Art in the Age of Ubiquitous Media


The academic journal VCS – Visual Cultural Studies, published by Mimesis, just came out with a special double issue on Art in the Age of Ubiquitous Media, edited by Sean Cubitt and Valentino Catricalà. It features a gorgeous selection of essays by great authors, including my essay “Crypto Art Does Not Exist. Coming to Terms with an Unfortunate Art Label”. You can find and buy the journal on Mimesis’ website. Don’t be mislead by the deep time of academic journals: it is a text written in January 2022, adapting a chapter of my book Surfing with Satoshi, at the time still unpublished in English. The plus value, here, is reading it in a different context and company, with essays on related topics by Sean Cubitt, Delinda Collier, Andrea Pinotti, Ashley Lee Wong, Roger Malina among others. A short abstract is available after the break.

Domenico Quaranta, “Crypto Art Does Not Exist. Coming to Terms with an Unfortunate Art Label”, in VCS – Visual Cultural Studies, Issue 03/04, June 2022, ISSN 724-2307

The term “Crypto Art” emerged around 2017 within the communities that, following the example of Rare Pepes (obscure memes turned into collectible digital cards) and of projects such as CryptoPunks and CryptoKitties, started associating digital artworks with NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) registered on a blockchain and regulated by smart contracts. Defined in a distributed academic paper (Franceschet et al., 2019) with the help of data scientists, artists, collectors, platform owners and art scholars, the term was irresponsibly popularized by mass media and art magazines along the NFT craze in early 2021.

Yet, as an art label, “Crypto Art” is problematic on many levels. This paper offers an in-depth analysis of the way it has been used and of the practices it circumscribes, in the attempt to demonstrate its weakness and the potential danger of using it.