How can we classify the different works and styles within crypto art and NFTs?
We tend to think of the major art styles (impressionism, abstract expressionism, surrealism, etc.) as they relate to a visual structure or language. For crypto art this understanding has been somewhat alighted. In a way we can think of PFP projects as their own style because visually there is something in common, they work as a personal likeness or avatar. That being said most are just jpegs and not necessarily art that has been enabled by the blockchain.
Generative art however produces a certain aesthetic due to how that work is generated by code which could (somewhat) be classified as a NFT art style. Good examples of this would be OG artists like Eric Paul Rhodes or Tyler Hobbs, specifically his Fidenza series. In these cases, because of the algorithmic mechanism which is medium-native to crypto art, there are stylistic similarities which Kizu feels would classify as a major art style within NFT art.
Beyond this we also have things such as illustration or painting, which could be used as classifiers but these come from a time before crypto art and we can not really view or classify them in the same way. Moreover, those are merely techniques, which can be helpful for ranking skill level, but in the end that doesn’t really get to the point of why we classify art.
While Kizu and Sabretooth both acknowledge their level of cynicism, they bring up the idea that ultimately, art being classified is a biproduct of the market. Sabretooth talks about how collectors will buy a certain artists and then look for a narrative in which to place these artists. The reason being that, works are worth more if they are part of something bigger than just the work itself. Sabretooth finds that overall this effort has been unsuccessful in the sense that they have not been powerful enough to break through to the traditional art world. He gives the example of Beeple who has sold for ridiculous amounts of money, has a large fan base in the crypto community, but is not accepted by traditional art people.
Kizu talks about the use of of Punks as profile pics or RTFKT sneakers and the signaling of value in the metaverse, how we communicate, the transactions, etc. to point out that there is a narrative and it is about the money. He also draws a comparison between the NFT space and the art world of the 90s where, art from the developing world got recognized because there was a movement to promote these artists. It wasn’t really about their style or aesthetic rather their background and what they stood for.
What’s up with music in the NFT space?
Many major DJs are launching projects and that’s not a surprise as DJs and NFTs are both on the cutting edge of popular culture. Despite this, Sabretooth notes that music has stopped being the cutting edge of niche subcultures. Minority expressions don’t start in music anymore. There are cheaper or more viral ways such as creating a tiktok account. Because it has somewhat lost its power due to these mentioned elements Sabretooth feels that NFTs are ahead of music in creating subcultures and thus he is not as interested in the topic.
Could NFTs and smart contracts replace traditional contracts in business and real estate?
The idea of tokenizing real world assets has existed since 2016, it has not yet taken off nor does Sabretooth think it will. The reason why brings us to look at what is called the oracle problem – how do you bring data from off the blockchain on the blockchain and still have it be trustworthy? Especially in the case of real estate or other tangible items, the question moves to – if someone steals your NFT do they now own your house? The answer is generally, no, and if that is the case then, what is the purpose of putting it on the blockchain in the first place?
When you buy an NFT who owns the creative rights?
This brings up a big debate within the NFT space and the example of LarvaLabs gives us a good case study.
CryptoPunks Originally subscribed to the Nifty license which was created by DapperLabs (CryptoKitties) and stated that you could monetize your work up to $100k but that the original creators reserved the rights. Larvalabs later signed a contract with a talent agency in Hollywood and that agency then reserved the rights to make movies, games, etc.
As a response, a project named, CryptoPhunks, created an identical project as punks but facing right instead of left and then they made them all creative commons. This got them banned off of OpenSea but they just went and created their own marketplace. Their floor price is now above 1 ETH.
This example highlights the grand debate within the NFT space where many say that all NFTs should be a creative commons license where anybody can do what they like with the work. Cynically Sabretooth mentioned that this narrative could be being pushed because it benefits project owners.
How does a newbie start collecting NFTs?
Personally I would prefer to get a 1of 1 over a PFP project, something that I love looking at all the time and that I don’t mind if I can’t resale. Within that I would also like something that comes with a physical so that I could also hang it on my wall. What’s most attractive to me within the space is the ability to have so much more open access to artists and creations.
Because on low gas prices and more affordable works Sabretooth recommends that I try Tezos as a starting point before moving on to Ethereum.