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NFT’s and why I will not engage with the cryptocurrency art market

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

Reasons I will not be engaging with the fashion for Artists to create Art as Non-Fungible Tokens!

While the idea behind NFTs was, and is, profound.; using technology to enable artists to assert ownership over an original digital work, to sell it more easily, to protect against others appropriating it, many of the works being sold as NFTs aren’t digital artworks; they are digital versions of works created in conventional media. Worse still, in the panic to exploit this new crypto currency market (one of the few market choices currently available) people are creating NFTs of artists’ works without asking permission or even letting the artists know.

The essence of a NFT is that to ensure its integrity the original must be saved in digital form so that the purchaser owns the original but copies can be sold, rather like one would buy a poster of an original painting, however, what has happened is that when someone buys an NFT, they’re not buying the actual digital artwork; they’re buying a link to it. And worse, they’re buying a link that, in many cases, lives on the website of a new start-up that may fail or be sold on; an artwork could suddenly vanish if someone forgot to renew a domain name, and all thats left is a series of copies.

I have always maintained that what an artist creates is art, and is art because the artist says it is art. However, a caveat is that it is only art if the driving force behind the piece is the creation of art.

Having spent much of my career as a designer I know that art is not design; art does not have to be pleasing or resolve a problem or make someone money or require consensus. It is an outpouring of the entire intellect of a person in a manner that engages a viewer for more than the microseconds it takes to scan and form a judgement of an image and shows a viewer an alternative to their reality. Art requires that an artist has been directly involved in its production and while there are digital artists already making, sharing and selling real art digitally, and not just creating poor animations, the output of software or algorithm using A.I. written to create a work is not art. Those works are merely an effect, pretty patterns that may mesmerise and intrigue until one recognises what it is, shadows flying across a wall like a magician’s trick, they have no presence, little meaning and you leave them unaffected.

Equally to transpose an existing artwork to a digital form for the sole purpose of selling as an NFT is merely providing a storable copy: The original exists elsewhere. By all means sell a copy but don’t claim that it’s the art work,

So, my reasons are 1: It’s a Non Fungible Token!, it was specifically created to make more crypotocurrency, it’s not art, and, 2: The creation of an NFT is exceptionally wasteful of energy and obscenely prolific in C02 production (see* below), and unlike some billionaires recently, I have spent the last 20 years reducing my carbon footprint and do not intend to add to it unnecessarily.

So, for those reasons ‘I’m out’.

*NFT’s are wasteful of energy and prolific in C02 production

To support this contention some basic bitcoin facts are required:

a: 1 Bitcoin currently equates to £33,000 or $50,000

b: The Digiconomist's Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index estimates that one Bitcoin transaction takes 1,544 kWh to complete,


c: A study carried out by the scientific journal ‘Joule‘ estimated that current Bitcoin production generates between 22 and 22.9 million metric tons of C02 emissions a year, or between the levels produced by Jordan and Sri Lanka and that a single bitcoin purchase has a carbon footprint 270 tons, the equivalent of 60 combustion driven cars.**

So, a £650 NFT equates to 0.0018 bitcoins which equates to 486kg C02 production which, for comparison purposes, equates to 5000km travelled by car or 10,000km travelled by train.

Despite current moves to generate cleaner energy and to encourage bitcoin miners to use green energy, the energy required cannot then be used elsewhere and the additional carbon created will build up annually and need to be remediated.

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