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CryptoCube#88

Museum Link: https://app.museumofcryptoart.com/collection/the-permanent-collection?collection=0xdbb163b22e839a26d2a5011841cb4430019020f9&token=99&page=1

Source Link: https://rarible.com/token/0xdbb163b22e839a26d2a5011841cb4430019020f9:99?tab=history

Date Minted: October 27, 2020

Artist Description: Join the punk movement. Exhibit your CryptoCube in 3d platforms.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

In discussing this Cryptocube #88, there’s no way to avoid what it means to own a $52,000 cube and why one would want to do so. Because, we should be clear, this is art as commodity. Owning one of the 256 CryptoCubes is, in and of itself, the point of this art piece, and of this entire collection. When a piece of art’s main intention is simply to be owned, what does this say about art, and, ultimately, does it take away from the piece’s power?

These are heady questions it would take a small book to answer thoughtfully, so we’ll just touch on them here. First though, let’s discuss what a CryptoCube, such as CryptoCube #88, actually is. Shouldn’t take long: A CryptoCube is a metaverse native 3-D art piece designed in a set of 256 by NFT artist Han. All are variations on the same theme, where a TV static filter overlays a an object made out of cubes and 3D rectangles all glommed together, the ultimate outcome —wherein each cube is uniquely colored, sometimes rendering entire segments in rainbow hues, or, as in #88, mostly a series of sunrise colors: yellow, blood orange, the soft red of generic Ibuprofen— appearing like a series of stuck together Lego pieces. Each is structured uniquely, with #88 of the elongated variety, mostly horizontal. All hover in the center of the frame, atop black backgrounds, and rotate constantly, stopping for a moment whilst facing towards the front of the frame, before rotating once more. And that’s a Cryptocube! It’s fun, interesting, and collectible. 

And they’re incredibly expensive to procure.

“Art as commodity” is not a new idea. Think about Ancient Roman sculptors crafting busts of the Emperors, and placing them in the houses of wealthy patrons. It was a great status symbol to own a piece by one of these artists, and the point of the piece was to grant patrons access to the exclusive club of haut ownership. In many modern cases, this commodification of art is not limited to traditional painting, but rather pottery or sculpture, even architecture or figurine or fashion, things that can be produced en masse but are nevertheless sought after for their exclusivity. When initially looking at pieces of Crypto Art, many unimaginatively equate the medium with painting. This makes superficial sense: in both Crypto Art and Painting, an image is contained upon a flat surface, the image then held within that surface’s edges —be it canvas or screen— and any effect of depth or movement is simply a quirk of the artistry. But, really, Crypto Art is more expansive than that. We have to stop thinking of Crypto Art as something which emulates painting, and stop thinking of our screens as two-dimensional surfaces. The Crypto Art movement is building towards the Metaverse, and the Metaverse is no more two-dimensional than the world around you. 

CryptoCube #88 is an object that may one day be placed within MOCA’s virtual museum, to be looked at from all angles and interacted with from all sides just as visitors to the Accademia Gallery gather around the statue of The David. One could see other CryptoCubes as centerpieces of a virtual house, or sitting on a virtual coffee table, conferring massive reputation upon their owner, reflecting either that person’s wealth or their early adoption of metaverse architecture, Crypto Art, etc. Many would argue that Crypto Art in its current form —as something to be seen on a screen— is a bastardization of the ultimate utility of these artworks  that they’ll be most prominent in the metaverse, where they can be displayed within buildings and on walls and in rooms, scaled to the size and specifications of their artists or owners.

We are not meant to look at Cryptocube #88 and feel awe, or inspiration, or spiritual uplift. We are meant to look at Cryptocube #88 with envy. We’re meant to want one for ourselves. We’re meant to see one in a room or a wallet, see the others who own them and want to join their community, just as one might see an AMEX Black Card and want access to those same perks. The piece itself is not the draw here, it is just an invitation to the draw, an invitation to the idea of ownership. Let’s not be naive: Half of art ownership is reputation. Maybe more than half. The other half, mind you, is predominantly investment. Little old-world art changes hands based on its inherent artistic merit, or at least not fully. There are matters of financial appreciation and cultural reverence at hand. People want to own “important” art pieces. It confers on them a status and value and reputation. I will be paraphrasing from either Christie’s or Sotheby’s here (my memory fails), but in auctioning an enormous Jeff Koons sculpture for an incredible sum of money, the Auction House described how owning the piece would immediately legitimize any art collection, making it the envy of collectors everywhere, giving it global significance, and lending the collection an air of history. I believed they used the term “importance.” What an understatement. Now, a situation like that may or may not be nothing more than marketing; that’s not for me to know or judge or decide. But in all artistic spaces, there are certain items that award such legitimacy upon their owners, and by all appearances Cryptocube #88 is one of them. 

We may very well be observing this strange, spinning object in high-class sitting rooms sometime two-decades for now, from within VR Goggles, where we’re attending a Virtual Mingle. I’m not sure what the physics of that space will be, but I imagine this piece will incur the same visitor restrictions as if it really were something by Jeff Koons and if really were displayed in your living room: Don’t get too close, and, ahem, keep your hands where I can see them.