I have been aware of the blockchain technology for a few years now, reading about it in the book Radical Technologies by Adam Greenfield mostly and I found it definitely fascinating and with quite an undisputable potential.
What I wasn’t aware of was the rising of this thing called NFT.
Blockchain and NFTs
Non Fungible Tokens are basically whatever piece of digital artwork or information authenticated on a cryptocurrency blockchain (usually the Ethereum blockchain). What happens is that something that is intrinsically technically reproducible ad infinitum (such is the nature of digital things), can become unique or at least scarce. An NFT is an actual receipt that points to a URL that holds that digital thing on somebody’s server. This receipt then lives on a blockchain that makes sure that any block of data it contains is mathematically unique and can’t be compromised or tampered without compromising the whole chain (which is basically a huge database).
I’m not here to tell you how much the blockchain technology is most probably bad for the environment (compared to the power consumption of the banking systems), or how much it’s still unsecure, not privacy oriented, not really distributed nor decentralised, how much it’s creating its own silo on the web and I could go on. If you’re interested in all that I strongly suggest you to have a look at this pretty long (and pretty popular and really comprehensive) video by Dan Olson:
NFTs and Motion Graphics
Another coincidental reason for which I’ve been aware (more than necessary probably) of the NFT phenomenon is because of my job and my interests, therefore my web frequentations - the motion graphics industry in the specific.
The big bang of the NFTs was the selling of a piece for about $69 million USD. The piece was a digital collage made by the digital artist Beeple with his 5000 pieces of artwork. He created all this 3D rendered images in exactly 10 years (5000 days) of uninterrupted daily work in Cinema 4D, the currently most used 3D software in the motion graphics industry. He was already well known because of his resilience with what many of us motion designers have tried but so many have failed keeping up, making a piece everyday.
What happened is that after Beeple became an actual millionaire, the FOMO was real on the internet. Instagram and Twitter especially saw a huge wave of motion designer and 3D artists doing their best (sometimes worst) effort to become part of this “revolution”.
Let’s get straight to the point here - let’s not be naïve more than what is necessary:
we’re working as motion designers because it’s a job. A job that pays the bills, and maybe (hopefully more often than not) in the process we enjoy what we’re doing. So I’m not surprised that people follow the latest trends to make money, because that’s what it is in the end, and it will always be until this capitalist economic system exists as it is.
No. This is not the issue. Greed is the issue. And also the fallout that rains on everybody else’s heads.
The FOMO goldrush
Because of this collective FOMO (and consequential run towards the NFT dream) most of the internet spaces that are used by people like me to stay up to date with the state of the art and to be inspired by others’ talent, have been flooded by a huge sea of sameness. A big discharge of what is now just noise to my eyes in the form of dull, repetitive and copied and pasted renders of 3D heads with weird textures, displaced pieces of random geometry with attached long conceptual very unneeded explanations, and so on. One could argue if it wasn’t already the same at least for the last couple of years (if not more) before the advent of NFTs, especially on Instagram. Yes, indeed. But what it’s worse now is that all of these Non Fungible Artists are now trying so hard to be part of the phenomenon that they look like they’re part of some kind of creepy internet cult.
You can tell them from miles away:
- Colourful stylised profile picture which is either a monkey, a prosperous cyber lady, a cute cat or derivatives.
- They’ve added the extension “.eth” to their nicknames.
- They post regularly on Twitter and every morning they type “GM” (as in, you know, good morning) and GN before bed (as in, you’ve guessed it, good night). I’ve come to know they do this because is part of the larger cryptocurrency community and it means something like, “I’m still here holding onto my crypto money because I believe we’re gonna be the future (and rich)”.
- They have changed their way of communicating on the internet and now they all sound like salesmen that want to sell you their crappy shiny car.
- They are desperate for attention and they really care about being part of their “community”.
And more, but you’ve got the point.
I’ve seen so many people on Twitter, that I used to follow since about 10 years or more, falling for this - in this pathetic attempt to be part of something that is there just for the money involved. It’s true that a few artists have become much richer thanks to this phenomenon recently. But they were usually already famous artists and designers (and rightfully so). A very few that weren’t already well established had their chance, they took it and now they’ve gained their share of popularity (and money). But what is the percentage of this lucky people to the whole? - A very small one if you ask me. It’s like “playing guitar and wanting to become a Rockstar’s” chance.
In the process, us, casual neighbours and random viewers have to deal with all the noise and shit.
So to conclude I will add my very personal opinion, as of early 2022, of the cryptocurrency technology in general:
Cryptocurrencies might be an innovative and inevitably diffused new technology very soon, but as of right now and even more so for the NFTs phenomenon, it’s just a huge scam. It’s a huge Ponzi scheme fueled by the interests of the people that have already invested their own money in it and want you to do the same so they’re investments can grow stronger. It’s always sad to see what the thirst for easy money, greed and the illusion of quick richness can do to a community.