Surf’s up dude! the wild and wacky crypto pipeline is gnarlier than ever, and while the Great White Shark—the Art World—or at least its more dyed in the wool Collectors, look upward and outward with squinty reluctance at the unseasonably savory swells, an arguably democratizing and inarguably bizarre moment has arrived upon our cultural shores. Yes, Non-Fungible Tokens (transactional digital artworks, basically) are the soup du jour, the talk of the town. The ‘‘minting’’ of NFTs and their online brokerage are creating a sort of cultural craze as a new lexicon of price tags, platforms, ownership, transference, unlockability—all pegged to ‘‘Ethereum’’, a digital currency—have seen entities as varied as The NBA to Kings of Leon to David Zwirner dip their toes in the salty seas of next generation creative commerce and propriety. And it’s really fun! It’s also really weird, and by the time you read this, things will already have changed in the space, as the cultural phenomena is shape-shifting on a daily basis (a la the corny oceanic wave metaphor above).
Enter artist Jen Stark, a multi-media artist who lives out here in LA, and whose optically-seductive sculptures, paintings, animations, and mojo make her an extremely appealing prospect in the NFT and crypto art world. Stark is that 21st century sweet spot of artistic talent—like, you can actually touch much of her super cool work—met with a curiosity and enthusiasm for innovation and invention in the digital stratosphere. A killer hybrid! And, like much of the conversation as it concerns the NFT dance, Stark’s dynamism is evidenced, accounted for, and documented online (one of the “weirder” symptoms of artsy crypto-capitulation, she’ll remark to me). To whit: Stark, who created this issue’s art cover, became one of the more notable names in the NFT explosion a couple months back, when her artwork, Multiverse, sold to a collector for 150 Ethereum. At the time, that sum amounted to $250,000. At present (and again we’re bearing in mind what is likely to be a yo-yo style journey as it relates to Ethereum valuation in the coming weeks, months, whatever), the artwork—now of course no longer in Stark’s “possession”, but in the “possession” of a person online, in an exclusive online network of other crypto-enthusiasts—values at something closer to $620,000. Jesus Christ!!! What the hell is going on!?!?!
Naturally, there’s some balking afoot regards certain NFT successes, given so many of these online commodities are exclusively that—rendered in Illustrator, After Effects, or the like—never to take that first step in the real world. Add that some of these artworks are fetching considerably higher sums than those of other artists who render bronze into realistic figures, or use oil to paint stunning scenery, could be said to leave a lot of room for detestation. For wariness, for dismissiveness.