BLOCKCHAIN ART: What Is Priceless? by@hackernoon

BLOCKCHAIN ART: What Is Priceless?

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From the moment we come into this world, there are those who try to ascribe value to us. They may say, “That boy over there is so full of potential” or “That girl is worthless.” Indeed, history shows entire communities and ethnicities devalued to such an extent that it has even paved a path towards genocide.

My own father was a refugee, his Jewish parents murdered at the hands of the Nazis in Auschwitz. Right now, the Rohingya people have been displaced by the hundreds of thousands from their homes in Myanmar. While I regard any human life as priceless, it would seem that some people can only relate to their own lives, or to the lives of their friends and families in this way.Much of my work explores how and why we value anything at all, especially when we consider the value of life itself. We say an ancient artifact is priceless too, but surely not as priceless as human life, right? Society has a complicated relationship to that which is priceless.I wanted to explore this further, and found an artistic collaborator in my friend Ai Weiwei, who has brought more attention to the global refugee crisis than anyone else I can think of. He too, is fascinated by the nature of value and identity. We have attempted as an exercise, to make the priceless more relatable to those who find it easier to view everything as a commodity.I have been using blockchain addresses as proxies to distill emotional value for some time now, and with Weiwei we “tokenized” our priceless shared moments together. Some of these moments on the surface might seem banal while others are subtly provocative, but these fleeting moments like :”Sharing Tea” and “Walking In A Carefree Manner Down Schönhauser Allee” or “Talking About The Art Market” are the building blocks of human experience. All moments in life are priceless.Each priceless moment is represented by a unique blockchain address which is “inoculated” by a small amount of a virtual artwork (crypto-token) we created called “PRICELESS” (symbol: PRCLS). Only 2 ERC20 tokens were created for the project, but as they are divisible to 18 decimal places, these works of virtual art could potentially be distributed to billions of people. Furthermore, a very limited series of physical prints were made.One of the two PRICELESS tokens will be unavailable at any price. The remaining token will be divided into 1 million fractions of one token and made available to individual collectors and institutions. These artworks of course may be divided into much smaller artworks as the PRICELESS token is divisible to 18 decimal places. It is not unusual in the art world for large works to be priced higher than similar smaller works so should a larger fraction of PRICELESS have a higher price than a smaller fraction. One of those peculiar ways we value things — Greater size/quantity = Greater value. The question is, if one token is priceless and truly unattainable, then how do we value the other token which is made available?

How and why do we value anything at all?

The Artists

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei is a Chinese contemporary artist involved in art, design, sculpture, architecture, curating, photography, writing, film, and social, political, and cultural criticism. His activities are mainly focused on freedom of expression and ways to support human rights and social justice.

Kevin Abosch

Kevin Abosch is an Irish conceptual artist known for his works in photography, sculpture, installation, film and blockchain-technology. Abosch’s work addresses the nature of identity, value and human currency.

Physical Works

These works feature blockchain wallet-address alphanumerics representing different “priceless moments” shared between the artists. Each wallet is filled with a nominal amount of PRCLS token, validating the wallet and symbolically inoculating the moment. Below are a few examples:


‘Sharing Tea’

‘You have a big nose — YOU have a big nose!’

‘Walking in a carefree manner down Schönhauser Alle’

‘Fuck the activists’

‘I am the cryptocurrency’

‘The size of the holes’

Virtual Works

The PRICELESS token (symbol: PRCLS) is an ERC20 token on the Ethereum Blockchain. Only 2 tokens were created for the project, but as they are divisible to 18 decimal places, these works of virtual art could potentially be distributed to billions of people. View PRCLS on Etherscan here.

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