Blockchain technology’s many features have made it a hit in the art world, most notably the ability to stop forgeries and give artists a cut of future sales.
But one of blockchain’s less heralded features has caused something of a rift in the art world: its carbon footprint.
Crypto art, which had been viewed as a space for artists seeking stronger resale rights and protections from copyright infringement, as well as a more inclusive scene than traditional art world institutions, is at the center of a fiery debate over its impact on the environment. And many in the community are heeding the call to abolish existing processes for greener alternatives.
“Every single artist that I’ve spoken to doesn’t want to destroy the environment,” said Stuart Campbell, an Australian artist who goes by Sutu. “That’s a great place to come to the conversation at.”
Sutu is the moderator of a group on the chat app Discord called Clean-NFTs, a channel that kicked off in the last few weeks to talk about the ecological impact of crypto art, which now has more than 1,000 members. Sutu said his investigation of crypto art’s environmental impact began when a fan of his artwork replied to one of his tweets by vowing to no longer follow anyone in the community because of the environmental toll of NFT art.
In simple terms, crypto art is digital art but on the blockchain. That crucial difference creates an incorruptible platform to sell and collect digital art. That’s because each work of art is minted with a unique nonfungible token, known as an NFT — a sort of digital certificate of authenticity, or “proof of work.”
But the physical processes many platforms use to encode the artwork onto the blockchain use electricity — and plenty of it. Artist and computer scientist Memo Akten wrote a blog post on Medium in December detailing “how ludicrously energy consuming and ecologically destructive some blockchain based activities are.”
The post took off online — not just in the art community, but also among environmentalists and technologists — pushing artists and consumers to re-evaluate how they approach the crypto art space. Akten followed up his posts and his carbon emissions calculator (which was recently taken offline because of abuse and harassment) with a guide to eco-friendly crypto art.
Akten said he thinks the community is split. Some artists and fans are disengaging entirely until sustainable solutions are created. And then there are those who deny the energy-consuming reality altogether.
“There is very strong misinformation-based propaganda in the crypto world in general to deny the ecological impact of proof-of-work-based blockchains,” Akten said. “It is reminiscent of the oil and tobacco industries.” Akten said there are also “many whataboutisms, comparing the figures to the carbon footprint of the banking industry, fast fashion, McDonald’s, etc.”
But there’s also a push to find more energy-efficient systems that preserve the upsides of crypto art.
Proof-of-work is the computing process that the crypto art marketplace has laid its foundation on, but the process uses a large amount of computing power. Sutu and others have instead pointed to proof-of-stake, a far more efficient process, as a better way forward.
Unlike proof-of-work, which guzzles electricity as computers crunch through extremely complex puzzles as “proofs” to verify transactions, proof-of-stake promotes reliability with a financial incentive — users deposit some of their cryptocurrency as proof that they own it and that they have a personal stake in the system’s accuracy.
While engineers work toward moving to proof-of-stake, “what the community itself needs is to take some ownership on what we can do in the short and medium term,” said Jason Bailey, who started the art analytics and digital art blog Artnome.
Bailey said he noticed that artists who have degrees or day jobs in tech were, in some cases, shaming artists who come from less privileged backgrounds and lean on the new crypto art marketplace to feed themselves and their families rather than as a side hustle.
“I don’t dislike either side of those groups, and it bothered me that I saw so much emotional energy and human energy being burnt up without a lot of progress being made,” he said.
And so Bailey launched Green NFTs, a bounty system for creating more eco-friendly NFT systems by encouraging people to donate money for a shared cause. For this bounty, some of the money will go to creating a consolidated body of research for artists and collectors and some will go to developers creating open-source solutions. The grant has raised more than $34,000.
Panels are also forming in response to the discourse. Sutu moderated the conversation “Eco-friendly NFTs: Are they bulls—?” on the social audio app Clubhouse last month and moderated a panel about the community response this month on Twitter Spaces.
It’s not uncommon for viral outrage to fade, but the discourse around NFTs’ environmental damage shows no signs of slowing. And it’s not inherently a doomerism mindset — it’s a turning point in which artists and gatekeepers can ask for and create more energy-efficient systems without stamping out the ethos of the decentralized creator economy.
