When it comes to the world of crypto, renowned artist Tom Sachs doesn’t care about the all-encompassing label that is Web3, including terms like crypto or NFT.
“These words don’t interest me that much,” he said. Decrypt. “I think they are, in many ways, poisoned.”
The sculptor – whose contemporary artworks are featured in museums and galleries around the world – said he was more focused on how space artists take advantage blockchain technology to augment their creative process than industry jargon associations.
“I’m interested in people in this space who are looking to expand their values of things they already care about and who are using this Web3 as another tool,” he said.
NFTs – unique digital tokens that signify ownership of an item, often digital art – are a central part of Sachs’s Rocket Factory, a platform where digital rocket components are bought and sold with the characteristics of common brands such as Coca-Cola and Budweiser.
Last year, Budweiser bought Sachs’ beer-brand rocket for eight Ethereum and temporarily amended his profile picture on Twitter to the artwork. Sachs described the inclusion of the company as part of a commentary on consumerism.
“You can define yourself through the things you consume,” Sachs said in reference to the project. “The 30 brands we chose for the Rocket Factory are the brands that make me who I am – it’s kind of a self-portrait.”
The project allows its participants to assemble these rocket components to create a completed rocket, a whole new piece of digital art. And that completed rocket can then be launched and retrieved as a corresponding sculpture, where the NFT is updated with information about the effort, such as videos and metadata.
Sachs described the use of NFTs by artists as a grassroots movement, where he learned from members of the Web3 community.
“Our friends have been our teachers,” Sachs said. “I learned to navigate this space through people and, in turn, taught others.”
As NFTs have grown in popularity in the art world, many museums have added them to their collections, such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which recently added 22 symbolized digital artworks from the Pseudonymous collector Cozomo de’ Medici.
The LACMA announcement mirrors Sachs’ comments on Web3 terms in some respects as the museum avoided the term NFT when discussing the art, choosing to refer to the NFTs it recently accepted as “blockchain art” or “art in chain”.
Prior to its recent addition, LACMA was already home to other digital art forms, including an NFT from Sachs’s Rocket Factory.
In a interview with Joel Ferree, director of LACMA’s Art + Technology Lab program, Sachs discussed some of the benefits of technology for creating new forms of art.
“What excites me about NFTs is that the rules, the limits, are transparent and concrete across the entire blockchain,” Sachs said. “No one has the information, and you can see the fingerprints of everyone who was there before you.”