tbyfield on Sat, 13 Mar 2021 15:16:14 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> what does monetary value indicate?

Felix, your questions have triggered some noise (what doesn't these days?) but they don't seem to have generated much light. But some parts of the world are pretty much consigned to darkness

If I drew a venn diagram of how uninteresting mass digital art, the art-systems economics, and cryptographic para-currencies have become, you'd think it was just a circle. There was a time when all three of these areas were fascinating, but in each the substantive groundwork was laid decades ago. What's happening now no longer has any intrinsic relation to the specific, let's say 'crafty,' details of these area. What's happened is they've become mass phenomena: the driving force is massification, and the action is just frothy wealth sloshing around, guided, to the extent that it's guided at all, by the peculiar interests of the people and institutions forming new constellations. The best metaphor is 'elephant toothpaste:


It isn't driven by any innovation in, or expansion of, the capacity to produce hydrogen peroxide or potassium iodide — it's just an arbitrary chemical reaction whose spectacular effects read well on social media.

We can ask why now, as Rachel does, talk about hoaxes as Stefan does, or lament the environment impact as John does, but I don't see any of those lines of inquiry leading anywhere insightful or definitive. At a certain point in history, the cost–benefit of digging down in an effort to find something 'real' will become — like art bubbles, crypto-currencies, and assorted media objects — little more than an arbitrary way of framing some variation on 'proof of work.' Do you really think that, a decade or two from now, we'll look back with 20/20 hindsight and regret ignoring this froth because it turned out to be seminal (or germinal) in some respect? I don't. There are lots of non-events we were right to ignore as noise. This conjuncture is one of them.


On 11 Mar 2021, at 11:46, Felix Stalder wrote:

> I'm sure many have followed the NFT art saga over the last couple of
> months and seen today's headline that somebody just paid $ 69,346,250
> for a NFT on a blockchain, meta-data to claim ownership of the
> "originalcopy" of a digital art work.
> https://onlineonly.christies.com/s/first-open-beeple/beeple-b-1981-1/112924
> I don't want to start a discussion on the revolutionary vs reactionary
> character of this emerging art market. All of that has already been
> said. If you want a close approximation of my perspective, I refer you
> to this:
> https://everestpipkin.medium.com/but-the-environmental-issues-with-cryptoart-1128ef72e6a3
> What I'm more interested in here is to ask two things.
> What -- after a decade of quantitative easing and crypto-currencies
> rising into the stratosphere -- monetary value is indicating for the
> segment that profited the most from these developments and what does
> that mean for the rest of us?
> And, assuming that this is not a cartoon version of a potlatch where
> wasting resources serves to put rivals to shame, how many different
> scams -- money laundering would be an obvious contender -- are being
> layered on top of one other to create this?
> Quite puzzled. Felix

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