Felix Stalder on Sun, 14 Mar 2021 01:09:32 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> what does monetary value indicate?

On 13.03.21 15:14, tbyfield wrote:
> 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

Ted, you, of all people, know that 'interesting' is not an attribute of
objects, but of questions, and that Venn diagrams indicate the absence
of any.

My question, which may well be uninteresting nevertheless, did not
concern digital art, art-system economics, or even cryptocurrencies,
para or not.

I was wondering if there is anything to be learned about what
constitutes monetary value, and for whom, by considering that somebody
is willing to pay, somebody is willing to facilitate and somebody
willing to accept, a cryptocurrency supposedly worth U$ 70 million for a
piece of meta-data conferring ownership over the 'original copy' of a
digital image.

One could say, as you do, it's all noise, non-value being paid for
non-art. A transient non-event.

One could say, as Brian suggested, this real, a form of conspicuous
consumption of a new elite with infinite money at hand, with art playing
its classic role of conferring status to money. If this is the case,
then two things would interest me. Why has NFT art become an object of
prestige? I mean, for this amount of money, one could have bought a
pretty mean yacht. So, what does it tell us about this social milieu
that such a purchase confers bragging rights? And, since money is power,
what are they planning to use this power for?

Or, perhaps, something different, money has somehow morphed into an
expressive medium in its own right. During the game-stop saga, I was
struck by people saying that they don't care if they would be losing
money because they were here to make a point. This is a very unusual
investment intention. Of course, this might well be a cynical strategy
where somebody told others they shouldn't care about losing money, so
s/he could gain more, and more easily, but even then, the fact that a
lot of people believed that somebody would think about investing in this
way, tells us something.

What value does 1000 bitcoins confer to the person holding it? At the
moment, seemingly U$ 60 million. Almost enough to buy an original copy
of a gif. But sell your bitcoins now? No way. As a believer in bitcoin,
you are convinced that if you hold it just long enough, then it will
become worth 600 million, 6 billion, or 60 billion. Particularly when
the next crash wipes out fiat money. On the other hand, you also know
that it could crash to zero in no time. If the Chinese government
decides to promote their crypto, bans bitcoin, and executes some
traders, things can turn quickly. So, it's a kind of quantum state,
everything and nothing at the same time. Why, then, not spend some of it
on a gif? no more, no less real, than the money that was spent on it.

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