How did you first hear about NFTs and Tezos?
Twitter spaces launched and I saw them as a kind of hijackable podcast. I didn’t like the limitations of only seeing spaces by the hosts I followed, so I took steps to diversify my options: If you type “https://twitter.com/i/spaces” in the twitter search bar and go on the “latest” tab, you can see every space that gets created globally in real-time. So I started joining church sermons in Nigeria, Spaces on Football, Adult sex spaces… was hilarious. So I kept crashing these random spaces and eventually crashed an NFT space with all these cartoon character people. Eventually I found out that the tinkerers and experimentalists were mostly on Tezos; and so I found my way here.
What would you call your style?
As far as concept goes, I’m into social hacking and performance art. I like the idea of getting things that are external to a piece of art to add value to my work. For example, by creating a story around a piece or a drop — or maybe connecting a piece to something bigger as a derivative. But always – I try to let a piece have its own gravity and magnetism. Aesthetics to me, are just a type of packaging used to deliver a story or a message. I can’t compete with artists on aesthetics, there are simply exceptional visual artists out there in the world. So I spend a lot of time on concept and delivery. I don’t really want to make “pretty things” anyway….I don’t want to make elevator music. Not that there’s anything wrong with elevator music, its very pleasant and relaxing. If you want to be a nice person, elevator music is for you. That isn’t my “style”.
But speaking now of the aesthetic “packaging” – the look is called: Not Glitch. At some point in the 2010’s, XCopy created a brand new aesthetic to shine through the constraints imposed by Tumblr: GIF file format, distinct colour choices, highly textured or painted animations, strobe-like effects with repetition… You put all these things together and you end up with a new genre that has yet to get its own name. Maybe call it “twitch” because the retinal fatigue has people’s eyes twitching? I don’t know. But this new genre should be celebrated and should be given a chance to grow and define itself separately from glitch. As much as I like appropriation haha. Glitch is its own fucking thing and both analog & digital glitch artists all know that.
As someone who enjoys satire and critical humour, have you made any enemies in the space from artists who may have been the subject of your criticism or jokes?
I really haven’t. Artists on Tezos have a great sense of humour and aren’t insecure in their work. I did a piece for twitter where I took jjjjohn’s FXHash Gatorade drop and replaced the objects with a buttplug and rubber chicken… You’d think John would be pissed right? Guy followed me. That’s like the ultimate way to deal with someone like me haha, hats off to him. I also made a piece called “Industrial Alchemy” that looks like one of Des Lucrece’s older pieces being converted directly into money. That didn’t bother Lucrece one bit and he has also been very kind and encouraging to me. So the trend has been that I tell a joke and gain a friend. Now if I could get them both to start making hit pieces on me, that would great – I’ll take free clout any day.
What inspired the idea for creating the piece “Royalty”?
I wanted to create a something that criticized man-made power structures. You have some rats pushing a device called a “wheel of pain” and all they get in exchange for their hard labours is useless candy. The rats are what give the crown its power and make it function…without them, the crown has no power whatsoever. To mirror this idea, I made it so there was no way for me to contractually benefit from sales on the piece after it was made. That meant making sure I had no way of making royalties on future sales and ensuring I had no rights or claim to the image (CC0). That way, any value I received would NOT be based on some man-made power structure. Ie: The smart contract. I then mentioned that I would support any derivatives, and now there are maybe 50 derivatives so far. So people make whatever style of derivative they want and the work itself is meant to exchange hands without me getting “a cut”. So the value of my own piece and the meaning behind it are entirely in the hands of others. I stripped myself of the rights to the image and the Royalties I could receive and got instead a whole communities support. By some miracle, Royalty has become the most well known CC0 piece on Tezos chain, but Marchingsquare and Objkt are the reason Royalty could be made CC0 and so they frankly should be credited for enabling the Tezo’s CC0 movement at the contract level. There are also an amazing number of CC0 projects and works now dedicated to the CC0 movement on Tezos l. Z3r0, 5tr4no, 3dlyfer and ShillyPreston are names that stand out as being heavily focused on CC0. I’m proud to know each of them through Royalty.
Following “Royalty” you created the thought experiment work “Trust”. How did this piece come to be?
Trust is the most valuable commodity we have in what is a lawless and decentralized land of NFTs. I knew I was in a unique position to have gained a lot of trust from the community because of all the free airdrops and gifts I had given to people and in the friendships I had made through Royalty and its derivatives. By minting 10k editions of “Trust”, I knew I could have instantly accepted any and all offers that came in – all 1,111 of them. This ended up working out to nearly 250k USD and the highest offer was about 20k USD at the time – for what was a 1/ 10,000. Notice I haven’t once mentioned the aesthetic look of the piece….an actual mouse trap nonetheless. The artistic value of the piece is tied into the story created around it – the value is externally derived. The story around these works and the contributions of the audience are what bring value to them. With Royalty, the creators of all the derivatives made my work valuable and just recently one edition sold for 1200 xtz. The derivatives are what made that happen. With Trust, the enormous risks taken by the community established a value for the piece and made it rather historic. The value of an NFT is almost always established by either the artist setting a price/ swapping, OR collectors submitting their offers based on what they think a piece is worth. With “Trust”, I wanted to tie the value of the piece to something entirely different, to the amount of risk a collector was willing to take without them ever paying me.
What was the premise behind Botlord?
My buddy Mihai Grecu told me to make a piece called “Botlord” when I first started. I decided I would avoid tweeting a link and instead told everyone to watch for Objkt notifications. The goal was to hopefully get botters to add my wallet to their snipe list while also getting anyone who was interested to follow me on Objkt. I basically was hoping to orchestrate a shit show. I think I succeeded on the confusion front. I pre-released the piece inside a separate drop by an artist called 3dlyfer by leaking it to him the night before. I also gained about 170 Obkjt followers from the stunt. I called one guy who I thought botted the drop “fucker” as a term of endearment and he actually changed his twitter name to Fucker. There was also a bot that submitted a flash- offer of 6,942 Xtz or $21,450 USD. This was a real offer that is on-chain and can be seen in the history tab. Don’t think anyone had seen anything like that done before so it was very entertaining. So “Fucker” and a character named “Hapye de’ Medici” turned out to be the Botlords.
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Xer0x is starting his own cult movement. I have been indoctrinated