Early thoughts on value and cost
The news that a piece of “digital art”, or electronic art, has been sold at auction for USD $69 million was puzzling. Apparently, such art can be copied for free, without any cost at all.
In other words, the $69,000,000 art can be replicated and used effectively without cost. This is not quite the same, or goes beyond, having a paper or other copy of, say, the Mona Lisa. Any copy of the Mona Lisa is probably subtly different from the real one, whereas (according to BBC Today Programme) the copy of the piece of “digital art” will be exactly the same as the original.
It seems that what is auctioned is not the digital art alone but the art plus an electronic key to the original, which allows the owner of that original to access the blockchain for it, blockchain being defined as follows:
“Blockchain is most simply defined as a decentralized, distributed ledger technology that records the provenance of a digital asset“; or
“In the simplest terms, Blockchain can be described as a data structure that holds transactional records and while ensuring security, transparency, and decentralization. You can also think of it as a chain or records stored in the forms of blocks which are controlled by no single authority” [and see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchain].
In other words, what the purchaser has bought for his $69 million US dollars is the right to change the electronic artwork, just as the owner of the Mona Lisa or other material art has the legal right to add a moustache to the subject, or to take up an axe and chop it to pieces.
In fact, thinking about it, presumably the artwork, if copied by a third party for free, can also be changed for free (though not the accepted “original”). That means that the $69 million US dollars is buying only the notional ownership and nothing else.
The auction of of the $69 million artwork challenges our concept of value. To me, buying “digital art” for more than pennies is completely stupid, but I concede, if it is a concession, that paying out 69 million dollars for any artwork is absurd, even if that artwork were the (original) Mona Lisa or, say (a favourite of mine), Man in Armour by Rembrandt (believed by some to be a representation of Christian Rosenkreutz, said to have been modelled by Titus, son of Rembrandt).
We have recently seen Bitcoin jump (and fluctuate) wildly, having reached the height (today, as I write) of over £41,000 (USD $57,000), having been valued initially in pennies. I have written previously about Bitcoin: https://ianrobertmillard.org/2017/12/10/thoughts-about-bitcoin/; https://ianrobertmillard.org/2021/02/20/diary-blog-20-february-2021/.
Bitcoin can be sold back, i.e. cashed in, though its real world use is limited. “Digital art” can be sold on as well, if the owner of the art, i.e. holder of the blockchain key, can find a purchaser (in my opinion, mug) willing to take it on.
In my first blog post about Bitcoin, I examined money. Why do we value tokens of monetary value such as banknotes? It all comes down to confidence.
In the end, does Bitcoin have less “legitimacy” or “value” than paper banknotes, or electronic entries on the ledgers of known banks? Maybe not, but that is perhaps less a validation of Bitcoin than a criticism of what we call “money value”.
Has capitalism reached, with the auction of digital art (and, arguende, with the sale of “real” art for sometimes hundreds of millions), a stage of decadent absurdity which may be a predictor of worldwide economic and social collapse? For me, the crazed heights at auction (of both types of art) are a sign of poor judgment as much as anything.
It does make me wonder what kind of person would rather have a piece of digital art than USD $69 million! Does that make me a Philistine, or just not a mug?
Is there a case for artworks of designated importance, of more than a certain age (100 years plus?), and valued at more than a designated level, being held and owned only by specified museums and galleries around the world? It’s a idea (of my own), anyway, though of course that would not stop speculation in artworks of younger age (and we have seen works by many quite recent artists, including Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, even Damien Hirst, go for huge amounts). Neither, of course, would such regulation stop speculation in digital art, not for decades to come, anyway.
For me, this latest art speculation is a societal warning flag.
The odd logic of tweeter “@MenziesBj” reminds me of the similar thinking of not a few instructing solicitors when I was at the practising Bar. There is a phrase in use among barristers, “solicitors go elsewhere“, reflective of the fact that instructing solicitors often stop instructing particular Counsel for no obvious reason.
You would imagine that, if as a barrister you do well in a case, then the solicitor who instructed you would instruct you again, and if you did not do well, would not instruct you again. In fact, while that sometimes does happen, often the reverse is true. No-one knows why.
Barristers are, especially when not in the very top sets, very dependent on their own relationship with solicitors. I was once slightly acquainted with one barrister, in a friend’s chambers, who had a very good practice despite (my impression) being not particularly intelligent. 90% of his work (25 years ago) came from one solicitor (not even one firm, but one individual solicitor in one firm).
One fine day, as Kafka put it in The Trial, that solicitor stopped instructing him; according to that barrister, for no obvious reason. Result? A serious problem for the barrister, obviously. 90% of work gone means about 90% of income gone.
