On Friday, Kevin Abosch – an Irish conceptual artist who was one of the first to use blockchain technology as a medium – reported that one of his on-chain installations, an Ethereum wallet piece of art entitled “Stealing”, had been robbed The contents of this wallet is a crime “(2018).
In a tweet, the artist, whose work was on display at The Hermitage, said a CryptoKitty had been stolen from the freely accessible address:
Hi @ CryptoKitties / @ dapperlabs – Someone gave me a tip that “IAMA Kitty” was in the #crypto-wallet of my artwork “Stealing the contents of this wallet is a crime” (2018). I can confirm that it was just “stolen”. #IAMA #IAMACOIN #IAMAKitty pic.twitter.com/vq1RmktSs0
– Kevin Abosch (@kevinabosch) November 13, 2020
“Stealing The Contents …” is one of his “social experiments that challenge value systems” – a conceptual framework that is particularly suitable for the crypto world. A part of “Stealing The Contents …” included tokens that were deposited in the wallet from his piece “I Am A Coin” (2018). Ticker.
He described “stealing …” as a common playground for explorers, and the participants mostly reacted with goodwill and good humor: Ethereum-savvy art fans played with the occult implications of the blood stamps – for example, by putting .666 from IAMA in and out the wallet “steal …”, including hijinks.
“I think people just wanted to interact and therefore, in a sense, be part of the art,” Abosch said.
It was precisely these ideals that made the theft on Friday so cruel. Even to a room full of scammers, charlatans, and crooks, it seemed unusually mean to steal a CryptoKitty – one named in honor of his work – from a freely accessible wallet.
When Abosch was asked in an interview whether he was upset by the theft, he started to laugh.
“Actually, I stole it,” he confessed.
The perversion of digital scarcity
Abosch told Cointelegraph that a friend told him the kitty had been deposited in the wallet and gave the name “IAMA Kitty”. He assumed it was a gift from Dapper Labs meant for him.
“I thought I should have this,” he said.
However, Abosch made it clear that this cat break-in wasn’t going to be the start of a larger NFT collection or art collection. When the conversation turned to the state of blockchain-based art, he expressed dismay at a number of ongoing trends, starting with reviews of digital art, largely based on its rarity.
“I find something perverse about technical scarcity,” he said.
Bronze sculptures, he explained, are rare because sculptors can only afford so much bronze – there are inherent resource constraints in real-world art. The digital scarcity, on the other hand, is completely artificial.
He is also unimpressed by the current wave of artists releasing their work as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
“Many so-called crypto artists are shaping NFTs but only using blockchain technology as a tool to eradicate scarcity and as a platform to sell their work,” he said. “I don’t do a qualitative assessment of the work – I just challenge the nomenclature. Of course, there are artists whose work is thematically concerned with cryptocurrency and blockchain technology […] that seems to be more appropriate for the term crypto art. “
He went on to explain that pieces that use the technology in more innovative ways really excite him.
“What interests me more are pieces where blockchain is the method where the soul or the flesh of the piece is holistically woven into the blockchain,” he said. “The NFT is only talking to the platform that made the coin and sale easier.”
The wave of speculators and collectors turning to NFT-sponsored art also seemed to make him uncomfortable.
“I find that people buy art for one or more of three reasons: because they really want to experience the work, as a form of social evidence, or as an investment opportunity.”
Far too few, he implied, bought art for the experience.
He lamented that between the medium, the artists and the buyers, the current cryptoart landscape has effectively restored the foulest qualities of the old art world – what he called “one of the most corrupt industries on the planet” – both stingy fueled . Ego and hype.
A new generation of collectors
While Abosch’s complaints seem like the archetypal grumbling of an old head poo-poohing the new generation, he sees a ray of hope in NFT art madness: an upcoming community of art lovers focused on working on the chain.
“I wonder when crypto-brothers are debating the intangible nature of their art, whether they are dealing with the philosophical implications of materiality and property,” he grew. “There’s a whole younger generation of people who don’t get stuck on their bodies, even though they still crave the rare.”
Returning in a more sardonic tone, he went on to say the collectors would enjoy it better too because they could get stuck with their purchases for a while at current prices.
Too many are buying as an investment, he said, hoping to resell at a later date under an even more maddening NFT mania.
“I just don’t think there’s that much money around,” he warned. “There is a perception that this is a gold rush, but I’m not sure if there is gold in the hills.”
Regardless of his suspicions, he’ll have at least one cute NFT collector’s item.
“My kids said they wanted a kitten. Let’s see how they react. ”