At the heart of the NFT market and its extraordinary growth in recent years is the question of value. What should determine the price of an NFT, and what actually drives it up or down, are not always the same thing, and are frequently intangible.
The most famous NFT sale was Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days. A collage of 5,000 images, one created daily from May 1st 2007 to January 7th 2021, it sold for the then unprecedented figure of $69.3 million (38525 ETH) in March 2021. It was billed explicitly as a work of art, yet was this record driven by the beauty of the image, the industry of the creator, the fact that it was one of the first to be sold by Christie’s, or the previously unheard of press coverage it received?
Such questions are not novel, either in the world of investment or in fine art. The Tulip Mania of the 1630s saw unimaginable figures spent on plant bulbs. The eventual market bubble was driven by speculation on the colour of the resultant flower, the most coveted being those infected by a mosaic virus that produced vividly striped petals, until the question of whether any plant could merit such sums brought their trade to a grinding halt. Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi currently holds the title of most expensive artwork sold at auction ($497.8 million). One of few works by the famous artist to be introduced anew to the open market in decades, the excitement it generated was due to the fact it was discovered to be, not a copy of an original painting, but the original itself. It is undoubtedly a beautiful image, yet it is undeniable that the piece’s provenance and story has played more than a minor part in this staggering price.
Project Pointless speaks directly to this fundamental question of value, and seeks to do so both playfully and provocatively. On the one hand, our points recognise that an NFT has even less intrinsic worth than a muddy bulb or daubed canvas. Their exclusively digital existence, lines of code on a location-less blockchain, has less tangible utility or merit than these material objects. Further, they tease that, when the price of an NFT is so often determined purely by the market, by perceived demand and limited supply, a single coloured dot is no less unique than a cartoon monkey or an 8-bit portrait.
On the other hand, Project Pointless champions the very value of questioning value itself. Whatever determines the price of an NFT, be it beauty, significance, origin or simply desire, there is no question that, in an online world, digital images and creations must be taken as seriously as material objects that they often depict, rework, and reimagine. What is more, our points assert the beauty of simplicity, the arresting contrast between light and no light, the elegance of the circle and the uniqueness of colour palate. They boldly claim that, if value is in the eye of the beholder, then the opaqueness of value is something to be treasured.
NFTs are pointless. But perhaps that’s a point worth celebrating?