However, in my mind I also imagined something entirely different. What would it say for a similar work of art to self destruct at a very glacial pace, and the only way to prevent degradation was to pay attention to it? What would it say about the nature of art and wealth if the owner did not notice the piece had destroyed itself until it was too late, presumably because they bought it and left it in storage or on a wall they never looked at? This is what plenty of art will already do over the course of centuries, without maintenance or restoration, so I'm thinking about something more accelerated and deliberate.
And on an extra level, I have started to wonder how such a piece could be represented through programming. The website that rots, pixel by pixel, when it isn't viewed; or the application that subtly corrupts itself over time.
I suppose that's also already true today. Unmaintained software rots; the OS moves on and the software no longer runs. DRMed software has its servers shut down. Online games get shut down. Etc. The most loved software typically has enough interested hackers to keep it alive; releasing bug fixes decades later, defeating DRM, emulating server software to keep old online games alive, etc. But if no one cared about a piece of software, it won't be long before it "rots" and becomes unrunnable in the future.
Somewhat related, your comment reminded me about a piece of online performance art. It was a website with an animation of a dying astronaut, a countdown, and a clickable button. If the button wasn't clicked within a certain amount of time, to reset the countdown, the astronaut would die. Forever. As long as someone, somewhere, on the internet clicked that button, the astronaut would keep on living.
Things were touch and go when the website first went online. Not a lot of visitors meant not a lot of people to click the button and keep him alive. But it went viral, and his life was nearly assured.
I believe in the end a server glitch or something ruined it; the countdown ran out and the astronaut died. And that was it. There was no reset after that. For a brief flicker in time that virtual life burned dimly enough to light up the internet. Now he's merely a buried artifact of internet history.
The transience of the act is what gave it value. If something never dies, if it can never be lost, what value does it hold?
At the end of the film Blade Runner, the "Tears in Rain" speech. I always felt like he was saying he finally found value in his life. Androids, living only for a brief few years, didn't find much value in their lives. But he realized he had seen and done things that nobody else in the world had. And when he dies, those things will be lost forever, like tears in the rain. It seems pointless. But that loss is what gives value to his life. He isn't just another android. He's something priceless.
It would all be completely lost without those people though, so of course it is the act of digital works decomposing naturally. Those of us who enjoy those efforts probably won't ever perceive it that way: those old games and programs and websites we love are still as alive as ever.
One issue: the overlay parts are positioned using onload JS, and do not reposition on resize.
Perhaps this is the statement of the piece, albeit on a shorter timescale. When does a piece of code execute for the last time? When does a piece of art last get appreciated?
That's our society. Or Earth. In either case no one cares.
Oh and by the way, this very same comment space is itself a product, an effect, a derivative work of Banksy’s art.
It’s an interesting idea, however the cynic in me couldn’t help but notice that the domain you link to is for an end of life counseling organization. I wonder if their line of work makes them give this aspect of her work more significance than she would’ve during her lifetime.
Just publish in a slightly obscure file format on physical media, and this is taken care of. Nobody will be able to access your art work in 20-40 years.
A motor connected to a series of reduction gears, with the last part of the chain encased in concrete.
Post this stunt, the artwork will now be valued much higher than what it sold for at this auction. Banksy has been known for such ingenious and clever marketing stunts.
For someone who will create some some street art and literally have the owners remove the wall to sell it..
(Alleged) anti-capitalism and marketing are not mutually exclusive.
Banksy has an eye for publicity, from selling his art for $60 on New York’s streets  to parading a painted packiderm . Whether it’s to sell his art (which it does), sell his name (which it also does) or sell his ideas (which it does, too) is orthogonal to it being clever and effective marketing.
“Like, hey man, if you’re complaining that the system is totally unfair and forces most people powerlessly into a narrow set of compromised choices, why are you making one of those choices?”
When I worked with Tom Morello he used to get it all the time too. It’s a bogus argument. There’s no requirement that one leave the system they are in prior to expressing fundamental doubts about that system.
And even then he puts the vast bulk of that labor in the public sphere from which he, since he necessarily denies making them, owns no IP.
How can this behavior possibly be criticized as exploitive?
I'm impressed by whatever engineering went into the power source for that shredder lasting since 2006 while still being remotely triggerable with perfect timing.
I doubt the frame was from 2006. And even if, the batteries in it could be inserted/changed prior the auction.
I would think the buyer of this piece might be happy with what happened, though. The shreds still are there, and likely are worth more than the original piece of paper.
It probably used that power source.
If there is real scarcity because of climate change or other widespread disaster, how much can a piece of this ‘quality’ be sold for? A loaf of bread, or less?
That millions of children still starve but a piece of simplistic art is worth more than the value of food a whole village consumes in a decade is a sorry effect of the financial system we use or the way our society assigns ‘coolness’ score to people and activity.
