Video Artists and NFT Discussion [Safe Space]

The recent thread on the LZX Public Facebook Group revealed a variety of interesting opinions on NFTs as they pertain to video artists. I have created this thread for the sake of those of us that are less than fully informed on the matter.

With this in mind, please provide and discuss resources relevant to blockchain technology and its implementation, creative implications, and environmental impact. Strong advocacy or criticism would best be supported with citations that readers can peruse for their own analysis. The FB thread has already provided a water cooler of sorts for judgement, outrage, and disinterest.

If possible, let us please isolate this thread from that sort of discourse.

(In the instance that you have a resource or perspective you would like to share but would rather not post publicly, please feel free to PM me and I can update this post with your feedback, anonymously.)

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There are some excellent NFT resources on the LZX Discord as well.

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Environmental impact: insane. Absolutely bonkers that it’s that bad. People say “proof of stake is coming” or that they have eco-friendly coins. Well, nobody’s using that stuff then. Which will people do, go to the big insanely-wasteful market or the small eco-friendly markets? In a sane world, wasting this much energy would be a criminal offense.

Implementation: a blockchain is a decentralized ledger and an NFT is a link to a piece of art. If people stop caring about your blockchain, it becomes worthless. If the link breaks (pretty common thing online),Check out the story on “Evolved Apes”, where the NFT dev vanished with the cash. No accountability, no protection, no lasting value.

Creative Implications: You cannot create a market where none exists. The reason artists can’t support themselves from art isn’t the way it’s sold. A few reasons are: oversaturated market, infinitely replicable product, high cost of living. NFTs do not solve any of these problems. Unless you make un-digitizeable or extremely marketable art, you are unlikely to earn a living making art. Really, only donation or patrons (basically donations) work, and those are still extremely top heavy. A tiny minority of creators make most of the money.

And from an aesthetic level, do you think making online art a speculative asset will improve the quality of the art? This isn’t new, the fine art world functions somewhat similarly. And what is the fine art world if not a money laundering scheme? Nobody would be interested in Rothkos or Pollacks but for the titanic sums attached to them. No offense to abstract art, I’m here so I obviously like it, but that’s reality.

When you first saw the big stories about artists making millions off of NFTs, didn’t you get a bit suspicious? I will lay out two scenarios. The first is that rich art fan tech bros decided that this new technology and the art associated with it was amazing, the future, yada yada. They spent X millions of dollars to own a link to someone else’s art (again…an NFT isn’t even the rights to someone’s art…deviant art plebs will give you much more for much less).

The second scenario is that, in the completely unregulated financial market that crypto is, some enterprising crooks pulled the oldest trick in the book: a pump and dump. What’s to stop the Etherium guy from spending big on a few key NFT artists? Literally nothing. Suddenly his coin is big news. Artists are trying to get rich quick, speculators are investing, and suckers are arriving in droves.

The idea that this is a lasting solution to any of the problems artists face (only a problem if you believe you’re entitled to make a living off of making art) is absurd. This is a speculative bubble crossed with a massive series of interconnected scams. With all scams, some people do make money. But you’re not making money because your art is good, you’re making money because people see your art as a speculative asset.

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For the sake of discussion I will assume the rhetorical position of you, as referenced in some of your you-directed points:

I personally am not creating any markets, but I think that a market analysis of the arts would substantiate that there are a variety of industries within the subcategory. With that being said, the industry is definable because some artists are supporting themselves. I do agree that oversaturation, replicability, and high costs of living affect artists as well as professionals in a variety of industries.

In the age of accessible personal electronic devices and media storage I am not sure what cannot be, in some way, digitized. I am also not sure what criteria would have to be met to say, ‘this art is extremely marketable.’ I am interested in how you came to the statistical conclusion that without these prerequisites one is unlikely to earn a living making art. Are you basing this on experience?

In both my artistic and professional life, patronage (or consumership) has always been a primary indicator of success. I don’t think this phenomena is art specific. Furthermore, I think it is often the case in capitalism that the majority of value in competitive markets is eventually consolidated in its upper membership. I mention it as an economic dynamic, not as an endorsement of this nasty consequence of unchecked competition.

