How is it going?
If you are on the arts, galleries and museums social media thread mill like I am, you probably have seen the hype about NFTs, Non-Fungible Tokens. How the musician Grimes sold $6 million worth of art via NFT and the band Kings of Leon releasing two types of NFTs. Lots of galleries and auction houses are having to consider this as an Art market or even getting into it. I think this article from the Guardian describes the whole thing best.
Now, I think this is pretty exciting for artists in some ways to be selling original artwork that is “authenticated”. There will be no need for those horrendous watermarked pictures of your work either to protect it. You can always know who owns the artwork and it should be traceable. It looks like artists could make quite an earning out of it.
I am not sure about the side of the buyer of these NFT work in general though. At the moment it looks more like it is suitable as an ‘Investment’ or what we can call buying art for the value that it would later on sell.
Rather than to display, appreciate and collect the work, which of course the earlier purpose of owning art. I do understand that this concept has changed for quite a lot of people for quite some time now. People buy art to sell. On NFT there seems to be no other purpose than that. This meme from Jerry Gogosian page says it all.
Then we get into the concept of Value. Who is putting the value on these works? So far on NFT , this decision is made by anyone.
Its value lies solely in the fact that other people value it.James Ball, The Guardian
Because the market is pretty new, there are still not very many artists using it so therefore ‘good’ work are rare. Of course, when I say good work, this is to a standard of the traditional values of what makes good art, which in itself is questionable. But, there are some bodge jobs out there.
The aspect of the purpose of the item is made only to sell and the value is decided by everyone, makes it also easier for the item to be made by anyone.
This idea is certainly not bad for quite a lot of neglected and side-lined artists, or those who don’t have any connections in the world of art to start striving.
But then, there is this interesting case of a bunch of people who are really good in photoshop and the like, taking images from a real artist, cut them up digitally, putting them together in a way that it only has less than 10% of that artist work to make an NFT item. They didn’t even create it themselves.
These copy-pasters admitted that they have done all this carefully and knowingly in an interview with the media. They also copy the style of the artist in colours and drawings. The plagiarism is so obvious that others recognised or thought of it as the real artist’s work.
I am calling these Items because I am not sure that they are a work of art.
Image from The Refinery Report shows an example of elements that have been taken of the real image.
The Real Artist
With plagiarism, you always have to prove “who is first” to have to produce the artwork. I can personally confirm that Ardneks have had their style since at least 2016 way before NFT exist. I also noticed that the copy-paster Twisted Vacancy only exists since 2019 on social media. I have a printed version of a poster that they designed for a concert displayed in my house, that I bought in 2016.
So the real artist is legit in my eyes, so what should happen to those who are abusing their work?
Regulation or Guidelines
As everything is relatively new on the cryptocurrency, problems come up that have not been seen before or perhaps not that visible. Although NFT is exciting for artists and the art world, there should really be a sort of regulation that stops it from being used as being a marketplace for copyright and ethical abuse of other people’s work.
It would be amazing if the regulation comes from governments, but there is nothing to stop each of the platform/marketplaces to also have some guidelines that follow an ethical standpoint, right?
Maybe it should be considered as sampling instead of plagiarism. Like song sampling, there should be a legal rule on taking a part of someone’s artwork. Like if someone is making money out of a piece of song that is not licensed under creative commons, they need to pay a royalty to those they sample. Even on NFT.
Copyright is copyright. And if the sample is recognizable (hell, even if it isn’t recognizable), you’re using another person’s intellectual property in order to construct or enhance your own.Chris Robley, DIY Musician 2019
I mean what would be ideal is if people can use crypto technology to encrypt artwork thoroughly so that no one could take part without them knowing. For artists to be able to do this as easily, cost-effectively and as environmentally friendly as signing an artwork.
So much to think about. Do you know of any other complications or challenges on NFT art?
Let me know what you think.