Art was never about difficulty of reproduction. Once an artwork has been done any hack with 2-3 years of art school can create a great imitation, and with some more talent, even do a Rembrandt or whatever. There are entire cities in China who live by making copies of famous oil paintings.
>That millions of children still starve but a piece of simplistic art is worth more than the value of food a whole village consumes in a decade is a sorry effect of the financial system we use or the way our society assigns ‘coolness’ score to people and activity.
It's the same when a company buys some BS social app like Instagram (mainly an avenue for vanity and time-wasting) for several billion, which could just be used to save millions of lives.
Society was never about goodness or helping the most (and especially not for helping people elsewhere).
While it's true that a skilled forger can effectively copy an old master painting, it's a pretty rare skill to have at a really high level. "Painting factory" copies from China are kitsch and definitely lack nuances that matter in the original.
But the skill of making a facsimile (a copper engraving of a painting for an edition of prints, for example) is something that used to be respected, though, to be fair, respect was pretty in proportion to how much interpretation/discretion the copier needed to bring into play. Converting colour oil painting -> black & white fine engraving is not a mechanical process, whereas turning cruder drawings into woodcuts apparently was considered merely a technical job.
What I'm getting at is the idea that the processes of reproduction are a part of the way art is made and circulated. They aren't something external that comes after the end of the creative act in a way the artist can't control. It's only in a world of immaterial digital media that it feels like art is replicated trivially and endlessly. Uniqueness seemed important when reproduction was costly (and art materials were expensive) and a lot of artworld practices, like editioning, are based on the assumption that the authentic work can't actually be copied, except by the artist. So I don't really agree with your claim.
Not that rare. It also depends on the artist. More artists that are not pre-19th century masters are fairly easy to replicate, while their work still sells for millions.
>"Painting factory" copies from China are kitsch and definitely lack nuances that matter in the original.
That's just because of the speed involved. If they took their time on a single work, the quality would be much higher. And kitch is an aesthetic term, doesn't refer to the quality of the reproduction as such (a reproduction is kitch by definition, even if perfect).
>What I'm getting at is the idea that the processes of reproduction are a part of the way art is made and circulated.
That's true. That doesn't mean that a perfect replica by a master copier would ever get the same price as a coveted original.
Master art forgers represent an existential threat to art "connoisseurs", it's like what they do is an exploit aimed precisely at fooling a connoisseur's judgement. For obvious reasons they rarely try to pass off new concepts or compositions, just the superficial styles of painting etc. It's like they have a style-transfer filter but no working model of the source artist's thought processes.
Pastiche (which does often attempt to synthesize whole new works) is usually identifiable and not intended to deceive, but AGI will probably eventually blur that distinction as more and more of the characteristics of an artist's work can be captured in some kind of model.
It's not necessarily true that a derivative work is always worth less than the original, particularly if you include something like appropriation art. Elaine Sturtevant was an interesting example of imitations being taken very seriously:
'In 1964, by memorization only, she began to manually reproduce paintings and objects created by her contemporaries with results that can immediately be identified with an original, at a point that turned the concept of originality on its head. She initially focused on works by such American artists as Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol. Warhol gave Sturtevant one of his silkscreens so she could produce her own versions of his Flowers paintings, and when asked about his technique, once said, "I don't know. Ask Elaine."' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elaine_Sturtevant
The work of making a superb pastiche is very highly respected in the art world. See this fictitious 1930s-style animation from a few years ago:
This topic is really fascinating but OTOH the art world is a horrible phenomenon on a social level. It's not a place where deep thinking happens, at least not in public.
First, if it's just from climate change, it will be gradual increase in scarcity and all kinds of methods of growing food become viable as the price of bread increases. So unless climate change actually makes Banksy undesirable, it will still be worth more loaves of bread than one person could eat in a lifetime.
Second, if it's an acute wide-spread disaster, the only thing that becomes relevant is food/water/shelter /weapons/first-aid. Not only would a Banksy be worthless, but so would the world's biggest diamond as well as the cure for cancer.
So it's a meaningless comparison just based on the fact that you don't like rich people out-bidding each other over art (and subsequently supporting artists).
Once you start down the road of being dictator of spending on expensive things that aren't solving starvation, all kinds of things like space exploration, the development of the internet, etc all become "sorry effects". Guess how many villages could be fed on the budget of the Apollo program.
> Once you start down the road of being dictotoe of spending on expensive things that aren't solving starvation, all kinds of things like space exploration, the development of the internet, etc all become "sorry effects". Guess how many villages could be fed on the budget of the Apollo program.
I do not advocate dictating spending but propose designing a better incentive system for rich people to spend money on useful things. See my reply to another comment down below.
What are ‘useful’ things?
