Mysterious “cat thief” steals CryptoKitty from the digital art installation


On Friday, Kevin Abosch – an Irish conceptual artist who was among the first to use blockchain technology as a medium – reported that a cowardly robbery had been committed in one of his on-chain installations, an Ethereum wallet turned into a work of art. titled “Stealing The Contents of This Portfolio Is a Crime” (2018).

In a Tweet the artist, whose work was displayed at the Hermitage, said a CryptoKitty had been swiped from the freely accessible address:

“Stealing content …” is one of what Abosch calls his “social experiments that challenge value systems” – a conceptual framework particularly suited to the world of cryptocurrencies. Part of “Stealing The Contents …” included tokens deposited in the wallet from his piece “I Am A Coin” (2018), in which Abosch symbolized himself in a process involving the artist’s blood to distribute 10 million tokens with the ‘IAMA’ ticker.

He described “Stealing …” as a mutual playground for explorers, and attendees responded largely with goodwill and good humor: Ethereum savvy art enthusiasts played with the occult implications of blood tokens. , for example moving IAMA’s .666 in and out of the “Steal …” Wallet, among other hijinks.

“I think people just wanted to interact and then become part of the art in a way,” Abosch said.

These ideals are precisely what made Friday’s theft so cruel. Even for a space full of scammers, charlatans, and scammers, stealing a CryptoKitty – one named in honor of his work, no less – from a freely accessible wallet seemed unusually mean.

However, when asked in an interview if the theft had troubled him, Abosch started laughing.

“Actually, I stole it,” he confessed.

The perversion of digital scarcity

Abosch explained to Cointelegraph that a friend had told him that Kitty had been deposited in his wallet and that he had been given the name, “IAMA Kitty,” he thought was a gift intended for him from Dapper Labs.

“I thought, ‘I should have it,'” he said.

Abosch made it clear, however, that this cat theft wouldn’t be the start of a larger collection of NFT collectibles or art. Indeed, as the conversation shifted to the blockchain-based state of the art, it expressed dismay at a number of ongoing trends, starting with valuations of digital art rooted primarily in their rarity.

“I find something perverse about the lack of engineering,” he said.

Bronze sculptures, he explained, are scarce because sculptors can only afford so much bronze – with real-world art, there are inherent resource limitations. Digital scarcity, on the other hand, is completely artificial.

Likewise, the current wave of artists posting their work as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) doesn’t impress him.

“Many so-called crypto artists are coining NFTs, but they are using blockchain technology only as a tool to design scarcity and as a platform to sell their work,” he said. “I’m not doing a qualitative assessment of the work, I’m just challenging the nomenclature. Of course, there are artists whose work thematically deals with cryptocurrency, blockchain technology […] which seems more suited to the term crypto-art. “

He went on to explain that the pieces that use technology in more innovative ways are what really excite him.

“What interests me most are the pieces where blockchain is the method, where the soul or flesh of the piece is integrally woven into the blockchain,” he said. “The NFT only speaks to the platform that facilitated the minting and sale.”

The wave of speculators and collectors moving into NFT-backed 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 job, as a form of social proof or as an investment opportunity.”

Too few, he implies, buy art for experience.

He complained that among the medium, artists and buyers, the current cryptoart landscape has actually recreated the most repugnant qualities of the legacy art world – what he called “one of the most corrupt industries on the planet” – both fueled by greed, ego and hype.

A new generation of collectors

While Abosch’s grievances might strike some as the archetypal rumblings of an old head pooping the new generation, he sees a bright spot in NFT’s artistic madness: an upcoming community of art lovers focused on chain work.

“I wonder when crypto brothers discuss the immaterial nature of their art, if they delve into the philosophical implications of materiality and ownership,” he said. “There’s a whole younger generation of people who don’t seem physically attached, even though they still seem to crave the rare.”

Slipping back into a more sardonic tone, he went on to say that collectors are enjoying themselves too, because at current prices they may be stuck with their purchases for a while.

Too many are buying as an investment, he said, hoping to resell at a later date amid even more frenzied NFT-mania.

“I don’t think there’s that much money out there,” he cautioned. “There is a perception that this is a gold rush, but I’m not sure there is gold in those thar hills.”

Regardless of his suspicions, he’ll indulge in at least one cute NFT collectible.

“My kids said they wanted a kitten. Let’s see how they react. ”

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