Non Fungible Tokens have reinvigorated illustration and the image, reaching new audiences that would otherwise not be concerned with a pseudo-anonymous artist’s drawings. However, the popular emergence of the “art NFT” is generally working from a premodern or outsider definition of art. Rarely does it leverage the unique material qualities of the NFT object as a medium to establish contemporary critical discourse. And if it does, it is usually a project firmly outside of the dominant NFT narrative.
Bored Ape Yacht Club is one of the blue-chip exceptions within Profile Pic (PFP) NFTS. While on the surface, it might appear like a simple series of images, it began as a co-creative meta storytelling project. It created a comedic mirror to hold up for early crypto adopters, who aped in and held on until they realized significant wealth. Many of them are “just fucking bored [and are] going to hang out in a swamp club with a bunch of apes and get weird.”1 As prescribed, those early BYAC apes saw massive gains as the NFT frenzy took hold, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, further driving the original narrative intent.
While BYAC leverages the image portion of the PFP, to create a more robust narrative frame for the project, it does not dig deep into the other innate aspects of NFTs with its narrative concept in mind. Dadbean’s projects confront, leverage, and question the inherent and predominant mechanics of Blockchain, Non Fungible Tokens, their ecosystems, and trends in order to create a conceptual scaffold to build images upon.
Things I Found on the Floor of the Patent Office is a series of modified or rote reproductions of patent illustrations from USPO’s public database. Through the relationship between the presented content, its source, and its new life on-chain, the project raises questions about ownership, fair use, manipulation through capital, and the importance of decentralization. It started in 2018 as an exploration of the utility of these archived images and recently found a richer existence, as the blockchain lent a new conceptual layer to the project.
During research for later works within TIFOTFOTPO (tee fot ‘fot poe), it became apparent that corporations are already divvying up blockchain tech for their profits as they did in the days of early web. But as some recompense, I can now own this image :
Computer Made Sheep takes the relationships used it TIFOTFOTPO further by baking a meta narrative into its tokenomics, code, and presentation that references crypto inclinations and dominant market practices. Like BAYC, participants are given an image-as-mirror and agency within the narrative, but in CMS, they play a much greater role…
part 2 coming soon.