My work Tokenize This is part of The Byzantine Generals Problem at distant.gallery. Curated by Domenico Quaranta and produced by Aksioma, it’s an online exhibition focused on artworks which, while not avoiding to engage with blockchains and crypto culture, do so in a critically constructive way: questioning dominant narratives, raising problems, and sometimes proposing alternative solutions.
Here’s Domenico writing about Tokenize This in his curatorial essay:
If artworks have often been instrumental to speculative drives, this has never been the case for born-digital art, which didn’t resist commodification (especially in the form of post-digital derivatives) but was rarely perceived as a speculative investment. Before the advent of blockchains and smart contracts, the only digital asset equipped with scarcity was the domain name, which sometimes acquired economic value because of its inherent qualities (short, effective, easy to remember) or its accumulated attention and incoming links rather than its content. Artists working with digital media acknowledged the challenge they were presenting to cultural markets and their intrinsic resistance to market logic, and often found in it and in the freedom it allowed the raison d’etre of their entire practice. Tokenize This (2020) by Ben Grosser is an explicit call to the net art community to not forget that freedom. Released at the height of the NFT craze, Tokenize This is a net art work that generates uniqueness while resisting commodification. Upon each new visit, the site produces a “unique digital object” that includes a custom colour gradient and guaranteed exclusive identification code, all referenced by a matching URL. What makes Tokenize This different from the typical website whose URLs act as persistent indexes for a page and its contents is that it destroys each page right after its creation. While the original visitor can view the unique digital object for as long as they leave their browser tab open, any subsequent attempt to copy, share or view that URL in another tab, browser or system leads to a “404 Not Found” error. In other words, Tokenize This generates countless digital artifacts that can only be viewed or accessed once. The work acts in opposition to the capitalist ideologies embedded in NFTs and the ways in which NFT markets have already thrust an often anti-capitalist and anti-corporate art medium into a 21st-century gold rush get-rich-quick kind of frenzy.
You can watch the opening event with the curator:
Artists in the show include Anna Ridler, Ben Grosser, Constant Dullaart, DIS, Face or Factory, Kyle McDonald, LaTurbo Avedon, Moxie Marlinspike, Nascent, Rhea Myers, Sarah Friend, Sarah Meyohas, Simon Denny / Guile Twardowski / Cosmographia, Sterling Crispin, and The Miha Artnak. It is on view indefinitely.