NFT Culture Proof

1. a participatory performance on the Blockchain
2. a completely on-chain collaborative text
3. a collective artwork and crypto-native NFT series

NFT Culture Proof returns on June 22 and 23!

On will be two totally free performances of “NFT.NYC Culture Proof” during NFT.NYC: at Refraction Festival in Brooklyn on the eve of June 22, and during our NFT.NYC panel at the Marriott, 9:55AM EST on the 23rd. You’ll need only scan the QR code presented within the Metamask App on your phone to connect your wallet and contribute to our live stream of collaborative texts. Every participant contribution will see openSea-compatible NFTs that immutably commemorate your IRL experiences with the participants around you: crypto-native SVGs with the date, place, and 8 most recent lines from your peers (plus some variant colors and potential rare attributes to boot).

What is NFT Culture Proof?

NFT Culture Proof 1.0 began as a 32-day Blockchain performance, where every participant continuously added to a collaborative stream of live but immutable text, which was permanently placed on-chain. Each day, there were “writing prompts” from artists, thinkers, and writers in the cryptoverse, which both focused and drove the texts we produced. It was the first large-scale Blockchain work of its kind, making the public ledger an active stage for collective creativity. 

Newer versions are short performances tied to specific events, times, and places, enabling performative and participatory NFTs that are both IRL and fully on-chain.

See the original collection

NFT Culture Proof 1.0

Every text-block submitted generates a unique NFT for the participant. These also live completely on-chain, as crypto-native SVGs. They are generated in real-time to include the date, day of participation (out of 32), edition number, and your submitted text (up to 128 characters), as well as the 7 lines that preceded your own. We encouraged communication and collaboration with others!

NFT Culture Proof 1.0 was part of the Refraction Festival and RefractionDAO. Prompt-writers included @RefractionDAO, @nathanielstern, @kildall, @_deafbeef, @sashastiles, @MezBreezeDesign, @simondlr, @p1xelfool, @artnome, @______jpg______, @annespalter, @ReginaHarsanyi, @shumonbasar, @cibellecibelle, @KalenIwamoto, @rheaplex, @kaigani, @gabriellemic, @sterlingcrispin, @kzathe, @TRANSFERgallery (Kelani Nichole and Wade Wallerstein), @thesarahshow, @CaballeroAnaMa, @katecursed, @kildall, @pridesai, @1nterdependence (Mat Dryhurst and Holly Herndon), @isthisanart_, @dhof, @aGENDAdao, @m00sv1, and @songadaymann.

Our project is inspired by On Kawara’s Date Paintings, which attested to his participation in the world on any given day, and various ongoing projects by crypto-writers more generally. It also follows text-based Blockchain projects like LootToken Equals TextArt Blocks, and Untitled Frontier, which respectively facilitated storytelling and collaboration, stored on-chain text for NFT images, generated code-based NFTs on-chain, and moved between collective writing and image-based art. We refer to our NFTs as Cultures: they are your proof of participation, proof of collective performance, proof of ownership, and proof of culture.

With NFTCP 1.0, there were limited available text-blocks for purchase, and with each purchase, a second text-block was given away to previous participants. This ongoing air drop was to encourage intensive, community-oriented, and ongoing dialog. It also means that after anyone participates, they may be randomly selected to contribute again, at no extra cost.

After 32 days, the NFT Culture Proof main performance was considered complete; there was no more on-chain dialog or NFTs produced. But the work continues its life along with the Blockchain. The stories continue on the secondary NFT market, with performance histories, in art collection legacies, and through as-yet-unknown ad-hoc communities and dialogical exchange.

Further details

With its personalized community content, NFT Culture Proof discourages treating an NFT as a monetary investment, and it instead amplifies the potential of shared cultural investments. Its collaborative text and participatory elements, tokenized culture and image generation, collecting and gifting, transactions on- and off- chain, and durational performance, as well as each Culture’s ongoing value – monetary or social, real or perceived – will always be “distributed,” both publicly (via the public ledger) and personally (in the work and text). And here, our audiences wrote love letters to each other and their communities, played storytelling games, competed for cleverness rather than edition numbers. Participants “invest” in NFTs (and the Blockchain) in a way that puts writing, creativity, friendships, and collective partnerships ahead of speculative money-making, since each member gains – and gives away – an ageless but finite, immaterial but materialistic art object that is inherently shared and collaborative. 

Here, the “value” of each NFT is paradoxically defined by both communal and limited ownership, by a durational performance and how it is viewed only after it ends, by speculators thinking they might make money and sincere belief in art, culture, and the potential of productive and collaborative relationships on chain.

NFT Culture Proof uses the Blockchain’s digital transaction and ownership premise to frame and amplify some of its social realities: scarcity versus community, property versus participation, capital versus labor, influence versus access, gains and losses, creativity and criticism. But more importantly, it puts interpersonal relationships center stage. This is the NFT Culture we want to incubate, foster, and grow.

The NFT Culture Proof performance lives across its Smart Contracts’ code, each transaction on the Blockchain, the ledger, texts, and NFTs, the prompts and responses, the originating patrons and their giftees, and most of all, the discussions all of this inaugurates and contributes to. Each Culture (what we call the NFTs) represents and facilitates: sharing in that community and dialog; an historical art object; and the potential to create different kinds of value. Participants do not purchase an external image or text for their portfolio or collection, to help define and represent their social media personalities; they instead contribute to, and solidify a relationship to individuals within, the creative community that made those very things possible. The work as a whole asks us to re-evaluate what it is we value, how we value that, and where those activities fit into our values.

Despite cryptocurrency’s (and by extension, NFTs’) undeniably rampant financial speculation, the Blockchain is also always a social contract. No matter how many computers and ledgers are validating and legitimizing custodianship and possession, enough people have to participate and agree on the value of such transactions (and what is being traded) – monetary and otherwise, on- and off-chain – for it to work. More of us, of different backgrounds and opinions, need to be involved in shaping what values are inherent to the “work” of that work.

NFT Culture Proof launched on November 11, 2021 at 9am PST, and the contract froze at 5pm PST on December 14 (with two “days off” for the US holidays). All our NFTs are ERC-721 compliant and immediately compatible with OpenSea: they are yours to sell, trade, or gift as you see fit. 

NFT Culture Proof is on Polygon (purchased with Matic crypto-currency), a side-chain to the Ethereum Blockchain. Polygon is affordable, proof of stake (low energy and low gas fees), and interoperable with Ethereum (there will be a bridge for re-mapping Culture Proof NFTs there, but gas costs will vary given all the on-chain data storage).

The future: NFT.NYC Culture Proof (and more)

he Blockchain a receipt in the truest sense: it not only affords digital proof of ownership, but a date and time, place (the chain) and context. The future of NFT Culture Proof combines IRL events – real people, places, communities – with performative and participatory NFTs, that record where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing, creatively and collectively, and completely on-chain.

Our first test of this format will be at NFT.NYC and the concurrent Refraction 02 festival in Brooklyn, in June 2022. Here, any connected wallet will be able to contribute text along with other participants, producing up to 6 NFTs for free, in real-time, as part of their experience.

The Artists

NFT Culture Proof is a project by veteran networked performance artists Nathaniel Stern and Scott Kildall, who together brought the world (er, universe?) Wikipedia Art and Tweets in Space.