If you were saving up Ethereum for a set of Discreet Music NFTs, we’ve got bad news. In an interview with Crypto Syllabus (conducted by longtime tech critic Evgeny Morozov, of all people), Eno outed himself as a skeptic of cryptocurrency — and NFTs in particular.
“NFTs seem to me just a way for artists to get a little piece of the action from global capitalism, our own cute little version of financialization,” Eno told Morozov. “How sweet — now artists can become little capitalist assholes as well.”
What’s an NFT?
NFTs allow you to buy and sell ownership of unique digital items and keep track of who owns them using the blockchain. NFT stands for “non-fungible token,” and it can technically contain anything digital, including drawings, animated GIFs, songs, or items in video games. An NFT can either be one of a kind, like a real-life painting, or one copy of many, like trading cards, but the blockchain keeps track of who has ownership of the file.
NFTs have been making headlines lately, some selling for millions of dollars, with high-profile memes like Nyan Cat and the “deal with it” sunglasses being put up for auction. There’s also a lot of discussion about the massive electricity use and environmental impacts of NFTs. If you (understandably) still have questions, you can read through our NFT FAQ.
Best known for his pioneering ambient work and prolific producer credits, Eno seems like the perfect artist for the NFT era. He’s spent decades making art with an eye towards technology and its social implications, often made available as software or limited-edition product drops. Eno was a particularly early proponent of algorithmically generated art, pioneering the same basic process that produced those endless minutely varied monkey portraits for the Bored Ape crew. It would be easy for him to bank a few million pounds by turning this generative iPad app, say, into a string of 10,000 numbered NFTs.
But as he describes it in the interview, taking the NFT turn would be pointless as an artistic move and craven as a financial calculation.
“I am not sure what is being brought into the world that makes any difference to anything other than some strings of numbers moving about in some bank accounts,” Eno continues. “People I like and trust are convinced they’re the best thing since sliced bread, so I wish I could have a more positive view, but right now, I mainly see hustlers looking for suckers.”
Read the whole thing here.