I am not sure that I have made a connection between the logistical framework surrounding this artwork and its aesthetic value. The ‘quality of art’ and whether or not it can, should be, or is improving seems like a vast topic of discussion with significant cultural complexity. Could you provide something to further substantiate that the fine art world is primarily a money laundering scheme? Many industries have been penetrated by criminals. The fine arts space may be more attractive to this demographic because of the high price tags that are common in premiere catalogs. With that in mind however, I am not sure how many instances of this we would have to identify to categorize the true nature of the entire fine art world.

How are we accounting for these nobodies? Does the idea that Rothko and Pollack are totally unlikable beyond their fetched value really further the Video Artists and NFT Discussion? I think absolutism can be problematic, especially if we are summarizing ‘reality.’

Following your comments on Rothko, Pollack, and the inability of artists to support themselves, it seems like you find art as industry to be outright criminal. If you don’t believe artists are entitled to make a living making art, then how would describe those in the fine arts that are? Certainly we can’t say that these professionals are all just unwitting participants in an opportunistic criminal’s next scam.

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I think @pitfiend is only looking at the top end of the market

most people who buy art, buy art because they like it - not as an investment - but as something to decorate and enliven their otherwise sad and colourless lives/offices/homes…

yes there is some correlation with extremely expensive works of art being popular - why? because it gets the most exposure… and in some cases becomes collectable and hence tradable…

I have 3 rothko prints, for example, not because they are worth anything (they aren’t) but because I like them and I have 1 or 2 actual paintings by ‘unknown’ artists - not because I expected them to appreciate in value, but because I liked them and had cash to buy them so I did…

the major problem for artists is how to get their work to an audience who appreciates their work and has the disposable income and the inclination to buy a piece of art just because they like it…

and this applies equally to music and literature as it does to visual art, but which is significantly harder when it is a one off piece by an unknown artist than it is with say music… where herd mentality (my friends like this cd and have bought it so I should too to remain in the gang) works much more efficiently

NFTs do in some way enable this to happen - just as self published novels and pressing your own vinyl/making tapes or cds has for literature and audio art

they may not be perfect (they definitely aren’t) but they are infinitely better than making a few prints and trying to sell them on the street to passersby…

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You spelled ethereum wrong. Most nft folks are coming into crypto this last year and a half. Not suprising non tech oriented folks who just got here dont know much about the landscape or foundations of the space at large. What miffs me is people spending all this time and/or money, literally using eth, and still not knowing anything about it or self educating. I mean they kinda are, using a wallet and dapps. But i dont think incentives fully paint the picture, people were highly incentivised even before nfts blew up. Just really weird that I can talk to both someone who hates nfts and someone whos made a fortune and theres a high chance neither know what solidity is or that eth is programable. Mostly going off of reporting or second hand sources to get a rough handwave overview, mostly for self confidence. Weird. Anyway, beyond speculation and media misreporting science/stats, here is a more level headed link for an estimate of the ethereum network power consumption using a widely cited study and some gpu stats to come up with an estimate. Conclusion is it uses a bit less power than us gaming industry annually. I dont think video games are a crime against humanity because theyre wasteful and even if I did, I wouldnt freak out about what people do with their screens. Kinda like people who like and make video art versus folks that don’t get it.

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Could you provide some primary sources that we as a community could use to educate ourselves further on things such as cryptocurreny at large, ethereum, and NFTs as they pertain to ethereum?

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Lol def not playing devils advocate over the pollock rothko thing, but have you ever read who paid the piper?

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I haven’t! Assuming you have, would you mind sharing what the author might establish in regards to the integrity of the art market? At first glance, the premise seems to be that the government diverted taxpayer money to co-opt the abstract expressionism movement. While I understand that this does potentially undermine the integrity of interest in artists from that period, I don’t think it outright establishes art industry as criminal–if anything it sounds like those of us who were paying taxes at that time were inadvertent Rothoko & Pollock patrons!