Your examples here have good probabilities of turning into ‘utility’ for the masses. Cure of cancer (obvious), Apollo program (many scientific advances), ...
Bidding up prestige and coolness is a zero sum game and only increases a small bit of satisfaction of a few rich people.
It is about valuing the needs of the rich and the masses more equitably.
If that transfer didn't happen, then both bank balances would remain at £100m. Nothing is lost or gained, it's irrelevant (Although in Banksy's case the original first sale often involves a transfer of wealth from Adam and Bernice to a random person)
There's nothing inherently good or bad about rich people playing money games with each others assets, it's not the same as Adam paying £10m to destroy a town and gain £20m in profit from exploiting the resources, or indeed divert tens of thousands of high-skilled effort per month into something like the Apollo program.
There's an argument that auction houses aren't paying their way for the services they use (especially in expensive areas), and other functions occupying that space could be better for society. A land value tax would solve that. I'm not aware that auction houses rely on other things like copyright or patents that can stifle economic activity.
> Once you start down the road of being dictator
> of spending on expensive things that aren't solving
> starvation, all kinds of things like space exploration,
> the development of the internet, etc all become "sorry
> effects". Guess how many villages could be fed on
> the budget of the Apollo program.
I think the point was that you can apply that logic to anything... However if you really wana talk about spending on space programs vs spending directy on starving people, consider where we would be technologically, scientifically etc as a society if we always chose to spend money on the needs of others (of which there is an endless supply) directly rather than invest it in lofty ideas - It's pure speculation, but I image the difference would be direct spending would only ever briefly solve short term problems, but ultimately civilisation as a whole would be in a worse place.
In other words, we can take knowledge with us into the future, not food. and in this context, banksy is politically charged knowledge striving for change - which is bought and sold by rich people for better or worse.
NASA Associate director Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger elaborates on this topic.
Unless they store most of it in a bank somewhere and don’t use it, it has effects on the real economy.
My point was, the economy is not a zero-sum game.
Like any force carrier, they are fungible, and they are constantly being created and annihilated. Banks emit and absorb them strongly, other organizations less so.
I believe OP is putting the lessons in that film into action in his life, and those actions are present in the thoughts expressed in his words, and happily not the other way around like the people in and outside the art world giving lip service to Banksy.
As art is exempted of taxes in most parts of the world, this is an obvious vehicle for tax evasion, money laundering, speculation and financial crime. That's why so many things that the common man would deem "bad jokes" are supposed to be "art": because it's financially useful for the rich and the powerful. It's (mostly) a sham, not to say a swindle.
People are free to do how they like with their money, but outrageously some spend it frivolously in cheaply-made art for status or tax evasion purposes.
Bill Gates late-life philanthropy raises a counterpoint to this, in my view. The wealthy don't owe anything to anyone, but that's how a person starves to death waiting for a little mercy. Mr. Gates now invests in saving people, not in art, and that's a worthier status giver.
From a moral point of view, they should be charitable since they have so much that giving away a little bit of their fortune would have a tremendous impact on a significant amount of people while themselves being none the worse for it.
As for the prices, people can allocate a lot of money to a token, as long as other people still believe in it. Cryptocurrencies take this abstraction to the max. Art is more traditional than cryptos.
I am personally very cynical that there is even a shred of value to high-market art sales. It's all a game for the upper-rich. But your "children are starving" comment is off. People have different motives to spend money, a starving kid's has a motive and so does a rich person's who wants to be the buyer of a piece. Both are respectable, human needs, but we are much more likely to relate to the kid. This doesnt mean its somehow bad to have the other.
Not really. The level of wealth required to reasonably make a purchase like this is what? 20 million? That's not 'stratospheric'. It's richer than I am, to be sure. But it's only between 2 orders of magnitude richer than your average software engineer's annual salary. I think that's a pretty reasonable level of wealth inequality, and not really indicative of much at all.
> If there is real scarcity because of climate change or other widespread disaster, how much can a piece of this ‘quality’ be sold for? A loaf of bread, or less?
Your point here proves the exact opposite of what you think it does. The fact that people can invest vast resources in things that aren't immediately useful for survival is an incredible testament to the stability and productivity of our economy. Because you're right, if people thought there was any significant chance of things going mad max, they certainly wouldn't be investing in art.
> That millions of children still starve but a piece of simplistic art is worth more than the value of food a whole village consumes in a decade is a sorry effect of the financial system we use or the way our society assigns ‘coolness’ score to people and activity.
Is it? Or do prices simply reflect our personal valuations of things? Which is to say, every decision each of us makes of what to do with our individual time and money sets a price. When you wrote this comment, you chose to invest your free moments in it, rather than earning money to donate to the poor. Is that a sad commentary on the state of the world? Or is it just the natural consequence of people being allowed to allocate their own resources?
