When any ‘ordinary’ individual makes comments about modern art. Perhaps they’ll make fun of Tracey Emin’s unmade bed or fail to see the point of a Skull encrusted in diamonds, then art experts (whatever they are) tend to ignore the criticisms. There are of course many avant garde artists whom the vast majority of the public just don’t see the point of.
However sometimes, the criticism comes from within – when Julian Spalding starts to attack this scene then the rest of us can perhaps feel somewhat justified. This is no outsider, Julian Spalding is a former director of three of the biggest museums and galleries.
Yinka Shonibare’s Nelson’s ship in a bottle
His attack focuses mainly on the amount of money being spent on such art, which he claims ‘ rejoices in being incomprehensible to all but a few insiders.” This work is often funded by the public purse, which the arts council spending billions of lottery money over the years on some very dubious projects.
Did you know for instance that over half a million pounds was spent on Yinka Shonibare’s piece – Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle which was installed in Trafalgar square some years ago. Spalding himself described it as a ‘crassly designed piece……floating on a sea of public funding’. Other criticism was directed at ‘Creed’s ‘flickering light installation or Louw’s oranges both which were funded by the public purse for many thousands of pounds.
He claims that the public purse should not be invested in such art, public money should be invested in art that lasts, not this years expensive fad. He argues that such money should be spent on preserving and displaying art that will still be loved in years to come. It is not the place of the arts council to seek to direct art and pander to the intellectual snobbery among the art establishment.
Money from these sources could be utilized to make art more accessible. The Metropolitan Opera House in New York has used grants to produce screenings of their performances which can be seen worldwide. The BBC could replicate this for theatre productions with similar funding, as such their content although world class is restricted to the UK, you even need a special program called a proxy – explained here, to view their content from anywhere else.
Art is of course, largely inspired by the present. Some of these inspirations are soon forgotten, failed experiments or the results of passing fads and fancies. At the moment we’re not quite sure where this current idea will end up.
The core thought, is that art should have some intrinsic value beyond what a viewer places on it. Put simply that even if you thought a piece of art was completely valueless from an aesthetic point of view, there would still be a value of even more than just the components.
It’s easy to think of the value of something fashioned from rare materials of course.
But what if art could secure its value? What if it contained an intrinsic merit beyond the cost of materials, a worth that was separate from the whims of the consumer and the critique of the elite?
Art with a hidden message
SatushiCrypArt, a company based in the Isle of Man, has set out to achieve just that by producing art out of QR codes; some of the pieces contain hidden messages that can be scanned into a phone, others contain imbedded bitcoin wallets.
It all started, as these things so often do nowadays, with an email. Early in 2014, a group of Manx bitcoin enthusiasts were contacted by an artist who identified himself only via the pseudonym ‘Satushi’. His vision, for an open source, collective art, resonated with the burgeoning cryptocurrency group and plans on how to create and evolve a stable of CrypArtists were quickly drawn up.
By insisting that the protocol was open source, Satushi enabled other enthusiasts to follow suit in the creation of bespoke, finite art designed from the ground up to encourage the owner to take responsibility for generating and protecting their own wallets. Each piece carries with it a hidden treasure, in the case of wallets, literally so.
Open source and anonymous art
Satushi was soon joined by other artists such as Crypsi, another anonymous street artist known for his/her libertarian themed pictures. Little is known about Crypsi other than to say that he/she has gone on record stating that the current global system is flawed and needs to change.
“[We] believe our bespoke art will satisfy customers wanting art with real value in the form of a bitcoin wallet.”
That was then and this is now; several months on and the idea has moved from concept to reality, with art on display and available for purchase directly from their website. The CrypArt foundation itself is typically grass roots; run by local residents Adrian Forbes and Owen Cutajar both of whom feel passionate about what this new form of art has to offer.
“We feel truly honoured to be involved in such a radical new concept in the art world and to help promote and spread the CrypArt ethos,” Forbes told Inside Bitcoins.
“We share Satushi’s dream of spreading QR technology and bitcoin as a global currency and believe our bespoke art will satisfy customers wanting art with real value in the form of a bitcoin wallet.”