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Direct sources are always best and eth scan doesnt lie

From the man himself

  • very first thing on his site and reminds me of this story

https://web.archive.org/web/20070520101901/http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,982610-1,00.html

The ethereum foundation and main website for eth has great resources, particularly the dev and learn sections.

Mastering ethereum on github is pretty good.

And crypto zombies is a popular solidity training app to get you started with the basics

Now youre kinda asking this question at a weird time. Roll ups are happening.

Starkware is the first zk rollup on main net. Zksync, polygon hermez, and others are a few months away. Whats really interesting about zkstarks is that you have optional volition or validium models as well as being composable and interoperable between L1 and L2, dapps, and potentially other chains through cairo compilers like nethermind warp.

Think of eth like one giant decentralized resource for virtual machines. One way to think of zk rollups is we just got our compiler so gas and tps is going to start scaling.

So while you should certainly learn the basics of solidity, I think focusing on cairo would be the best use of time in the not so distant future.

The long and short of it is this. Eth is programable. Bitcoin uses computing power to secure and run its network but is not programable or capable of harnessing its decentralized computing power for other tasks than securing the network. Eth is capable of running evms and smart contracts because it uses the computing power of the network for decentralized computing instead of only doing one task like bitcoin. Why do you think there are no bitcoin nft’s and almost every development in crypto (not just nft’s) and decentralization is on eth or shortly there after copied by so called eth killers. Eth is programable, ethereum virtual machines and solidity is how. Rollups will obsolete most competing L1’s, bridges, and sidechains (and should probably be where/how nft’s are made going foward). That’s essentially the basics, minus maybe dai and mkr.

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I feel like this post needs a glossary of it’s own in order to understand it…

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Just curious to know someone more knowledgeable’s opinion on the emissions impact from ethereum and/or block chain tech in general.

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The link provided is a 12 part twitter thread that critiques an energy consumption statement from https://digiconomist.net. Josh Stark, the author, is an employee of the Ethereum foundation.

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just here to chime in on the “NFTs are bad for the environment” thing because i think there’s a lot of nuance to it that gets lost in the wash.

from my perspective it seems like concerns about energy usage are 1) valid - NFT transactions use energy, energy usage produces emissions, emissions are undeniably bad - but also 2) a little more than slightly narrow-sighted. it seems like most anti-NFT people don’t realize there is more than one marketplace for NFTs, spread across multiple blockchains, at least a few of which are far less energy-hungry than ETH. in fact, that Medium article says, and i quote:

“Cryptoart is bought and sold with- and has its value calculated in- Ethereum”

which is only partly true, here in November of 2021, regardless of how true it may have been when that article was written (March 2021). most people don’t seem to fully grasp how fast the crypto space changes, and to be fair it’s pretty difficult to keep up with unless you’re willing to dedicate considerable time and effort to doing so, and if you have been convinced to hate something why would you bother? in any case, thanks to extensive efforts to avoid the environmental impact of NFTs on Ethereum, Tezos is home to a burgeoning pair of NFT marketplaces, namely Hic et Nunc a.k.a. HEN and Kalamint and i’m pretty sure there are a few more. i haven’t done my own research but i’ve read a few articles comparing energy consumption of Tezos with that of Ethereum and the difference is pretty incredible.

the reasons i mention Tezos are manifold:

  1. it’s a fantastic alternative to ETH and fulfills many of the roles and functions of ETH before the endless gas wars began, like quick transaction times, low fees, smart contract support, etc.
  2. the art on HEN is FANTASTIC. it’s a wonderful home for weird art of all shapes and sizes, from video glitch to 3D models, surrealist gifs to oil paintings, photography, profile pic collections and more
  3. at least a few of the available wallets for Tezos are easily accessible and require little knowledge to set up, making on-boarding beginners a breeze (at least compared with other blockchains :sweat_smile:)
  4. it’s proof of stake, not proof of work, meaning power-hungry GPU-based “miners” are absent here, replaced by “bakers” who can secure the network with as little as a Raspberry Pi (and a wallet full of Tezos)

