The strange, wild and expensive world of blockchain art


You would be forgiven for thinking that this cryptic madness is over when the price of bitcoin has plunged by over 70 percent this year, but it is not that simple. The Hyperion card and Elon Musk "Crypto Celebrity" are both examples of a type of product that we will call digital assets. A digital asset is an object that exists only in lines of code in a decentralized ledger. Like a bitcoin, a digital asset is unique and can only be owned by one digital wallet at a time. If you have the private key of that wallet – a long string of numbers and cryptographically complex letters – then you, and you alone, have that resource stored in that wallet.

A bitcoin is just a bitcoin, but digital resources are generated and managed on "smart contracts" on platform-based blockchain, such as Ethereum, Neo or Zilliqa. The most used resources range from cards to memes to works of art, but much more complex things are possible with intelligent contracts, such as blockchain-hosted music files and movies, and even complete operating systems – the latter are mostly theoretical in this moment or in initial phases of testing.

The most popular digital resources can be traced back to CryptoKitties, which popularized the idea of ​​collectibles on the blockchain. CryptoKitties is advertised as a game, but it's just so – the main activity is to accumulate and exchange CryptoKitties. It is more accurate to think of it as Beanie Babies on blockchain. This format of horde / commerce has been replicated in a run of similar games that currently invade the space of digital goods: crypt gladiators, hash cubs, crypts punk, etc. – all following the mold of CryptoKitties.

[19659002] With any objective measure, this format has been used up to the point of stupidity. A quick trip through OpenSea, one of the largest markets for digital resources, brings up the lowest point of this absurdity: Crypto celebrities. These are simply collectible cards of famous people like Donald Trump, John Oliver, Ray Romano, Sandra Bernhard, and so on. Many of the photos are ugly, poorly supplied, blurred or borderline that insult the subject. To this there is no addition of artistic embellishments: A Crypto Celeb is just a bad photo, and all you can do is horde and trade it. All that is from Crypto Celebrities is the pathetic honor of being the only person to own the Carrot Top card. (You can, it must be noted, breed the celebrities in ugly mutants on CelebrityBreeder, but this is a different game.)

But it's not the whole horde and the trade. There are much more robust games out there, including rudimentary role-playing games like CryptoSaga and MMO as Crypto Space Commanders (note to game developers: you can leave the prefix "crypto" to this point). Decentraland sells "virtual properties" on a platform Second Life – as yet to be started.

But the most promising assets, from both investment and a cultural point of view, are undoubtedly objects of art. These are also widely of quality, of course. Digital Art Chain is a DeviantArt-like that allows amateur creators to sell their digital works, which is, in fact, a very exciting turnaround for artists who see their works copied to infinity on Google Images and Pinterest without no value returned. CryptoArte is mostly ugly, computer-generated artwork with bitmap appearance. HiPrecious is an intelligent and interesting series of animated collectible cards. It defines itself as "high-end encryption collectibles, luxuriously done in Paris". The cards include Bruce Lee, Tesla, something called Zombie Cat, the World Trade Center and the Hawksbill Sea Turtle. They look good and are quite cheap, for now: the most expensive is Ponzi, which sells for an 8 ETH irascible, or around $ 2,300.

A rare Pepe auction at the height of the 2017 craze saw a sale of cards for more than $ 39,000.

Some of the art works that capture titles on blockchain derive from the robust and incendiary meme space. Pepe the Frog, which was once the strict domain of the racist trolls and the Trump shitposters, has been selected and reassembled in a mélange of self-referential works that satirize and comment on the culture of the internet in general. The Rare Pepe Wallet is a lively and well-kept market where artists who work produce memes for a relatively decent payday. (It should be noted that people Rare Pepe Wallet endeavored to deny the use of Pepe's meme from the altar-right, pointing out that Pepe's memes existed long before the right-hand trolls corrupted them. )

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