Community and Crypto Art

Fragmented Iridescence — @julianbrangold

This piece is also available in Spanish (thank you Julian for the translation) here.

M○C△ is about pursuing and establishing sustainability, cooperation, creative freedom, and stability for artists in the crypto art scene. M○C△’s collaboration with Cryptoarg: as a homegrown collective of artists seeking to support, enrich, and uplift one another, there is a natural connection between this community and M○C△ and mutually shared values and aims.

Cryptoarg seeks to “change the rhythm at which crypto art is produced and consumed” (Quotes in this piece are taken directly from Cryptoarg artists who spoke at the Cryptoarg x M○C△ exhibition in Decentraland on 7/16) by shifting the focus away from big names and big sales and towards a more holistic and art-centric approach, one that values “time and patience” over trying frantically to adapt to and capitalize on hype cycles. Shifting the focus away from these unforgiving patterns and towards a more natural tempo that reflects the realities of a healthy artistic process is of paramount importance for the sustainability and growth of the crypto community. The broader idea here is to “change the rhythm at which crypto art is produced and consumed,” allowing artist and collector alike the opportunity for deeper engagement with the art itself.

This necessitates a shift towards inclusivity and accessibility in a space that doesn’t always provide enough of either of those things. Offering support within a welcoming community as well as resources to new and prospective artists would have an enormous positive impact in the community. Artists new to the crypto scene can feel “bombarded by big sales and big names,” not to mention the practical realities of coming to grips with the technological landscape. Simply by creating and fostering a discourse that focuses less on name recognition, on branding, and on the market (while introducing and instructing newcomers in a gentler way), the community could go a long way towards creating a healthier ecosystem for artists and creators.

Cryptoarg provides an example to aspire to: through a shared background that is oftentimes chaotic and conflicted, a community has emerged to help individual artists traverse the similarly chaotic and conflicted metaverse. This is a community that is open and welcoming, that provides mutual support (including education and technical support) and promotion for its members, and allows artists to aid one another in navigating the hectic and fluctuating international waters that make up the NFT space.

Imagine, for a moment, the difficulties facing an Argentine artist approaching this space; beyond the obvious and known barriers to entry there is a language barrier and complicated political and economic realities domestically and internationally. Much of the art produced by Cryptoarg reflects the chaos and dissonance of contemporary existence — the general upheaval brought on by dizzying technological advancement, decaying and inadequate public institutions, the alienation and isolation that goes hand in hand with modern life.

M○C△ and Crytpoarg have a shared ethos: the primacy of artists, and the vital importance of sustainability via collaboration. “Art-making and living off your art is not a zero-sum game:” it is not only possible but necessary for artists and collectors alike to create a self-sustaining and self-enriching community. Only through a healthy symbiosis and mutual support can a truly healthy scene emerge.

The strength of this movement is borne out of the same problems that necessitated its inception, a model other artists will naturally gravitate towards as the space matures.

This landscape is in its infancy, a fact that occasionally gets lost due to the incredible pace at which things have moved to this point. These hyperactive cycles ought not obscure the fact that, as a nascent movement, the crypto art scene and its burgeoning artists will need time and space to explore their own creativity, while laying the foundations for their personal and collective efforts as they see fit.

There is at times a tension between the world of crypto and the world of art: the individualism that is sacrosanct in the crypto community isn’t the same inviolable totem to an artist. There must be an understanding and acceptance of necessary ideological adaptation to a very new and rapidly evolving artistic movement. What makes the crypto community tick isn’t guaranteed to offer the same consistent propulsion of the artistic scene; a more patient and zoomed-out approach will provide the fertile ground necessary for crypto artists to flourish and nourish one another.

The focus within the crypto space on individualism and economic independence can only go so far in the art world. Growth and immersion into the art world requires, often, a sort of acquiescence to the flow of the discourse surrounding art and artists themselves. Isolation and individualism, especially within the context of a technology-dependent and essentially interdependent art scene, are the enemies of a viable and lasting movement. None of this is to reject the inherent chaos of the space — the wild kinetic energy that abounds is a tool to be harnessed as opposed to something that needs tamping down.

Individual artists attempting to navigate these murky waters independently are not doomed (or even handicapped, necessarily). They are, however, going to expend vast amounts of time and energy on processes that are, at best, art-adjacent, and at worst, opposed to artistic pursuits by their very nature. The more potent and accessible networks of support for creatives in the space are, the greater freedom artists have to pursue art for its own sake. Additionally, the greater the communication, contact, and collaboration between crypto artists, the stronger the artists (and, it follows, the art) will become. Ultimately, for this scene to thrive and grow as it ought to, the artists themselves will need to be elevated and empowered. This is M○C△’s aim.

This will require a bit of a shift in shared values from the crypto community’s traditional polestars. The hyper-individualistic nature of the crypto movement is occasionally antithetical to the aims of a holistic art community. The individualism of the crypto movement has created the structure and the fuel for the NFT scene; it is now up to the artists themselves to take charge and move the art and the discourse forward. That requires a reorientation of values, a shift away from isolation and reorientation towards mutually-supportive communities.

For all the hype cycles, the fleeting crazes, the headline-grabbing sales, and the general frantic pace of the NFT market, there must be close attention paid to the long-term health of the movement and the art itself. These hyperactive processes are lucrative and bring interest and eyes to the scene — there is no denying that. What they do not promise, however, is a future beyond people’s limited attention spans. The market will do what the market will do. What those who care about the movement ought to ensure is that there exists a place for crypto art that isn’t entirely beholden to the market, to cycles, to the whims and attention of collectors. There needs to be a home for crypto artists and crypto art — places that act as shelter for the artist in the ongoing tempest that is the NFT world.

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Museum of Crypto Art (M○C△) is the premier destination for crypto art and innovative collaborations that ignite our collective imaginations