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Brian Eno on NFTs: “Now Artists Can Become Little Capitalist Assholes as Well”

"So far nothing has convinced me that there is anything worth making in that arena"

brian eno calls nft sellers little capitalist assholes
Brian Eno, photo by Shamil Tanna
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    Add Brian Eno to your list of stars charmingly unimpressed with NFTs. When asked about today’s hottest economic scam in an interview with The Crypto Syllabus, the legendary musician said he wouldn’t be dabbling in the trend any time soon.

    “I’ve been approached several times to ‘make an NFT.’ So far nothing has convinced me that there is anything worth making in that arena,” Eno said. “‘Worth making’ for me implies bringing something into existence that adds value to the world, not just to a bank account. If I had primarily wanted to make money I would have had a different career as a different kind of person. I probably wouldn’t have chosen to be an artist. NFTs seem to me just a way for artists to get a little piece of the action from global capitalism, our own cute little version of financialisation. How sweet — now artists can become little capitalist assholes as well.”

    In an era when everyone from Snoop Dogg and JAY-Z to Interpol and David Lynch have hopped on the crypto bandwagon (and made anything from thousands to millions of dollars in doing so), Eno’s comments bring some healthy skepticism to the conversation. Elsewhere in the interview, the producer cast off cryptocurrency as another faux solution to systemic problems.

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    “I see a world absolutely awash with loose money and speculation because the various governments of the world, unwilling to make any serious structural changes that would threaten the present status quo, have decided to solve every problem by printing more money to throw at it,” Eno said. “This is presumably why stocks soar when there’s an emergency like COVID — because speculators realise that a new emergency means a new infusion of money, and they know that much of it will end up in their hands.”

    Eno didn’t shy away from the heavy carbon footprint non-fungible tokens create, either. “In a warming world a new technology that uses vast amounts of energy as ‘proof of work’ — that’s to say, simply to establish a certain badge of exclusivity — really is quite insane,” he said. “All that energy is making nothing that we need. I know there’s ‘proof of stake’ but I don’t know if that can actually work unless everybody changes over to it. And even if it did, it doesn’t address the other issues that bother me.”

    Read Eno’s full crypto conversation here. Over the summer, the artist launched his own Sonos radio station and contributed to a compilation album benefiting Palestinian medical aid.

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