That (nameless) barrister was one of those men who combine a relentlessly politically-correct attitude with a certain amount of sex-pestery, as my friend in his then chambers had mentioned to me. Many years later, one of his pupils, a young woman, made an official complaint about him. I do not know all the details, but he was fined £4,000, and may have been lucky not to have been dealt with more severely.
A personal nexus between a solicitor and a barrister, though inherently precarious, can work in favour of a barrister. I knew another barrister, though not well, who was a member of another friend’s chambers. The former had a friend from university who had become a salaried lawyer in a large organization. That employed lawyer directed work to the barrister. In one year, such work totalled, in fees, some £600,000! That was nearly 30 years ago!
Not quite as good as winning the lottery (or being born into a fortune), but almost.
I remember seeing that pub in the 1980s, when travelling down the Old Kent Road in Southwark. So now it is apparently a restaurant?Vietnamese, not Chinese, according to the Internet. Sign of the times.
That Forest Hill (South London) street scene from ?1900 looks far better than the same scene today (or when I last saw it, about 35 years ago).
Another place that I used to know. I visited that museum [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horniman_Museum] a number of times in the 1980s. The Horniman was founded by, I think, Annie Horniman, the heiress to a tea fortune. She was a member of the Golden Dawn: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermetic_Order_of_the_Golden_Dawn; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_Horniman, but I see just now that I am mistaken as to its founding…it was her father who actually founded the museum: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_John_Horniman
It may be a Muslim “Scottish” Pakistani who is fronting the new Scottish free speech repression, but I would be prepared to bet that those really behind it are (((something else))).
Jews who go from the UK to Israel to learn how to use weapons and explosives are latent terrorists and must be treated as such.
More official snooping online…
“Heather Burns, policy manager for the digital rights organisation Open Rights Group, said: ‘It’s needles in haystacks, and this is collecting the entire haystack.
‘We should have the right to not have every single click of what we do online hoovered up into a surveillance net on the assumption that there might be criminal activity taking place.’
Privacy International’s advocacy director, Edin Omanovic, echoed a similar sentiment and said: ‘Make no mistake, as warned, the Investigatory Powers Act (2016) gives authorities across the UK some of the most far-reaching and draconian surveillance powers found anywhere in the world.
‘When the Bill was proposed, we were promised the most transparent surveillance regime in the world. Yet, here we have a secret experiment where two secret internet companies have reportedly been collecting internet browsing data about individuals’ online activities.” [Daily Mail]
I missed this latest piece of crazed nonsense, which was being reported upon yesterday, it seems.
“Jenny Jones”, aka “Baroness” Jones [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenny_Jones,_Baroness_Jones_of_Moulsecoomb].
“A Green Party peer has suggested a 6pm curfew should be introduced for men in the wake of Sarah Everard’s disappearance.
Baroness Jones of Moulescoomb told the House of Lords that such a move would “make women a lot safer, and discrimination of all kinds would be lessened”.” [Sky News]
What a total loony, even for the Green Party!
Who is she? “Before entering politics, Jones worked as a financial controller in London. She attended the Institute of Archaeology at University College London as a mature student, studying for an MA in archaeology. She spent approximately 10 years as an archaeologist in the Middle East, studying carbonised plant remains, before embarking on a career in politics.” [Wikipedia].
So she was an office bod for a number of years, became a mature student and then studied carbonized plant remains for a decade…oh, and she was a member of the pathetic London Assembly for 4 years, and failed to become an MP twice (in different London constituencies, coming 4th in both elections, getting 6.5% of the vote in one, then 2.9% in the other). She also tried to become Mayor of London, but only received about 4% of the overall vote.
Not a stellar political record, but hey!…this is the UK, where serial failure is rewarded so long as the idiot is “anti-racist” and/or (stand up, Boris-idiot!) pro-Israel. So she was elevated to the House of Lords!
Sometimes, I think that this country is terminally screwed.
Her previous utterances? Let’s see…”She was outspoken about numerous issues including what she called mayor Boris Johnson‘s demonisation of youth through the use of “baseless” rhetoric on “soaring gang-membership and rising knife-crime”, suggesting the mayor created an unhelpful climate of fear. ” [Wikipedia].
As for her curfew idea…look at her!
Jesus H. Christ! If I saw that walking towards me after dark, I would go home at once, lock and bolt my door, and impose a curfew on myself!
Late tweets seen
A nice-seeming young woman having her dreams crushed by the usual Jew-Zionist “claque” and clique, aided and abetted by their “antifa” idiot-serfs.
British social-national revolution! We know in our hearts what has to happen.
Novichuk would be cheaper.
“Feminazis” is a silly term, but his main point is right.
…and speaking of Cabaret…