Art

damien hirst to burn ‘the currency’ as buyers can’t own both NFT & physical artwork

damien hirst to burn 10,000 copies of ‘the currency’

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Collectors of Damien Hirst are not allowed to own both the digital NFT and physical copy of his artwork ‘The Currency’, priced at 2,000 USD each. They can only choose one type among the 10,000 unique paintings. If they chose the NFT copy, the British artist will burn the physical one and vice-versa on a daily basis starting September 2022. Each of the 10,000 NFTs corresponds to the original work on paper manually done by the artist. Hirst and gallery HENI will hold an exhibition this year to burn the 10,000 NFT and physical artworks of ‘The Currency’. Buyers can decide whether they will keep the digital art or the physical copy of his public artwork only until 3PM BST today. The gallery reminds everyone who wants to participate that the whole process is a one-way exchange and to ‘choose wisely.’

The Currency is the first NFT collection of Damien Hirst, presented by HENI. The British artist, who is famed for his formaldehyde sculptures and installation, has mentioned his openness to adopting new technologies, and NFT piqued his interest about four years ago. He decided to put forward the currency as his entrance to digital art, which challenges the concept of value through money and art. Ever a provocative artist, Hirst toys with the idea of ​​daring his audience on the perception of value and how it affects their overall decision. With the time limit being imposed, he tests the boundaries between physical and digital art and how a collector uses their art and currency in modern times.

damien hirst the currency
images courtesy of HENI

NFT vs. physical artwork of The Currency

As HENI says, The Currency is a collection of 10,000 NFTs that correspond to 10,000 unique physical artworks which are stored in a secure vault in the UK. ‘The collection is on the Palm blockchain, which is a new token-powered ecosystem for NFTs connected to Ethereum. It is 99% more energy efficient than proof of work systems such as Ethereum or Bitcoin. It also has low gas costs and fast transaction finality,’ says the gallery. Each of the unique 10,000 hand-painted works is launched as NFTs on the blockchain and is uniquely titled and numbered from 1 to 10,000. A machine-learning system generates and applies the number to a specific artwork whose title comes with some of the artist’s favorite song lyrics. Through this, the collector decides how to use their art and currency. ‘Keep it, trade it, change it, use it, enjoy it,’ as the gallery puts it.

HENI guarantees the rarities of Hirst’s paintings. The machine learning algorithm it uses identifies the features of each work, analyzing and ranking it out of 10,000 from the number of drips and splashes to the texture of the paint. Collectors are able to compare and filter the rarities across the entire repertoire of The Currency. ‘For example, 1.22% of works from the series have profanity in their title, which translates to just 122 works,’ explains the gallery. Another example HENI shares is through the overlaps and density of the dots which, at a first glance, may appear similar. Some spots sit on top of each other while other paintings have space-out particles. Overlaps are scored from 0 to 1, with 1 being the highest value, and a higher score means there are more overlaps.

damien hirst the currency
The Currency by Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst’s most exciting project so far

Hirst started working on the physical artwork in 2016 whose spot paintings have been dubbed a recognizable theme in contemporary art. He has long been fascinated with the concepts of ownership and collecting, and by entering the world of NFT, he continues his curiosity over art’s use of technology and materiality. His artwork explores the boundaries of art and currency: when art changes and becomes a currency, and when currency becomes art. ‘The currency is an artwork, and anyone who buys it will participate in this work, it’s not just about owning it. It is the most exciting project I have ever worked on by far,’ says the artist. Check the live update here.

damien hirst the currency
signature of Damien Hirst

damien hirst the currency
a hologram of the artist

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