ARTeCHO lecture: Domenico Quaranta

  • After the NFT Craze: Utopia, Speculation and Then What? 

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    Over the last year, NFTs came to prominence mainly as a means of applying artificial scarcity and value to digital assets, and facilitating a highly speculative market of digital art objects and collectibles. Even those projects that engaged the medium in a more experimental way or attempted to establish emancipatory social dynamics were deemed successful only when they generated a consistent flow of money and investments. Attention was measured in crypto; audience engagement meant wallet engagement. Crazy financial speculation dominated everything.

    Now that the bubble has burst, many questions arise about the whole techno-social infrastructure and the artistic practices emerging from it. Is speculation somehow intrinsic to the NFT environment? Is it possible to use blockchains as a means of authentication and to creatively experiment with smart contracts without indulging in the speculative behaviours typically associated with crypto? Is there a future for NFTs without WAGMI? How can art and artists have a role in criticising and reshaping the Web3 scenario?

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    Domenico Quaranta is an art critic, curator and teacher interested in the ways in which the ongoing technological changes affect contemporary artistic practices. His texts have appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, books and catalogs. He is the author, among other things, of Beyond New Media Art (2013) and Surfing con Satoshi. Arte, blockchain e NFT (Postmedia Books, Milan 2021); and editor of several volumes, including GameScenes. Art in the Age of Videogames (2006, with M. Bittanti). Since 2005 he has curated several exhibitions, including Collect the WWWorld. The Artist as Archivist in the Internet Age (Brescia 2011; Basel and New York 2012); Cyphoria (Quadriennale 2016, Rome); Hyperemployment (MGLC, Ljubljana 2019 – 2020) and A Leap into the Void. Art Beyond Matter (GAMeC, Bergamo 2023, with L. Giusti). He is a Professor of Net Art at Accademia di Brera, Milan, and a co-founder of the Link Art Center (2011 – 2019).

    ARTeCHÓ is a European initiative to unleash the potential of the emerging arts ecosystem, created by five European institutions: SERN – Startup Europe Regions Network; Zaragoza City of Knowledge Foundation/Etopia; Meet Digital Center; Baltan Laboratories; and Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC).

    ARTeCHÓ is co-funded by the European Union. Grand agreement n° 101056278. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting can be held responsible for them.

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