Do NFTs render art meaningless?

Years after entering Andy Warhol’s inner circle, Jean Baudrillard stabbed the world of fine art.

“Art does not die because there is no more art. It dies because there are too many,” the French philosopher wrote in “The Conspiracy of Art,” his 2005 treatise targeting a system of gallery owners and collectors who have turned fine art into a commodity.

Agnieszka Pilat is a Polish-American artist whose work renders machines like portraits. His next exhibition, ROBOTa, will take place at the gallery of San Francisco Modernism Inc.

Baudrillard modernized his theory of simulacra, which inspired the Matrix film franchise, to the art market, showing how artists had been compromised by the totality of a monopoly system (“there are more and more ‘information and less and less meaning’, wrote the philosopher in 1979). When the non-fungible token (NFT) frenzy took off in January last year, many successful (some even revered) artists got lost in the mania of market forces, churning out digital collectibles just because everyone was profiting from the gold rush.

Collective mania and groupthink encourage short-term reactionary thinking, and even the most brilliant artists succumb to these forces. Rather than making thoughtful critiques of the system that creates these periods, they, too, are carried away by cultural and economic tailwinds – selling themselves like commodities, as Baudrillard noted.

Read more: What are NFTs and how do they work?

There is no “right” way to create art, and some of the best pieces come from sporadic expression. However, when the medium is so heavily driven by vulgar commodity trading, amplified by NFT frenzy, artists lose their voice in society.

With cartoon JPEGs sold for $1.3 million and the technology enabling insider trading and money laundering, NTFs have unfortunately amplified all the problems of the traditional arts market. Everyone knew the NFT frenzy was a bubble, and it was time for it to burst.(Agnieszka Pilat)

As the ecosystem consolidates, the cliché in tech circles is that the emerging crypto economy is in a “builder’s market”. Technology founders, as well as artists creating NFTs, are taking a step back to re-evaluate their projects, while considering how their creations fit into the architecture of the network. For all of its iterated shortcomings in the previous market cycle, NFTs have the potential to deliver incredible value to artists – from fractional ownership (like Particle’s decision to symbolize a Banksy painting) to integration into experiences. live. There will also likely be a continued explosion in the creation of NFTs as digital works of art, hitting platforms like OpenSea at the same speed as the articles, blog posts and opinion pieces that have characterized the social media and the news industry.

The DSFs, unfortunately, have amplified all the problems of the traditional arts market.

The overproduction of NFT risks killing the art, rendering the medium meaningless as Baudrillard predicted. As is the case in the news industry, good writing and reporting still exists (and is crucial to the democratic process), but is harder to find among the daily deluge of regurgitated comments, encouraged by algorithms. social media that encourages division.

A “builder’s market” is a welcome reset to the nose. With NFTs already playing such an important role in the traditional fine art industry, they are here to stay and will serve as a vehicle to flood the internet with even more digital art – Meta, DALLE and other tech companies are already making instantly complex artwork with artificial intelligence. Artists need to think carefully about how they integrate emerging technologies into their larger work and use them to channel complex and nuanced human emotions, rather than the other way around where their dominating master is the dollar…or crypto.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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