Sutu said that while the art world might only be a small part of the broader blockchain community, it still has the opportunity to take responsibility and show a better way forward.
“We still can lead when we see an opportunity to lead within our industry,” he said. “We’ve seen alternatives available to be more energy-efficient. Why not jump on that now, why not lead the way, why not show how the art community can influence those other industries to follow suit, especially if they are interacting with the blockchain?”
Imaginations, creativity of Mountview students on display at Cariboo Art Beat
Creative, imaginative artwork of students from Mountview Elementary School will be on public display at the gallery of Cariboo Art Beat until April 9.
“The students of Mountview elementary were all invited to participate in an art contest,” Tiffany Jorgensen said, an artist at Cariboo Art Beat.
Each class was separately judged by three professional artists at Cariboo Art Beat, Jorgensen said, based on the students’ creativity, techniques, use of space and originality.
“It was extremely difficult to select pieces from the abundance of beautiful art presented,” she said. “There is so much talent and fantastic imaginations.”
The artist of each selected piece was given formal invitations to their art show to distribute to whomever they choose, and Jorgensen said anyone is free to view the beautiful artwork throughout until April 9.
Honoured at the show were works from local artists Ryker Hagen, Annika Nilsson, Rylie Trampleasure, Angus Shoults, Izabella Telford, Isabella Buchner, Kai Pare and more.
“Come view their wonderful pieces to get a glimpse into the minds of our creative youth,” Jorgensen said.
“It’s been so fun. The kids have come in and seen their work on display with their grandparents, parents, and they’re all so excited.”
Following up on the success of the Mountview art show, Jorgensen said more elementary schools have been invited to participate.
April will feature the works of Nesika and Big Lake, followed by Marie Sharpe and Chilcotin Road next month.
Cariboo Art Beat is located at 19 First Ave., under Caribou Ski Source for Sports’ entrance on Oliver Street.
Source:– Williams Lake Tribune – Williams Lake Tribune
Launching the conversation on Newfoundland and Labrador art history
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —
“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is a book that has been a long time coming, Mireille Eagan says.
While working at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Prince Edward Island, Eagan curated an exhibition marking the 60th anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador joining Confederation with Canada.
“As I was researching, I noticed that there was very little that existed in terms of the art history of this province,” she said. “There wasn’t even a Wikipedia article.”
Noticing this large gap, “Future Possible” was a book that needed to exist, she said.
As the 70th anniversary approached in 2019, Eagan, now living in St. John’s and working as curator of contemporary art at The Rooms, envisioned filling that gap.
Over two summers, The Rooms held a two-part exhibition. The first looked at the visual culture and visual narratives before the province joined Confederation and the second focused on 1949 onward, Eagan said.
“At its core, it was asking, what are the stories we tell ourselves as a province? It was looking at iconic artworks, it was looking at texts that have been written about this place, and it put these works in conversation with contemporary artworks,” Eagan said.
In the foreword to the book, chief executive officer of The Rooms Anne Chafe described it as a complement to the exhibition and a project that “does not seek to be the final say. It seeks, instead, to launch the conversation.”
History and identity
One example of that conversation between the past and the present mentioned by Eagan is the work of artist Bushra Junaid, who moved to St. John’s from Montreal as a baby. The daughter of a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father, Junaid said her experience growing up in the province in the 1970s, where she always the only Black child in the room, was not like most.
“All of my formative years, my schooling and everything, took place in St. John’s,” she said. “It’s very much shaped my current preoccupation.”
Her interest in history, identity and representation led her to making “Two Pretty Girls…,” which used an archival photograph of Caribbean sugarcane workers from 1903 with text from advertisements for sugar, molasses and rum from archived copies of The Evening Telegram collaged over the women’s clothing.
In her essay “Of Saltfish and Molasses” published in “Future Possible,” she described the work as “(allowing) me to place these women and their labour within the broader historical context of the international trade in commodities that underpinned Caribbean slavery and its afterlife.”
It’s a direct connection between Newfoundland and people in the Caribbean, a historical line not often drawn through the context of the transatlantic slave trade, but one she knows personally through the stories told by her mother, Adassa, about their ancestor, Sisa, who “as a teenager, survived the horrors of the Middle Passage, enduring the voyage from West Africa to Jamaica in the hold of a slave ship (Junaid).”
