Domenica Quaranta discussing NFTs

Thursday 5th August, 2021 - Bruce Sterling

*And he’s talking sense.


But the main point here is that the vast majority of the NFTs filling up blockchains nowadays are actually disenfranchised digital assets controlled by oversimplified smart contracts, and that (despite their promises) can offer little guarantee in terms of authorship, authenticity, scarcity, implementation of artist’s rights, and duration over time.


In the NFT market, middlemen and gatekeepers don’t disappear either: they are simply replaced by other gatekeepers, in a social structure that may be more horizontal, decentralized and informal than the elitist contemporary art world, but it’s not necessarily better. Where your power, authority and ability to act meaningfully depend not on the books you wrote, exhibition you curated, studies you made, institutions you worked for, but on how popular you are on social networks and how much money you have in your crypto wallet. Where gatekeeping is transferred in the hands of those who evaluate applications, who can invite you in or vote you out, and of those who can collect artworks and build galleries and museums on virtual land.

Meanwhile, thousands of artists are entrusting their works to start-ups that didn’t exist last year and that there’s no guarantee they will last for long; companies that don’t verify their identity and authorship, and that rarely promote their work. Some of these artists are at least making some bucks, most are just paying the gas fees and working for such companies….