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The Orange Pill

Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted:  January 15, 2021

Artist Description: 

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Bitcoin has never before seemed so sensual. The Orange Pill, by artist Magusz, is a ridiculously sensual and ridiculously suggestive piece of crypto art, a link between Bitcoin as an abstract financial concept and the very real human feelings it engenders, feelings which here are linked directly to other, darker human hungers. Pavlovian dogs salivating as they hear a dinner bell. The sexual appetites that are inevitably implied when we look upon a long, succulent tongue like this one. I’ve often internally felt a kind of implicit connection between intense lust and a desire to consume, and I’d argue that somewhere within the human being’s reptile psyche is some linkage between sexual conquest and the devouring of an outside object. Maybe that’s a bit too Freudian, and maybe it’s a bit too quintessentially masculine a suggestion. But we’re affected so much by our milieu and by our history, and even small phrases common to our culture —”Having someone” in the sexual sense, or “taking someone” in a similar sense. “She was mine,” and so on and so forth— have an outsized effect on how we process those kinds of situations. Of course, this is just my own theory of the thing, but I think just such a theory is tacitly being explored in The Orange Pill, though it’s not the human body or some decadent feast that’s the object of intense, kinda-kinky lust, but the otherwise insipid Bitcoin symbol. Really though, there is no human in this artwork, just a piece of one. And really, there is no Bitcoin in this artwork, just a symbol commonly associated with its much larger concept. In The Orange Pill, we are dealing in a kind of visual metonym, the part suggesting something much more sprawling. 

Despite its comparatively diminutive size, the orange Bitcoin symbol seems the most important object in this piece. Or maybe this is because of its size. The Orange Pill  is so dominated by its human portion —more on that in a moment— that, by comparison, the Bitcoin symbol —the small orange coin hanging in the air in the upper-right quadrant of the piece— stands out because it’s so starkly different. And, for what it’s worth, the Bitcoin symbol is itself referred to by the title. And with a title like The Orange Pill, I assume we’re meant to make allusions to the famous Red Pill/Blue Pill line from The Matrix. Here, Bitcoin itself is what leads the human further into the rabbit hole. This, however is somewhat paradoxical: by ingesting Bitcoin, it leads you further into itself. An interesting thought: A pill that expands when it is consumed. Nevertheless, the physical Bitcoin symbol carries little compositional beauty. It does not glint in any light. It is not intricately carved. It is very benign, actually, and in a piece that proves itself capable of evoking other intense sensations, that feels like a conscious choice. Then, of course, we move towards the other object in the piece, the human mouth and tongue, huge and slightly insidious. Attached to a crag-like white face —though we can’t see any of its defining characteristics— is a gaping mouth rimmed with purple lips. I’m reminded of Maleficent. Only a few teeth are visible within the grat maw, because protruding from it is a titanic magenta tongue literally dripping with saliva. Or…is that…really…saliva? I don’t mean to be overly suggestive, but the image itself is equally suggestive, downright pornographic if you approach it with a certai mindset. You simply can’t show a tongue so huge and wet without conjuring intensely sexual connotations, and all of these connotations exist in a scene where the tongue hasn’t even yet tasted the orange pill of the title. In the background, a bricolage of abstract objects make up a dull yellow and green background, with colors reminiscent of a floating, oceanic garbage heap. 

Now, we could focus on a number of different aspects of this surprisingly rich text, but the one I find most interesting —and most alluring— is the relationship between Bitcoin’s lack of aesthetic detail and the incredible amount of it contained in the human aspect. 

Like any other pill —and especially a drug—, what the Bitcoin symbol lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in underlying power. And what a powerful drug it is. The rabbit hole entered into once one discovers Bitcoin is the place from whence the rest of crypto culture emerged. Bitcoin the granddaddy of them all. Yet the object with the most power in The Orange Pill is displayed as the object least overtly worthy of our attention. 

The yearning, aching, desperate human tongue is so much more instinctually appealing to us, yet it is nothing more than the receiver, itself powerless and awaiting the introduction of Bitcoin’s power into it. The human being depicted here is shown as still somewhat bestial, or perhaps carnal is the best word for it. Yes, let’s get those Biblical allusions going. Bitcoin, meanwhile, is godly in the most hygienic sense, like the heavenly sculptures of The Internet Office: beautiful but offputtingly-perfect, without personality and without any spark of life. The human tongue seems to shiver with desperation as it awaits its comparatively banal savior. I’m reminded, perhaps for obvious reasons, of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. Because The Orange Pill depicts an analogous spark of life between some heavenly, conceptual realm and our nasty, corporeal world. The marriage of the two, in Michelangelo’s mythos, equals human life. The marriage of the two in Magusz’ mythos is something with comparative consequences.

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