Why Can’t We All Get Along?
Crypto art and the art world are having issues.
By Yehudit Mam.
So this happened:
Impulsive Tweeting Syndrome is a generalized malady that we are all susceptible to. Otherwise it is hard to explain why a respected art historian would berate both someone who was excited to have bought a digital drawing for about $15, and the artist who made the piece. Either Mr. Flynn was annoyed at the temerity of the digital art upstarts, or he wanted to start an argument. Either way, this is a good example of why rare digital art creators are excited to provide an antidote to the art world as it currently operates, thinking it is the sole authority that decides what is art and who is an artist.
Evidently, Mr. Flynn is bothered that art is being created and traded outside its customary, 500 year-old purview. What we mean by the “current art market mindset” is precisely the top-down, dismissive or indifferent attitude that many in the traditional art world have towards digital innovations in art, not only in terms of emerging artists but also in terms of a burgeoning, potentially massive market, ruled by community and transparency. This is the mindset of people who look at art that has not been anointed by the customary gatekeepers, and then put the word art in quotation marks.
Having said this, we have met people from the traditional art world who are genuinely excited about the flourishing of crypto art. They get it. But many very smart people don’t.
Just last week, at a talk between Julian Schnabel and Laurie Anderson, she spoke about how we hold on to our mobile devices for dear life because they are starting to contain remnants of things that are disappearing from the real world. Which is true. At some point, Schnabel said that painting is the only art that cannot be digitalized. We beg to differ.
No one is saying that Moxarra, the artist who made the drawing that provoked Mr. Flynn’s tweet, is Leonardo Da Vinci. But blockchain technology can allow a vast number of unheralded artists of all kinds to bypass the status quo and find an audience and collectors without all that fancy intermediation.
Of course the art market and the digital rare art market are different beasts. This is the whole point! Rare digital art is opening the entire experience of art — from creation, exhibition, collecting and trading — to people who have not been able to have access to it until now, whether they are artists or regular people. However, we disagree that the two worlds have nothing in common. We are not talking about dentists here. This is art, and these are artists too, and the sooner people make peace with this concept, the better. I am willing to hear an argument as to what makes Moxarra not an artist or his creations not art.
The good news is, there is room for everybody. If you want to buy a Da Vinci of dubious provenance for $450 million, knock yourself out. If you want to buy a Keith Haring for $6 million, be our guest! But if you want to collect a living artist for less than $1000 or even down to less than twenty bucks, now you can! This should be celebrated, not derided. Art is a spectrum which has gotten longer and more varied since the advent of the internet. Memes are a popular art form. So are gifs. So is rare digital art.
I don’t know if what is bothering Mr. Flynn is that rare art can digitally replicate the entire art market, or that it can dispense with the services of people who don’t actually create anything but who make a living off those who do, by bringing art to people, peer to peer. But we are not trying to usurp anything. We are showing that now there is a different way.
Delight, execution, imagination, expression, fun, possibility, interactivity, collaborativeness: these are some of the criteria of value in crypto art. Rarity in itself is not the most important criterion.
Now, you don’t have to like it. But as this commercial illustrates:
If it’s not for you, it’s not for you.