Digital Art(efacts)

So.. non-fungible tokens for signing digital art. FFS. I wonder when someone will set up an NFT a long way down the chain and relate the inflating cost of their artwork to the increasing amounts of energy you need to spend to mint the next token. Thinks: Drummond and Cautey were burned a million, now you can burn a million on top of the cost of the art work minting your certificate of ownership.

Hmm… maybe that’s a world of art projects in itself: mint new tokens on a server powered by electricity from the windmill in your garden and limit how often ownership can change by virtue of the slow release of new tokens. Create fairygold tokens that disintegrate after a period of time, so you are forced to resell the art work within a particular period of time. Run your blockchain miner on a GPU powered by a server where you control the energy tariff. Etc etc.

Alternatively, why not sell “a thing”.

Back in the day, I used to enjoy buying signed limited edition prints. There was no way I could afford originals or studies, but the signed limited edition print had the benefit of relative scarcity, and the knowledge that the artist had presumably looked at and touched the piece. And if they weren’t happy with it, they wouldnlt release it. A chef at the pass.

I have a cheap RPi (Rasberry Pi) connected by an ethernet cable to my home internet router. I run a simple Jupyer notebook server on it as a sketchpad, essentially. In a Jupyter notebook, I can write text and code, execute the code, embed code outputs (tables, charts, generated images, 3D models, sounds, movies, and so on) and export those generated code output assets as digital files. I could sign them as NFTs.

I can also run other things on the RPi, such as a text editor, or a web browser.

I can use the RPi to perform the calculations on which I create a piece.

So… rather than sell a signed digital artefact, I could connect to the RPi, write some code on it, or open a drawing package on it, and create a piece.

Then I could make the files read only on the device and sell you the means of production plus the files I actaully worked on and created.

If it’s an RPi, where the files are saved on an SD card, I could sell you just the SD card.

In the first case, where I sell you the RPi, you would have the silicon that did the computation that created the digital asset as well as the files I, in a particular sense, touched and worked on, with a timestamp on the file repreenting the last time I edited and saved that file.

In the second case, where I sell you the SD Card, I sell you the original files that define the created the digital asset that I, in a particular sense, touched and worked on, with a timestamp on the file repreenting the last time I edited and saved that file.

This seems to me be a much more tabgible way of selling digital artworks as touched by the creator.

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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