The cube that appears in each work of Pak’s NFT collection “The Title.”COURTESY THE ARTIST
Once a meme cycle picks up steam, things get meta: you start seeing iterations that refer to the format itself, instead of using it as a vehicle to joke about something else. In art such reflexivity can pass as high-modern medium-specificity. Or it can be a joke, like when John Baldessari spelled “Everything is purged from this painting but art, no ideas have entered this work” in black acrylic on canvas. In 1996 theorist Lev Manovich sent a provocative missive to Rhizome’s email list (subject line: “The Death of Computer Art”), positing irreconcilable differences between Duchamp-land and Turing-land: an art world that prizes irony and ideas vs. a computer art world that geekily obsesses over the expressive potential of new tech. “Duchamp-land has finally discovered computers and begun to use them with its usual irony and sophistication,” he wrote, speculating that computer art for computer’s sake could recede into obsolescence.
Crypto art moved to Duchamp-land at the speed of a meme cycle, or maybe even faster, racking up jokes about crypto, the art world, and the markets that straddle them.