Geert Lovink on Sun, 14 Mar 2021 10:55:49 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> what does monetary value indicate?

Dear nettimers,

I am happy Felix raised the issue here. As you all know we’ve been dealing with these issues, here at the Institute of Network Cultures, since 2013 when we started the MoneyLab network ( We’ve been dealing with the rise of crypto art from day one. For ther most part, as Ted described well, it’s been pretty geeky (to put it diplomatically). The dominant aesthetics remains one that is drawn from games, new age athletics and sci-fi: the best of 1970. Memes came in later and are still an application of it all and are not at the core of endeavour.

This all has not changed overnight over the past weeks. The current hype comes after the DAO desaster, then the rise and fall of tokens, the 2020 ‘DeFi summer’, the recent hyper rise of BTC, then GameStop and now the crypto art bubble. Money is pouring in, it is generated out of the blue, and as a consequences draws in more investors (the Elon Musk effect). This money now has be parked somewhere. As we need, the right-wing liberarian mindset is pretty introvert. It is not going to invest it in climate change tech or social anti-capitalist struggles. The crypto assets want more crypto, ergo one way to is crypto art.

Let me know if you are interest to form a tactical intervention gang. It is not enough to snub this topic off with the electricity argument. The central question remains how (digital) artists are going to make a living in the 21st century. The model of the free has been bankrupt for ages. There are now many experiments going on, from crowdfunding, basic income to the latest crypto art events...

Here an inspirational first step of Ben Grosser, who released Tokenize This ( a few days ago:

"A central construct of the booming cryptoart market is the creation of artificial scarcity through the “tokenization” of digital objects using NFTs. These certificates of ownership act as indexes to digital artworks, pointing anyone to the objects themselves (e.g., an image file on a server) and making possible the easy sale and resale of (presumed) ownership rights. This push towards commodification not only comes with high ecological costs (due to the energy use incurred with each cryptocurrency transaction) but also threatens to reconfigure the focus of many digital/software/net artists into the production of saleable and non-threatening work that is easily recognizable as “art” to the speculative finance crowd.

Tokenize This is a net art work that proposes one possible structure of resistance against the threats posed by NFTs. The site, available from, produces upon each new visit a “unique digital object” that includes a custom color gradient and guaranteed exclusive identification code, all referenced by a matching URL. Yet different from the typical website whose URLs act as persistent indexes to a page and its contents, Tokenize This destroys each work right after its creation. While the unique digital object remains viewable by the original visitor for as long as they leave their browser tab open, any subsequent attempt to copy, share, or view that URL in another tab, browser, or system, leads to a 404 “not found” error.

In other words, Tokenize This generates countless digital artifacts that can only be viewed or accessed once. While this structure doesn’t block someone from selling an NFT that points to a Tokenize This page, it does ensure that the page it points to will never be seen by the purchaser of that NFT. Most broadly, the work acts in opposition to the capitalist ideologies embedded in NFTs and the ways in which cryptoart markets have already thrust an often anti-capitalist and anti-corporate art medium into a 21st century gold rush get-rich-quick kind of frenzy."

For those interested I will post a special crypto art link list here from materials I compiled over the past weeks. I regularly post these links on the moneylab mailinglist and then later on the MoneyLab blog.

Best, Geert

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