NFT: NON-FUNGIBLE TOKENS
First IMPAKT TV episode on blockchain and art
Location: Online programme
What is this new NFT blockchain craze everyone is talking about? The first IMPAKT TV programme on Thursday 8 April will be looking at the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Unlike such popular cryptocurrencies as Bitcoin and Ethereum, these digital collector’s items cannot be traded. Blockchain technology makes each non-fungible token unique and uncopiable, and only transferrable as a whole.
These features make NFTs particularly interesting to the art world, as a way of making digital (i.e. easy to copy and reproduce) items tradable. An NFT gives someone a unique, transferrable owner’s name: an non-interchangeable mark of authenticity. Anything digital can potentially be sold as an NFT – illustrations, music, even a tweet. In recent weeks we have seen an NFT artwork auctioned for millions by the renowned auction house Christie’s.
As a result, digital art has become part of the speculative capitalist system of buying and selling art, which is so often criticised by artists. Indeed, we are now in the complex speculative landscape of cryptocurrency, which is also known for its negative impact on the environment.
On the one hand, NFTs appear to give artists a new way of earning money with their digital artworks. On the other hand, is such income in proportion to the energy needed to ‘mine’ the non-interchangeable certificates of authenticity? What are the risks and opportunities for the art world? How sustainable are NFTs and blockchain technology? Which power structures and dynamics are involved here? And who profits from this new technology?
We have invited special guests and experts to help us answer these questions. Artist Simon Denny has been closely following developments in blockchain technology for years. In his latest work NFT Mine Offsets at the Petzel Gallery he creates NFT artworks (the first was offered on the NFT marketplace superrare.co on 18 March) as a response to and reflection on the environmental effects of these technologies.
Our next guest is artist Harm van den Dorpel. In 2015, Harm van den Dorpel was the first artist to sell NFTs to a museum. Later, he founded left.gallery, a marketplace for blockchain artworks.
Our hosts for the event are Inte Gloerich and Michelle Franke (IMPAKT). Since 2016, Inte Gloerich has studied the social, cultural and political aspects of blockchain technology from the Institute of Network Cultures (INC). She will obtain her PhD from Utrecht University with her research into the different visions of the future expressed by blockchain projects, artworks and speculative designs. At the INC, she is part of the MoneyLab project, a network of researchers, artists and activists who are experimenting with the digital economy and forms of financial democratization.
This first IMPAKT TV programme will be livestreamed on YouTube.
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The programme is part of the new monthly IMPAKT TV series. Every month we will be looking at current topics such as NFTs, conspiracy theories and how algorithms affect your taste in music. Read more about IMPAKT TV.
Simon Denny― Speaker
Simon Denny (*1982 Auckland/New Zealand, lives in Berlin) is an artist whose work explores the cultures and values behind contemporary technologies. In recent years, Denny has looked at the exploitation of information in data-economies, using his work to visualise systems of competing political and economic visions, interrelationships of labour, capital, developments in technologies, and impacts on the biosphere. He studied at the University of Auckland (2005), and the Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main (2009). Denny’s work has been exhibited recently in solo exhibitions in the K21 in Düsseldorf (2020); Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania (2019); MOCA, Cleveland (2018); OCAT, Shenzhen (2017); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2017); WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels (2016); Serpentine Galleries, London (2015); MoMA PS1, New York (2015); Portikus, Frankfurt (2014); Adam Art Gallery, Wellington (2014); MUMOK, Vienna (2013); Kunstverein Munich (2013). He represented New Zealand at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. His works are represented in institutional collections including MoMA (New York), Walker Art Centre (Minneapolis), Kunsthaus Zürich (Zürich), Sammlung zeitgenössischer Kunst der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Berlin) and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Wellington). Denny co-founded the BPA//Berlin Program for Artists, an artist mentoring program in 2016. Since 2018, he is a professor for Time Based Media at the HFBK, Hamburg.
Harm van den Dorpel― Speaker
Harm van den Dorpel is a Berlin-based conceptual artist using his work to investigate aesthetic hierarchies and cybernetic organisations of art and contemporary visual culture in general. He explores how intuitive associative expression, and algorithmically structured information systems can operate in hybrid. His practice spans sculpture, collage, animation and websites. He is regarded as a key figure in Post-Internet art. He is interested in systems of language, art, and the internet. While much of his work exists as ephemeral Web sites that he programs, such as Deli Near Info, an online curatorial project or “algorithmic studio,” he also creates multimedia work for the gallery space, including layered wall pieces and psychedelic-colored sculptures in printed plastic. With an interest in the philosophy of technology, Van den Dorpel explores the tension between physical artworks and digital platforms to think about the way we organize information today.
Michelle Franke― Moderator
Michelle graduated cum laude from the Research Master Art and Visual Culture at the Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. She was selected for the Young Excellent Scholar Research Programme at CEDLA (Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation). Since 2020 she works as head of PR at IMPAKT [Centre for Media Culture].
Inte Gloerich― Moderator
Inte Gloerich is a PhD student working on socio-technical imaginaries in blockchain art and design at Utrecht University. Her work involves the politics, artistic imaginations, and (counter)cultures surrounding digital technology and the digital economy. Inte works as a project coordinator and researcher at the Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. She also teaches in the MA in New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam, where she got her own MA degree, as well as in the BA in Media & Information. She co-edited MoneyLab Reader 2: Overcoming the Hype (with Geert Lovink and Patricia de Vries) and State Machines: Reflections and Actions at the Edge of Digital Citizenship, Finance and Art (with Yiannis Colakides and Marc Garrett). She is about to embark upon a PhD trajectory focusing on blockchain imaginaries in art and design.