art combines the nuanced social consciousness of computer programmers with the stirring whimsy of hedge fund managers. It’s art for people whose imaginations have been absolutely captivated by a new kind of money you can make on the computer.
It is also obviously a pyramid scheme, in which the need for a salable commodity is imperative and constantly renewed, but the commodity itself does not matter because it is useless – not even useless as everything. art is useless because you can get the pictures and whatever food grains your hungry little soul can find there for free, but useless like a used stamp is useless, useless like a receipt or a torn envelope. NFTs are an opportunity for commerce disguised as art, just as so many ostensibly significant 21st century experiences turn out to be opportunities for spending money disguised as life.
“What’s a skull in a black trench coat and a leather hat with wings on it that looks so badass?” Well it’s time to make a Million Dollars! “
That’s how they feel to me, anyway. Presumably there is someone there right now – not Lennon but one of those disciples, someone who constantly calls him “Sean Ono Lennon, whose father was John Lennon of The Beatles, one of the greatest bands of all time “at a speed 1.5 times faster than normal conversation – which saw SkullxNFT and experienced it as one of the most beautiful and moving arts in history, right up there with the Mona Lisa and Avengers: Endgame.
This person is extremely happy with the future as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg and Bored Ape Yacht Club imagined, a future of personalized avatars and people all over the world competing for status in a virtual world where we finally solved the problem of how to create scarcity when nothing is real. This person can’t wait to turn on the old smartphone and check the price of Ethereum every morning. He knows the future is in good hands, and it will look exactly like the content of his imagination – Travis Scott’s Instagram, pornography, and Assassin’s Creed. The future is his, for he is willing to pay it, as are a million other bored monkeys in human clothes who are like him.