Crypto art: digital art in the era of crypto technology



The NFTs discussed above are exchanged, bought or sold on special online platforms called marketplaces (some such marketplaces that specialize in NFTs are OpenSea, SuperRare, and Rarible).

The cryptocurrency most often used for this type of sale is ether (symbol: ETH), which is the native currency of Ethereum, the preferred though not exclusive decentralized Web 3.0 platform that has been a point of reference in the world of NFTs since day one.

Anyone who is even minimally familiar with marketplaces and NFTs knows that, at least from a purely creative point of view, the assets themselves can be sort of lacking.

With few exceptions, the images, videos and animations proposed by the new protagonists of contemporary online creativity, called “creators” (a term I discuss in depth in my book, Copy-Paste Creativity), can be a bit basic, if not downright boring and trivial.

Moreover, the world’s legions of digital creatives are not filtered in any way by critics, art theorists or curators, as generally happens in more traditional art circuits. And while this way of doing things certainly has its benefits (i.e., the facilitation of direct exchange between artist and collector, cutting out the middleman), it is also a drawback because it allows rather uninspired “artists” to present literally anything, from digital bric-a-brac to categorical plagiarism.

Whether they are native, thus created directly on a computer, or digitized, meaning they are first created in the real world, all digital assets take the name “crypto art” once they are “minted” (published on the blockchain).

It’s possible that, in the future, we’ll see crypto art exhibitions integrated directly into the VR room of online platforms, or that we’ll enjoy the assets we own the NFTs for thanks to next-gen digital frames and smart posters.

But in the here and now, in addition to the downsides I’ve mentioned in terms of the selection of available art, crypto art has another, much more serious problem: its environmental impact.

Blockchain transactions consume enormous amounts of energy (necessary to operate the computers involved), which translates into the production of CO2, one of the most common greenhouse gases. Luckily, new eco-friendly solutions are being studied that, hopefully in a not-too-distant future, will significantly reduce the pollution produced and thus turn blockchain into a clean or at least low-impact technology, environmentally speaking.

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