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Art in the Age of Crypto Reproduction

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article explores the intersection of art, technology, and culture in the age of crypto art, drawing on the ideas of philosopher Walter Benjamin. It examines how crypto art can restore the "aura" and "cult value" of art, while also having political implications in terms of democratizing art and enabling new forms of community coordination and capital formation.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Aura

1. What is the "aura" of a work of art according to Walter Benjamin, and how does crypto art restore this concept?

  • According to Walter Benjamin, the "aura" of a work of art refers to its "unique presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be."
  • The article explains that crypto art can restore the concept of the aura by tracking the provenance and ownership of digital artworks on a distributed ledger, allowing each digital artwork to be uniquely owned and authenticated.

2. How does digital reproduction further complicate the concept of the aura compared to mechanical reproduction?

  • The article states that digital reproduction makes "the fictions of 'master' and 'copy' are now so entwined with each other that it is impossible to say where one begins and the other ends," further complicating the idea of the aura compared to mechanical reproduction.

[02] Value

1. What are the two distinct axes of cultural value that Benjamin identifies - "cult value" and "exhibition value"?

  • Cult value refers to the original, ritual, and communal value of art, while exhibition value refers to the value of art for its ability to be displayed and viewed in public spaces.
  • The article explains that crypto art has the potential to revive the idea of cult value by creating a sense of belonging and shared identity among its holders, with projects having their own rituals, languages, and shared online spaces.

2. How does the shift from cult value to exhibition value impact the political significance of art according to Benjamin?

  • The article states that as the aura of art deteriorates and exhibition value replaces cult value, Benjamin argues that the meaning of art becomes more grounded in politics. He sees mechanical reproduction as a democratizing force that can politicize art and galvanize action.

[03] Politics

1. How does Benjamin view the relationship between the democratization of art through mechanical reproduction and the rise of socialism?

  • The article notes that Benjamin, a socialist, saw a direct line between photography's ability to democratize art and socialism's promise to democratize politics. He believed the politicization of art could be both liberatory and dangerous, depending on how it was used.

2. What are some ways that crypto art intersects with politics according to the article?

  • The article discusses how crypto can be liberatory in an economic sense by enabling more accessible ownership and financial gains. It also notes the censorship-resistant nature of blockchains, which can protect artistic expression, and the participatory and community-building aspects of crypto that have political implications.
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