Art What! Arts

Art What!: CryptoZR – The World’s First Cryptoart Solo Exhibition at Beijing’s Guardian Art Center

Private Currency: ZR (2020)
117 x 86.7cm
Ink and colour on silk
Courtesy of CryptoZR

BEIJING – Following CryptoZR’s (Liu Jiaying) participation at the first CryptoArt-dedicated group exhibition at UCCA Lab in Beijing, the artist will have a solo exhibition at Guardian Art Center in Beijing from 29th May to 13th June 2021.

Entitled cookie Cookie, the exhibition is the first solo Blockchain and CryptoArt themed exhibition. Curated by independent curator Li Zhenhua, the exhibition will run concurrently online and offline, and demonstrates how the artist deftly applies, modifies and reevaluates technology. CryptoZR also uses different smart contract methods to build an interactive financial system and digital currency that seek to push the conventions, aesthetics and intrinsic concepts of art, as well as exploring the intersection of technology and human nature.

CryptoZR began using fundamental blockchain technology for artistic transformation in 2016 and has since then continuously developed unique creative languages with this medium. The following year, the artist released a digital currency modified by smart contracts on ETH and EOS public blockchains. In 2019, she used non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to launch voting activities in the OpenSea marketplace and opened a CryptoArt museum, Chijin Art Museum, on a Cryptovoxels blockchain platform in 2020. Themes of cryptocurrency, credit creation, trading, and flow (measuring participation and interaction) form the crux of CryptoZR’s work.

The offline exhibition will be presented in the forms of oil painting, sculpture, animation, and installation, among others. Out of Nothing, comprising images together with an immersive experience, represents her earliest experimentation with Ethereum blockchain technology between late 2017 and early 2018. CryptoZR offered more than half a million blockchain users a digital currency simultaneously by modifying ERC20 tokens, which was then transacted for the first time on a decentralized trading platform, EtherDelta, ten days later. Through Ethereum, the artist wants all users to witness the formation of the consensus – a cognitive consistency between individuals and groups – to examine the much-debated concept of social structures.

CryptoZR’s most renowned work, Red and Blue, is composed of 100 gradient colour blocks from red to blue released by the artist through Ethereum in September 2019. In a year-long bidding process, participants could bid on colour blocks of their choosing. Withholding the meaning behind each block, the artist instead invited the bidders to observe the distribution of the values across the colour gradient for a year until the end of the bidding process in October 2020. Towards the end, GeoffreyX collected red and blue encrypted colour blocks that represent Chinese and American ideologies. The collector commented, “I hope that the advancement of technology and the evolution of art can help societies to become cohesive again.”

Community participation is the foremost intention of her projects, and by oscillating between necessity and imagination across different geo-cultures, research and economic activities, as well as time-constrained transaction management, CryptoZR explores whether these factors can further entice and encourage this engagement. Meanwhile, through the act of collecting, collectors inadvertently “complete” the work together with the artist.

Sound Money is a series of works made in 2020 based on Ethereum blockchain technology. According to the artist, “Every work in the series is related to an auction (transaction). If a work received no bids, the work is therefore not complete”. A work in the series titled Zero Dollar, resembles a U.S. dollar bill, but is in fact an NFT on Ethereum-based blockchain bound to the concept of cryptocurrency. Zero Dollar received nearly 3.6 bids in Ether on a CryptoArt auction platform. This work explores the hidden premium space embedded in the image of the U.S. dollar as provided by cryptocurrency, whilst raising questions about the inherent characteristics of the U.S. dollar symbol and how the value is affixed to its asset benchmark.

TopBidder is an artwork that presents an “auction mechanism” allowing Ethereum users and on-site visitors to virtually interact with the bidding process in real-time. A symbolic work that examines the notion of “auction within an auction”, TopBidder studies the mechanism of production and auction by drawing on the theory of Radical Market1 and using non-permanent cryptographic assets (known as a radical NFT (rNFT)). The work is a radical auction protocol based on Ethereum smart contracts, altering the standard ERC721 token as well as adding an mandatory transfer of ownership mechanism for NFT, whereby any bidder can own an rNFT as long as the bid is at least 10% higher than the previous bid. In essence, rNFT has a natural automatic pricing mechanism that ultimately improves an NFT asset’s liquidity and helps achieve its value independently.

CryptoZR comments: “I think that artists need to be actively involved in current times, and to help develop our era for the future. For me, CryptoArt is not only a new format of art, but also spawns a whole new world. Blockchain is a technique and medium to create art as well as a very crucial ideological support. My works are inspired by events happening on blockchain, which engenders spontaneous meaning rather than deliberately inserting them. I want to create aesthetics for the system, not just for a single work.”

Curator of the exhibition, Li Zhenhua says: “I hope through CryptoZR’s creation and the materialization of her ideas, her works will become a beacon in CryptoArt. cookie Cookie presents an overarching view of the artist’s online work as well as her endeavour to transform them offline, which can be understood in a two-pronged approach: concept (thinking intangibles) to art (concrete tangibles). The former examines how CryptoZR’s art operates and circulates, which has established a community on the internet and since then became an integral part of public knowledge. The offline exhibition will also transform itself, striving to explore the possibility of material and space as an intermediary, extending to all possible forms, materials, and aesthetics, allowing people to meet again in space.”

CryptoZR runs at Beijing’s Guardian Art Center from 29th May to 13th June 2021. Find out more on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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