A book like “Future Possible” allows people to interpret themselves and their past, present and future, Junaid says.
“I appreciate the ways in which they really worked to make it as broad and diverse as possible,” she said. “It’s also striving to tell the Indigenous history of the place, the European settler history … and then also looking for … non-Western backgrounds such as myself. It’s enriching.”
What shapes us
St. John’s writer Lisa Moore contributed an essay called “Five Specimens from Another Time” that weaves together moments from her own life, the province’s history and current realities and the art that has inspired her over the years.
“It’s really interesting to me to see all this work of people that I’ve written about in the past and whose work influenced me, even in my writing of fiction, and then newer artists,” Moore said. “I just think that the book is a total gift.”
With such a rich cultural history ready to be written, she imagines “Future Possible” is just the first of what could be many books about art in the province now that the “ice is cracked.”
“The writers that (Eagan) has chosen to write here are also really exciting critics from all over the province, talking about all kind of different periods in art history,” she said.
As time passes, the meaning of the works in the book becomes richer, she said.
Mary Pratt’s 1974 “Cod Fillets on Tin Foil” and Scott Goudie’s 1991 “Muskrat Falls,” for instance, are two images with seemingly straightforward and simple subject matter. But any viewer looking now, who is aware of the cod moratorium and the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam, would find it difficult to see and interpret these images outside of those contexts.
“Artists, writers, filmmakers … they’re keen observers of culture and the moment that we live in,” Moore said. “They present things that are intangible like the feeling of a moment, or the culmination of social, political and esthetic powers that come together at a given time and shape us.”
“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is available online and in stores.
Parrott Art Gallery goes virtual to help flatten the curve – The Kingston Whig-Standard
Feeling stir crazy because of COVID and the latest lock-down? Take a virtual trip to Morocco!
On Wednesday, April 14 at 2:30 p.m., the Parrott Gallery will host Lola Reid Allin’s Armchair Traveler online presentation: “Morocco: Sea, Sand and Summit”. Allin is an accomplished photographer, pilot, writer and speaker. Travel with her through the land of dramatic contrast and hidden jewels, busy markets and medieval cities, and enjoy some virtual sun.
For more information and to register for this free online event, please visit bellevillelibrary.ca/armchair-traveller.php. The Armchair Traveller Morocco photography exhibit is also available to view through the Parrott Gallery website until mid-May.
Even though our gallery is currently closed to the public, our exhibitions are all available to view online. Sam Sakr’s show “The Housing Project” is certain to bring a smile to your face. His collection of mixed media artwork will take you to a playful land of fantastical creatures that inhabit imaginary, stylized cityscapes. If your spirit needs uplifting, you need to see to see this show. I hope that everyone will be able to view Sakr’s work both online and then in our gallery after the lock-down ends in May. Without a doubt, it will be worth the wait to see it again in-person when we re-open.
Another exhibition that you can currently visit on the Parrott Gallery website is the group show “Spring Sentiments: a Reflection of Art in Isolation”. This was a collaborative effort by the 39 artists who submitted their work, our staff who put the show together in the gallery and online, and our guest curator Jessica Turner. We are thrilled that Jessica was able to transcribe her experience with this show into a final paper for her Curatorial Studies BFA degree at OCADU.
The fact that we have had to close our doors just as this show was opening is a sad reflection of the theme as the audience must now reflect on this artwork at home, in isolation. The up-side to viewing this exhibition online is that one can read the artist statements that accompany the work and get a more in depth view of the artists’ perspectives. We encourage viewers to support our artists by sending in their comments and to vote for their favourites in the show by following the appropriate link on the webpage.
When you can’t come in to our building, the Parrott Gallery will bring the artwork to you. And then when the sun and flowers come out in May, and when it is safe to return to our gallery on the third floor of the Belleville Public Library, we hope to see you all again.
For questions about our online talk, our shows, or to purchase any of the artwork please call us at 613-968-6731 x 2040 or email us at email@example.com.
Wendy Rayson-Kerr is the Acting Curator at the John M. Parrott Art Gallery.
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