by Cindy Huynh
Kevin Abosch, a conceptual artist, and photographer living in New York is currently implementing blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in his conceptual artworks.
Art Blends with Cryptocurrencies
Abosch is however not the first artist to test this idea. The exciting blend of cultures between cryptocurrencies and art is resulting in works that according to The Independent, “explore value, decentralization, and the buzz around digital money.”
An example of an artwork that bridges both industries is Potato#345. It is an artwork by Abosch that was purchased by a European businessman for 1 million Euros in 2015.
While the attention Abosch gained from the sale was quite exciting, he mentioned that “on the other hand, the focus shifts from the artistic value to the monetary value of the work, and for most artists, the art is an extension of the artist, so you start to feel commodified. To control that, I began to think of myself as a coin.”
The conceptual artist looked to the blockchain and created 10 million tokens in January. “But I didn’t want to just make these 10 million pieces of virtual art,” said Abosch. “I wanted them to be connected to my body.” Abosch, therefore, created a project called IAMA Coin.
For IAMA Coin, he had six vials of blood drawn. He stamped the contract address onto 100 pieces of paper in blood, believing that he “successfully connected my physical body to the virtual works,” where the virtual works are “as pieces of me.”
“Blockchain seems like it has potential to offer a different economic logic that structures society, and so a lot of artists are interested in the social implications of blockchain and crypto,” said Michael Connor, the artistic director of Rhizome. Connor added he had seen an increase of cryptocurrency-related artworks in emerge in 2017.
Capturing the Decentralized Ethos
Abosch’s works in regards to how they are created, purchased and sold also capture the zeitgeist, especially the cryptocurrency movement. An example is the purchase of a neon sculpture Abosche created from a blockchain address that represented Lamborghinis.
The artwork is known as YELLOW LAMBO (2018), purchased by a former tech executive who paid more than the price of an actual Lamborghini for the sculpture made headlines like the Potato#345. The artwork has also been referenced as a joke in the cryptocurrency community concerning the use of cryptocurrency profits to buy Lamborghinis.
Abosch had also created a token called YLAMBO and created its address into a yellow neon physical sculpture. It sold for $400,000 to Michael Jackson, the former chief operating officer of Skype at a San Francisco art fair.
“You meet people in the crypto world who throw millions into coins backed by nothing, but don’t understand how a piece of art has any value,” said Abosch. “Then you meet people in the art world who don’t understand why you would invest money in the art that has no physical manifestation. That’s where it gets exciting for me.”