Wag Me, Tag me, liquidate and gag me.
There’s a lot of talk on Twitter about the ‘bear market’ and whose still here? There’s an assumption that once the possibility of normies and degens throwing caution to the wind again, that sales in crypto art or NFT’s is going to boom again and we are all going to make it,
The art market is known for its gatekeeping. The global ART market consists of America, London and Hong Kong. Under a dozen galleries decide who is actually gonna make it and who is not. The art market is unregulated and used to launder money and evade tax.
The Web 3 WAGMI digital dreams were sold under the ideology that there would be accessibility to all, that artists across the globe would finally be able to access a global audience, that generational wealth could be made. The days of gatekeeping were over.
This was going to be revolutionary.
But Web 3 does not exist, yet.
I grew up in an analogue world, coming to age when the KLF burned a million pounds to make a statement, Artists with their dead sharks were celebrities, and the AIDS crisis and crack epidemic was in the hind mirror of the world’s future. We had access to global digital communities, the bonds that electronic music created were going to change the world. The World Wide Web was coming your way and computers too! There was hope that these advances in technology would enable a brighter future.
Although imperfect, the NFT communities felt like a flashback to the rose-tinted glasses of more altruistic times. The new generation, coupled with digital degens were creating ways to distribute wealth, give opportunity and make change. But where there is money to be made, there is greed.
Crypto was sold hard to the public. Celebrities endorsed monkey jpegs and tech billionaires proclaimed dog alt coins were going to the moon.
Such heady days.
The digital cart was truly before the horse.
In the last month, several NFT projects imploded, Projects with NSFW content with a stooge pretending to be a sexuality deviant 13-year-old at the helm, we’re selling for 20 eth (roughly £25,000), the tokens were given free access to those in the know, it was the same people over and over again, getting the gains, onboarding new people to the digital dream and making bank, the rest of us, having seen this scheme over and over again, grew weary.
Much of this get rich quick hype can be attributed to a collection of Monkey JPEGs, so when successful capitalist projects prevail, the model will be repeated, without much thought or foresight. I can’t name the countless low effort art projects backed by paid digital twitter celebrities that sucked liquidity and hope out of the market and left those who were pawns falling from the rug pulled out beneath their feet.
Now anyone could be an artist, like anyone can be a model on Instagram and the ability to creatively express our visions or inner emotions is present in all of us. But being an artist takes time, skill and dedication. There is no single set pathway to becoming an artist, success is measured on a personal level and in the view of the public by the financial attributes said artist can generate, it is subjective. Art has no real intrinsic value.
As an artist you will have periods of no sales, so much is decided by cultural forces beyond our control, but that makes you no less an artist.
Many digital artists have had careers spanning over several decades, so the evolution of digital platforms where their art and efforts could be celebrated felt as though a new era in art had begun.
But to think that a branch of the art market was going to behave any differently than the unregulated Art market itself was utterly delusional.
There is no Web3, there is no decentralised dream come into life. What we do have is some great advances in tech and some nefarious folk making a shit tonne of money off folk that want a better life for themselves, artists that dream beyond the confines of their bedroom or studio walls.
The collective delusion of ‘you are gonna make it, build for the next bull run’. Lies in the assumption that this Ponzi scheme isn’t going to be rinsed and repeated, with new players or those with short memories and broken moral compasses at the helm. I don’t think the public trust will be regained after the billions recently lost on exchanges. Their monkey jpeg pictures no longer a sign of wealth, but ties to racisms and Nazi dog whistles.
I will continue to make art, both physical and digital, I’m an artist, that’s what I do. Maybe once the ashes of ‘Web 3 Wagmi’ have cleared something better and decentralised will grow from it, but for now, if ‘making it’ is at the cost of moral corruption and art no longer pushing the boundaries of ideas, skills or reflections upon the world, you can count me out.
Just kidding. But we have to do better. TBC