Cryptographics at Moneylab #13 Exhibition Krypto: Decrypting the Artist

Presented in the context of the Moneylab #13 exhibition Krypto: Decrypting the Artist, Cryptographics considers the recent phenomenon of cryptoart, which involves associating digital artefacts with blockchain, often tokenising artworks with non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Ostensibly intended to give digital creators more control over their work, this practice has recently been the subject of heated debate, as well as setting off a feeding frenzy by artists and speculative investors. Cryptographics takes an artistic interpretation of this topic, highlighting the way that while tokenisation is intended to preserve unique digital assets, it treats content as interchangeable. Working with found text fragments from the internet and images from the ONB Labs collection of historical postcards, the work negates the representational role of images, reducing the images to mere fields of pixels.

photos: Moneylab #13 Exhibition Krypto: Decrypting the Artist, Nicos Avraamides, 2023


Moneylab#13 Exhibition Krypto: Decrypting the Artist

Presented at NeMe in Limassol, Cyprus in the context of a two-day event, the Moneylab #13 exhibition Krypto: Decrypting the Artist was accompanied by a conference on related themes. The overall aim of MoneyLab is to deconstruct, and reveal the hidden machinations of the ever evolving digital economies, and speculate on radical alternatives. Sustaining its interest on presenting insightful new critical ideas on the developments of the digital domain and how that is affecting our society and economy, NeMe, and the Institute of Network Cultures, present the 13th edition of MoneyLab. The 2023, post-Covid, MoneyLab edition at NeMe will concentrate on the precarious financial existence of artists and it will investigate and interrogate the so-called decentralised opportunities that sprang in 2020 in the blockchain reliant Crypto sphere, that includes but is not limited to NFTs.

Until Facebook’s failed launch of its own blockchain currency Libra in 2019, ‘crypto’ and ‘social media’ remained separate universes. Yet in the week that Homer Pepe was sold for $320,000, Barry Threw cheered that “[t]he art world is a software problem now.” For this Limassol edition of MoneyLab it is inevitable to return to the 2021 ‘crypto art’ NFT wave that coincided with the Game-Stop short squeeze, orchestrated on Reddit at the height of the crypto boom when Bitcoin reached a $66K valuation. The newly created ‘assets,’ financed in the trade by superfluous cash that can be spent on trivial ventures, is the easy explanation of the sudden 2021 Non-Fungible Token boom. Before we rush to the Next Big Thing, it is important to reflect on the crypto art condition as the ‘digital money’ question is here to stay.

D. Gerard explained how the hype started: “Tell artists there’s a gusher of free money! They need to buy into crypto to get the gusher of free money. They become crypto advocates and make excuses for proof-of-work. Few artists are really making life-changing money from this! You probably won’t be one of them.” And, as Brett Scott, author of 2022 bestseller Cloudmoney, and a speaker at this conference, states that “if anything, GameStop could be a reaction against the zero-sum futility of day-trading. Far from saving you from bullshit jobs, trading is a bullshit job, and the only way to temporarily win at it is not to throw yourself into battle against ‘the market.’ It’s to collaborate in swarms.”

One of the MoneyLab network assertions is that a critique of social media should also have a financial-economic solution for content creators and not just get stuck in fake news or privacy complaints. We need new internet aka social media models in which peer2peer payments are an integral part. The attention economy, as we know it, has resulted in an army of influencers struggling to make a living. Most artists and designers are earning far less than a minimum wage—a situation that only became worse during the Corona virus pandemic. If the aim is to cancel the Silicon Valley ‘social contract’ (data extraction in exchange for free services), we will need another financial infrastructure that will be situated ‘underneath’ digital services—with or without blockchain, Bitcoin, Ethereum tokens or ‘proof of work.’

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