Art Value’s ‘numbers as art’ NFT auction – Project lead & Artist, Das Vegas In Conversation

The Art Value initiative, a perennial art project, exploring the concept of ‘numbers as art’, has started selling NFTs (non-fungible tokens) via a unique-concept auction, where the highest bid becomes the content of the token. The artwork’s price becomes the subject matter of the piece, making each work one of a kind.

During a typical NFT auction, once the reserved price for a piece is reached, the auction continues until the highest bidder acquires the asset. However, the artists behind the Art Value project have coined up a slightly different approach; before the auction occurs, technically, there is no artwork to bid on, as it is created after the event itself.

Each unique auction begins with empty Art Value tokens—depicting a question mark (“?”)—being offered for sale. As the proposed auction bids change, with each offer outbidding the previous price, so does the content of the artwork. The auction is won by the highest bidder, whose proposed price gets tokenized, meaning, the exact price of the winning bid will be inscribed in the token.

For instance, if the bidder has won the auction with a 1000 euro bid, s/he will acquire the number 1000 depicting NFT token. Each NFT piece can later be modified in a specifically designed virtual reality platform.

We spoke to Das Vegas, the artist leading the initiative.

Tell us about Art Value. How has it evolved and what has been your role in it.

The project started from holding live auctions in art galleries and art fairs, selling numbers as art. Now it has evolved into a uniquely-engineered auction, where the numbers represent the value of a bid and the final artwork was created only post-event. The price of the final bid, the winning bid, is depicted in physical artwork. So the biggest change, I’d say, is that now auction participants are immersed in the creation of artwork through the process of bidding, co-creating the NFT pieces.

I have been leading the project from the beginning, along with like-minded artists, seeking to introduce the concept “numbers as art” to fellow art enthusiasts.

Through this new project of Art Value, NFT auction launch, how do you see this disrupting the production and consumption value chain of the art world and creating a new model?

The main element in the project is the artwork’s own price. All the artistic and economic principles are determined only by the price. Price, in this case, becomes a crucial factor—like data in interactive arts—for creating something else out of it. Here the price, the major and middle point of the project, shapes the performance as well as the result. We believe that the numbers in Art Value project give meaning to our users and that afterward, they will continue to create more significant works from their number-depicting pieces, thus blurring the lines of the works’ true value and partially becoming creators themselves.

For the benefit of our readers could you please walk us through the steps of the NFT auction to acquiring the final product?

Art Value has pioneered a unique type of auction where generative tokens are created through the auction process.

Each unique auction begins with empty Art Value tokens being offered for sale. During the auction, the proposed bids change the content of the art. The auction is won by the highest bidder; after the auction is finished, the exact price of the winning bid will be depicted in the token. Also, the mechanics of the auction are very important to generating the art piece.

To sum up, if a user wins the auction with a 100-dollar bid, s/he receives the 100 NFT token.

What inspired the team to conceptualize numbers as art?

It started with my conceptual work on numbers and prices as art. This art practice now gets digitized and leverages digitalization, monetization, and the newest technologies. We believe that numbers are very important to our contemporary lives, for instance, various anniversaries, and their significance only continues to grow throughout our lives. We believe in the power of numbers and aim to emphasize their importance through art.

If I could invest a million in art, I would rather acquire an original masterpiece rather than owning a digital number-what is the value proposition of this project to attract both new and established art collectors and artists

The technology NFT’s are based on is the future. There will always be collectors, investors that appreciate traditional art, however, I think the potential NFTs bear is immense, and the current momentum we’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg.

What is unique regarding our work, is that having acquired our digital NFT numbers, users will be able to redesign that simple number with our digital tools (our virtual reality space, the “Art Value Experience”) to create a 3D object; later it can be printed with a 3D printer, so the piece becomes tangible as well. This brings numerical abstraction to the metaverse. We bring new physical experiences from both the abstract and virtual space to the real world.

Some critiques have cautioned that the digital arts NFT market could lead us into a potential bubble. How would you respond to that?

Some NFT projects have no value and they will never have, but some will stay forever. It is the same in the tangible art world, some art gets the recognition it deserves, some, unfortunately, remain on the sidelines.

The Art Value is a crypto art—or metaverse—project rather than only NFT. It examines fundamental issues of cryptography, distributed networks, functions of blockchain technology, digital art, provenance, certification. It is not only an image in NFT format to be sold for collecting or investing purposes only; it raises questions about what is digital art in general, how technology could support artistic expressions, and, eventually, how to disrupt or even hack the established power systems.

What could make this idea gain wider popularity?

Now we are actively working on developing new tools for the Art Value project, which will help our users to engage in creative processes in relation to numbers and NFTs. However, we need to build a strong network of professional artists and start working with them from the curatorial perspective as well as invite them to create artworks through art commissioning. Last but not least, we started building our community of artists and collectors – this may substantially increase the reach and support our idea’s development.

Tell us about your work outside this project and related to this project.

In parallel to developing the Art Value platform, I work with several other art projects. Some of them are more in the field of traditional media, some are digital and interactive; but most of them are grounded in the field of arts and technology.

I show my works in exhibitions, but also participate in academic endeavors like conferences where I present both my art practice and research. In the last solo exhibition “Digit”, I exhibited my 3 latest projects, which were of complex and interdisciplinary nature. During this exhibition, I also showcased Art Value works utilizing many different painting techniques; prices of those artworks were explicitly exposed in the paintings themselves.

Another project of mine is, for example, Metaphone – an interactive art machine producing paintings from participant’s biodata. It is based on advanced technologies, but the results are aquarelle paintings.

Innovation and technology are part of my artistic process, in the Delete by Haiku, an artistic mobile application whereby deleting old SMS text messages the user creates haiku poetry, the digital upcycling happens in the hands of a user.

Would acquiring or creating art in this new format appeal to buyers and artists emotionally and lead to a satisfying experience? What are your thoughts?

I think that working with such innovative principles of creativity, everyone should be excited to witness the novel use of old and new techniques. In the Art Value case, the buyers and artists become an inseparable part of the process, actively participating to create and, hopefully, achieve creative fulfillment. Numbers have strong emotional connections and significance to people, therefore, meanings in numbers are very important in this project, too.


About Art Value project:

Launched in 2009, Art Value is an enduring art project consisting of performances, exhibitions, installations, interventions, artwork production, critical designs, evocative experiences, network building, and interactions. Its latest initiative focuses on selling NFT art via a blockchain-based online marketplace. Led by the artist Das Vegas, Art Value is one of the first crypto art projects in the world, seeking to set new standards regarding art creation and production.

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