Ghost Within Shells

Last year, while the world was in lockdown, the NFT market tripled in value, reaching more than $250 million. In 2014 Anil Dash and Kevin McCoy created ‘Quantum’, the first ever NFT, depicting a short video of a set of spinning dollar symbols inside a picture frame. Post-internet irony aside, this ‘Warholian’ piece is now valued at U$D7 million. Beeple has become a mainstream media phenomenon and sold his work at Christie’s for USD69 million, placing him among the top 3 valuable living artists. The first ever tweet by Jack Dorsey saying “just setting up my twttr” sold for USD2.9 million. NON-FUNGIBLE TOKENS are in some ways the ultimate post-modern artistic expression where speculative value has replaced substance up to the point where the object of desire is not the representation, but a machine-generated number attached to an image-shell. Art has become a paradoxical collaboration between human input and cybernetic validation, which beyond questioning the value and evaluation of art, has questioned the necessity of the physical or digital existence of the art beyond a unique code and a fuel price for the machine. No longer is the art unique and valuable, without a 14-digit code. Hence, during this year’s AAVS studio we delve into the creation of NFTs, understanding them as Ghosts in a Shell – being the ‘ghost’ a machine-generated number, which without its ‘shell’ would lack a body to exist in.