Continuing to stretch the definitions of ‘NFTs’ and ‘art’, today I’m reviewing a project from Nick Bax offering meta commentary on web2’s unsavory data mining practices — some El Prof pandering if I’ve ever seen it.
Basically, when you click on something in a traditional web interface such as http(s), bots, via APIs, can read your Internet behavior in real time. Despite their decentralized missions, MetaMask and OpenSea, being web2 properties in practice, both enable this vulnerability, leaving their users open to scraping attacks. So Bax decided to bring their capabilities to the forefront, with an NFT that will display your own IP address back to you as soon as you even view it on OpenSea.
Now, Bax’s artistic vision is clearly in the concept, not the execution — a borderline incestuous Simpsons x South Park mashup I almost projectile vomited at the sight of. Nevertheless, objectivity doesn’t exist in art, and it has successfully provoked a conversation, so I’d say it’s got as much artistic value as anything else on OS.
After all, it is a conversation worth having. Most NFTs don’t actually record files to the blockchain, but instead point as a travel sign to where the file packets are stored on a secondary distributed network, which can be updated to display with anything, at any time, if developed to do so. What value is there in publicly declaring an arbitrary pointer to a file on an immutable public ledger, if the underlying data can change without notice?
Just another example of the many paradoxes of the blockchain. Also, of me co-opting provocative conversations as a jumping off point for whatever the hell I want to talk about. Which is true ‘art’, if there is such a thing.