Note from the Editor: “The Artifact” is not your conventional news source—mainly because it is not a news source at all. What this weekly Sunday article provides is a platform where world events are juxtaposed with works of art, finding reflections and similarities in the often-frictional relationship between the “real world” and the “art world.” It is the case that most works of art, abstract or representative, tend to imitate life or an aspect of it. The Artifact, complementarily, seeks to find life situations that imitate works of art already made.
With My Mind On My Bitcoin And My Bitcoin On My Mind
The media has been buzzing these past weeks over “Bitcoin” (just take a glance at the Google-trends statistics for the term), the world’s most popular digital currency. Released in 2009 by a certain “Satoshi Nakamoto” (nobody knows whether this pseudonym belongs to an individual or collective), this invisible currency has been increasingly capturing the imagination—and pockets—of investors. Even the Winklevoss twins have recently jumped inside the frenzy, allegedly owning $11 million worth of bitcoin stock.
I will not get here into the complex specifics of how it all works (besides not understanding it myself), but to get a gist of it, here is this deceivingly easy-to-grasp video:
What is Bitcoin? by Weusecoins
What is remarkable here is that, being a peer-to-peer market, the value of a bitcoin lies solely on the acceptance of its users. Yes, it has no intrinsic value other than the belief in it and, of course, the monetary rate at which this belief is exchanged.
The art world—ever so in tune with the culture in which we live—has its own Bitcoin market equivalent: The Museum of Non Visible Art (MONA). Created in 2011 by Praxis (Brainard and Delia Carey) with a special collaboration by James Franco (who recently showed Berlin his artistic side), this museum specializes in showcasing works of art that can only be described but not be seen. What? Here, I’ll let them explain it:
Kickstarter for MONA by Praxis & James Franco
Like bitcoin, the value and authentication of each invisible work of art depends on the acceptance of the buyer and the belief in, if anything, the concept behind the project. Take for example the case of Aimee Davison who, strongly identifying with the ideology behind the project, bought a $10,000 invisible piece titled “Fresh Air.”
From its kickstarter page, the creators of this project remind us that, “As these non-visible works of art are bought, exchanged, and resold, they open our eyes to the unseen universe that exists at every moment, and we can share that universe. It is like finding the code beneath. We exchange ideas and dreams as currency in the New Economy.”
Sure, send in the skeptics; those who say both Bitcoin and MONA are hoaxes or ponzi schemes. After all, it is no secret that due to the decentralized and untraceable nature of Bitcoin, it has become the perfect transaction method for drug dealers. But the fact is that there’s “real” money attributed to both the value of a bitcoin and the invisible works of art, giving a certain level of authentication to the overall process.
What both Bitcoin and MONA ultimately reveal is that, from pokemon cards to religion, we are willing to put our money on the table for the visible as much as the invisible–as long as someone else agrees with us. Aren’t the new clothes that the emperor is wearing today simply stunning?
Article by Jovanny Varela-Ferreyra