Sorry for including that walking body horror trigger warning in a column called ‘Art’. Sometimes it’s worth going to extremes to make a point. Like why the Azuki NFTs, in a mere month, beat out Bored Ape Yacht Club in trading volume with an ahegao-inducing $300m and landed as spot as the 8th bestselling collection of all time. Forbes recently ran a piece attempting to answer that question, but the only explanation they could muster was… they’re cooler? I guess?
At the risk of dumbing art down into a completely subjective binary, I’ve gotta say, it’s true. I mean, sure, all Azuki has done is swap BAYC’s ‘furry fetish snuff porn’ vibe for a ‘softcore hentai thirst trap’ aesthetic. But, like, if both are just arbitrary status symbols anyway, wouldn’t you rather show a screenshot of a sexy bamboo-cheefing punk samurai than some Cronenberg concept art scraped off the cutting room floor when your parents ask why you just spent $40k on a JPG?
Besides, art collecting and appreciation is a completely subjective binary. Either you like something or you don’t. If you like it, you’ll buy it — figuratively, as a concept you can get behind, or literally, as a jumble of code allowing it to show up in a gallery on your phone. Or, if you don’t, you won’t. The Metaverse is 1s and 0s all the way down.
Sure, NFTs are all about ownership and access and libertarian utopias et al — although, for what it’s worth, Azuki’s community building ambitions are tame in comparison to most of these PFP projects. According to their roadmap, they’re in the brand building business. So, basically, they set out to build something cool people would buy. (Or buy into.) And, whether or not you personally do, objectively, they did. In the algotrash-dominated world of art3, it’s nice to know aesthetics still count for something.
But, while we’re on the topic of cool shit and subjectivity, I’ll just leave this here: