A generator of unique digital objects that can only be viewed once.
A central construct of the booming cryptoart market is the creation of artificial scarcity through the “tokenization” of digital objects using NFTs. These certificates of ownership act as indexes to digital artworks, pointing anyone to the objects themselves (e.g., an image file on a server) and making possible the easy sale and resale of (presumed) ownership rights. This push towards commodification not only comes with high ecological costs (due to the energy use incurred with each cryptocurrency transaction) but also threatens to reconfigure the focus of many digital/software/net artists into the production of saleable and non-threatening work that is easily recognizable as “art” to the speculative finance crowd. Tokenize This is a net art work that proposes one possible structure of resistance against the threats posed by NFTs. The site, available from https://tokenizethis.link, produces upon each new visit a “unique digital object” that includes a custom color gradient and guaranteed exclusive identification code, all referenced by a matching URL. Yet different from the typical website whose URLs act as persistent indexes to a page and its contents, Tokenize This destroys each work right after its creation. While the unique digital object remains viewable by the original visitor 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. While this structure doesn’t block someone from selling an NFT that points to a Tokenize This page, it does ensure that the page it points to will never be seen by the purchaser of that NFT. Most broadly, the work acts in opposition to the capitalist ideologies embedded in NFTs and the ways in which cryptoart 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.