and that last point in particular is a sticky one for me - “proof of stake” versus “proof of work”. in theory ETH should have transitioned to proof of stake by now, but instead remains stubbornly in proof of work territory. lots of opinions/theories as to why this is, from “the upgrade simply isn’t ready yet” to “miners will always vote against proof of stake because proof of work is more profitable to them” but whatever the reason ETH is stuck in the past as a result. i’ve seen the way a lot of people talk about this within the space and many of them don’t give half a **** about the emissions, exorbitant gas costs or artists, and some even say the high gas prices are GOOD for the network, making it expensive to secure - and as a result, expensive to attack. but this also makes fees high for artists getting started on the platform, defeating at least one purpose of crypto in the first place - universal accessibility and usage.

ok ok getting a little far from the main thread here so it’s time to conclude:

  1. not all NFTs are murdering the planet. or if they are, they are not murdering the planet any more than you making coffee in the morning, or eating a steak for dinner, or watching YouTube for 13,700 hours :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: seriously though - you can feel free to complain about the environmental impact, but you’ve gotta take into consideration the whole picture. while NFTs on Tezos doesn’t reduce the impact of NFTs on ETH, it does provide a clean, affordable alternative which an ever-growing number of artists is finding attractive.
  2. ETH is supposed to transition from the not so good proof of work to the much better proof of stake in early 2022, so power usage will decline drastically and overall efficiency will increase. until then (and hopefully beyond then, as well) Hic et Nunc and Kalamint are holding the banner of the #cleanNFT movement on Tezos (and i’m sure there are some other projects on Tezos and beyond doing the same)

and one last thing. i have heard NFTs described as ponzis, scams, money laundering schemes, etc. etc. etc. and while there are definitely projects out there that i would consider ponzis and/or scams and/or money laundering schemes, there are plenty of honest hard-working artists trying to eke out a living with these new platforms as well. will NFTs solve the many inherent problems with the art world? probably not. but they are currently providing a new way for artists to buy, sell and exchange new kinds of works and that’s pretty darn cool (and maybe later i’ll share more of my thoughts about this particular topic in another post).

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I was thinking of physical crafts, carvings and the like. I don’t know how it would be possible to study this in any rigorous way. But every form of art I can think of (let’s take music) is extremely top-heavy, with a few artists making the majority of the money.

I don’t think it’s art specific either. It’s something that can be generalized to that tier of professional/media jobs. And that tendency you bring up shows up in different ways in different fields.

Don’t overthink it, I’m not gonna do any philosophy of aesthetics stuff cause I’m dumb. For me the quality of art is tied to the nature of its production. If people are producing art with the intent of selling it to a consumer, that’s one thing. Producing art to introduce it to a secondary speculative market as a financial asset would, in my mind, make some really wack art.

I’m not saying it is prosecutable. But I do think that a sane legal system would treat most of the fine art world as criminal. Whether you are literally laundering cartel money or buying tons of art to get tax breaks, it’s not that different.

I reached for a poor example, not trying to demean abstract art. I like abstract art. But someone did bring up the Congress for Cultural Freedom before I could, there is something there with how abstract art attracted intel funding due to its perceived apolitical nature. CCF and other front groups were propaganda arms of the CIA, they also heavily influenced the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and ran the Paris Review. They funded a lot of art that put the individual, the self, and personal sensory experience at the forefront, instead of politics, systems, and collective action.

It’s a tangent, but yeah there probably shouldn’t be full-time artists. Full-time artists can only really be full-time because other people are doing the drudgery. In a different political economy, more people would be doing art because they have more free time and not because it’s a career. And yeah, I think “unwitting participants in a scam” works as a summation. But there’s a lot of industries that could be applied to. It’s not that art is that unique.

I don’t buy this analogy. With those you’re buying a copy of the art that you can enjoy. The NFT is, again, just a link.

