A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a gentleman who claims to have seen some of my artwork on Ello, and he offered to let me in on a beta-test for a new artist website that uses Ethereum block-chain technology to create Crypto-Art: digital artworks that have a limited number of editions, are bought and sold using “ETHER” (which is something like Bitcoin), and which keeps a permanent provenance of the ownership of the individual editions of specific works of art.
This sounds very MATRIX to me, but I’m fascinated by crypto-shit and block-chain garbage, partially because I don’t quite understand how it works, and just a bit because I think it probably has something to do with the future (where I’ve always wanted to live…) Now, I’ve been burned NUMEROUS times by the “TECHNOLOGY OF THE FUTURE!” (Does anybody remember Jaz drives? I’ve got a bunch of digital music that I produced on Jaz disks, but no Jaz drive to play them with anymore…)
Before I bothered to register for this new artist site, I looked into this whole Ethereum / Crypto thing, and found out that there are already a bunch of people playing a “game,” called CryptoKitties, that uses this technology, and in this game, you collect one-of-a-kind digital cats, which you can buy and sell and breed (I guess), but which can’t be duplicated. Unlike Pokemon, where everyone gets a Pikachu, this CryptoKitties game only has unique “cats,” and some of them are going for ridiculously high prices already. Apparently (for some crazy people) digital collectibles are already a THING. So—how impossible is it for there to be “collectible” digital art? I mean, it’s fucking WEIRD, but it’s happening.
With a physical painting or a piece of sculpture or a figurine or a postcard or a poster, your ART is right there, on the wall or on the shelf. You can see it and touch it (or destroy it) and all that kind of thing, right there, in the real world. But what do you do with a DIGITAL piece of art. I suppose you can start a digital gallery? (Is that a thing yet?) Now that I think about it, most people have their PHOTOS on their phones now… (“Want to see some pictures of my kids at Disneyland? We had such a great time!” Takes phone out of pocket and starts flicking…) How different is that from buying a digital piece of art and accessing it with your tablet or laptop? It’s a way to give some dough to an artist and, in a weird way, feel like you’re dipping your toe into the currents of the future… (Just like in Tron!)
I’m not sure how it’s going to go, but I registered for the site and uploaded a new piece of art. (As in, a piece of art that NO ONE HAS SEEN YET! That’s right, an EXCLUSIVE! If you want a look at this new piece, go HERE, although I should say, it’s pretty sketchy!) I’ve decided to make it part of a limited edition of 3 copies (a trinity), but as of this moment only ONE has been made available. (No father or sun yet, just the unholy ghost!) I understand that Ethereum prices fluctuate, but I set the price for my piece at .01 Ether (which is about $2.00, as of today’s market value.) I’m not sure if the site is up for human consumption yet, as it’s still in beta, but I’m pretty interested to see where this thing goes… As a content creator in the digital domain, it’s kind of exciting to set a price for my work, and then have it be a limited edition THING. (Almost like in the real world, where someone buys a collage or painting or drawing from me—and it’s GONE!) I could make a whole series of “collectible” digital trading cards for various monsters, and then only make like five of each monster available, or only ONE! (Sick. That would be sick and cruel… I’m all into sharing, but the premise is plausible, the concept COULD WORK!!! Lightning flashes, and Teri Garr looks worried…) And, supposedly, because the block-chain is decentralized (meaning it’s not bound to one company or network, either of which could fold) it’s supposed to retain the ART PIECES as part of the chain, forever (or until the entire electrical grid fails and we have to go back to reading paper books and painting on canvas again, like SAVAGES!)
The future is here, and it’s weird, and it’s expensive, but I’m willing to play for a bit…I mean, for an ether…bits are that other crypto-thing… (Bad joke. Sorry…)
—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)
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