For all the popularity of Bored Apes and Ponzi scheme stories, there seems to have been little serious engagement with the philosophical, political, and aesthetic implications of the blockchain.
The success of the Non-Fungible Token reveals a severe ‘speculative deficit’ haunting our culture. Its passing marks the urgent need for art to break its aesthetic limits.
Is the fiction of art’s economic value now the key measure of culture? Does it matter that we don’t understand the figures? What would Baudrillard say about NFTs? Can we hope to restore aesthetic ideas of value?
The deceptive magic of NFTs is that the items they represent – memes, animations, screenshots – can be claimed to be collectable and therefore valuable. But art’s tendency to trade claims of value outside of its own field without check is profoundly worrying.