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I was more meaning from the artists perspective - ie “how do I get my work into a market place that has exposure to the sort of people that may actually support my work and a big enough population of them that someone may actually hand over some money”

to a certain extent whilst when you buy a cd or dvd or a physical copy of some software for example, you are buying something physical - what you are really buying is a licence to access the data on the physical medium - read the eula!

cash really works the same way - you have a token that you can exchange for goods, but it’s not backed by anything physical (anymore) - just an agreement (licence) that the piece of paper or metal has a value

also NFTs can be linked to physical items - I’ve seen quite a few where an actual physical item (or items) is also included in the price of the NFT, not just the link to the digital work

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as for there shouldn’t be full time artists… hahahaha… there really should be - creative ideas are not something that can be turned on and off at will and quite a bit of art is drudgery - often the execution of the art is hard, time consuming work, especially the production of ‘physical’ media

are you also of the belief that musicians, actors, writers, cinematographers etc shouldn’t be paid for their work? - after all they would probably all class themselves as artists - just of different media

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What you’re describing is a patronage model with extra steps. The ultimate goal is to find patrons who are willing to donate money. The role of the NFT here is merely advertising…advertising attached to an environmentally wasteful, unregulated financial asset.

Sure…but you can watch the movie or use the software. You can’t do anything with an NFT that a jpeg can’t do, except attempt to sell it for more than you paid.

I would go further than you and say that gold- or silver-backed currencies are not distinct from fiat currency. Gold and silver have no intrinsic value (perhaps now they do with their use in electronics) outside of a political economy that establishes them as holding value. Money is backed by the political system and economy of whatever country mints it (you could also say the USD is backed by control of petroleum, imperial hegemony, etc). And as for crypto/NFTs, nobody’s backing them or regulating them.

Seems like an autograph with extra steps.

Of course not, a worker with a paintbrush is still a worker. But the music or film industry as they’re currently structured should not exist. Most full-time artists are in some way dependent on a few massive trusts that run the industry (record labels, event promoters, films studios, publishing companies, etc) and need to be broken up or made public. A lot of artists wouldn’t be able to make their current living if that happened. Huge derailment but oh well

There’s nothing about being able to live as a full-time artist that makes you more or less creative except for time. Rather than see a few people who can be artists, I’d rather see more people overall with the time and resources to spend making art. Raising the floor, not the ceiling. I’d rather 10 people spend 1 hour more every day making art than one person spend 10 hours.

That art can be difficult is not the point. Many things can be difficult without being useful or important, and learning any skill can be difficult without being drudgery. People do art willingly without compensation, given the chance. People don’t often do alienating menial labor without compensation.

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maybe you raise some good points…
so how as a video artist do I get access to advertising to sell my art? NFTs represent one way of doing this… which is reasonably open to access for me and for many other others - to some extent all sale of art by the artist to anyone else is along the lines of ‘a patronage model with extra steps’

you could look at the jpg - and keep it - you could display it on your wall etc etc and you could sell it like you could sell a book or dvd or whatever on to another user

I’ve seen NFTs where a hard installation of video art - ie a monitor and a method of playback - is included in the price of the nft

can’t argue with you about the structure of the music/film/publishing industry, but in order to get rid of that then not only do we need a viable alternative - but we also need the the uber-rich who own the system to give it up - which they won’t do easily or without a fight…

I think 90+% of the population has little to no artistic or creative motivation - I’d rather that those that do have the time to do do it

as for drudgery without compensation - I think a lot of mothers and housewives would disagree!

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Tried to give you all the tools to get started but I understand if it comes across as a massive tldr data dump. Maybe this glossary is more like what you have in mind?. Truely just mess w the tech. People so obsessed w the financial angle and tokenomics are missing out. Ive made more simply using web3 dapps and protocols i thought were interesting or useful than I have in my annual salary or from any one trade. Just look at the uni,ens,dydx,…airdrops. it pays to have no or low expectations and just try stuff that is actually cool or intetesting as the incentive. Who actually thought ens was going to do an airdrop? Just saying, dont get overwhelmed and stay focused on the signal vs the noise. Like most nft folks should really be focused on developing their own contracts and then be looking into how to scale rather than how come they arent selling like frogapedickbutts. Chances are simply launching or experimenting with dapps and protocols to do this will open up opportunities and connect you to communites in the space by getting involved

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