Would the rest of us be better off if we simply deleted the money of the rich?
Imagine two people both making $100k/year. One saves/invests half their income, the other saves 0%. In 20 years, one has a million dollars of savings, the other has less than a thousand: three orders of magnitude of wealth inequality. The saver, by exercising restraint and not consuming everything he produces, has contributed more to the economy by allowing the fruits of his labours to be invested, increasing future productivity. If we penalise the saver and favour the wastrel, we incentivise and get less savings and investment, hence in the long term less growth and lower standards of living for everyone.
That's also a form of violence.
I'm not saying that the saver should be penalized and the wastrel favored, you're reading way too much into this.
What I am saying is that high wealth inequality is a sign of decay in a society and it's in the best interest of everyone to ease it.
It's not about morality at all; if the universe is deterministic, all behaviour was caused by the big bang, and if it's random, than all behaviour can be traced back to chance. Even in this case that all action is predetermined and nobody is at all responsible for their life (hence the concept of morality makes no sense), in terms of system design it still holds that a system that encourages economically beneficial behaviours (saving/investment) will result in better economic outcomes than a system that penalises them.
The key thing to understand about economics is it tries not to assume any morality. There is no absolute "moral good" (which is trivially provable by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regress_argument), value only exists in the minds of people. And the clearest revelation of what people value is what people are willing to spend their time, money and the fruit of their labours on.
If you're an American, then the society you live in has a constitution it's agreed to follow that stipulates people have private property, and the state doesn't have the right to arbitrarily seize it.
That aside, regardless of what society you live in, the last century demonstrated pretty clearly that taking rich people's stuff and banishing/killing/imprisoning them ends up making everyone in the society poorer, see for instance the communist revolutions in Russia and China. Because you destroy the incentive to invest, and to take the risks of starting a business. You also take money from the people who've demonstrated the best ability to invest it, and give it to people who've demonstrated minimal ability to invest or create value, resulting in a massive reduction in productive investment being made.
Is that so? I'm not so sure. How can we know that the spender didn't contribute more to the economy by spending 50k/year more on goods and services?
More empirically, the fact that people are willing to pay the saver interest for his saving/investment demonstrates that it must be creating some value. That interest is essentially payment to the saver for refraining from consumption.
Maybe but if you think about it it's an exchange of a bit of paper with some marks on which could easily be reproduced for some 0s and 1s representing a bank balance which could be reproduced or qualitatively eased and the like too. The transaction has no direct effect on the amount of food produced or how much get to children. The worst famines in recent history have been caused by people in ok fed countries saying look at this financial system, it's wack, lets smash it, and then finding millions get hungry and possibly dead, see Russia, China and Venezuela.
Sorry, but if you think this is a modern, western, or somehow unique situation in human history you’re lacking a lot of context. This is just how humans work.
A good percentage of people appreciate art, a small percentage of people like flaunting their wealth, and between these two groups societies have elevated artists and art since we stopped roaming the plains and start building cities.
When the going was good his company hired hundreds of people. All of them slaving away making and 'retailing' his art. This was good for the local economy as lots of younger people with no local workplace opportunities were given a chance to earn a crust.
Although Damien Hirst never was the 'housewife's favourite' in the way that Banksy is, essentially it was the same game, 'art business' which is not to be confused with 'art'. 'Art business' is very much about making money, not making 'art'.
With Banksy there are a lot of hangers on that try their hardest to monetize official Banksy creations. Although Banksy's style is original it is also an easy style to fake. Banksy by being anonymous keeps some safe artistic distance from this ugly art business aspect.
More generally though it is funny how there is no money in the wider art business right now. It is a business that has gone the same way as antique collecting, there is no greater fool to sell on to.
- Salvator Mundi sold last year for $430 million.
I imagine the art business will go on a while. Even if Hirst is having a down turn.
Help solve those issues first if you must, and don't worry about paintings.
I think the obvious & unsubtle reading above makes a ton of sense. It is a critique of the modern art business for sure.
But also it seems likely that the auction company was in on this so I sort of read it as a statement that you cant separate the business of art from the making of art.
But you didn’t.
If we make it much more prestigious and ‘cool’ for people to show off their equivalent donations to starving children, fewer will bid for the drawings and more will donate.
You mean the current financial system where concentrated wealth yields concentrated power to effect change?
And almost everyone is born into a situation where their wealth & power is insignificant compared to the rare individual who has been the beneficiary of the feature where rapidly or not there is a net flow concentrating resources disproportionately toward those already wealthy & powerful?
Nominally, the traditional result is that the few having most concentrated wealth are the ones capable of effecting the changes they desire, with most everyone else serving these masters in one way or another. With the servant class being highly restricted in their ability to develop personal wealth of their own, much less direct major resources toward independently progressive positive objectives.
I must assume that the current financial system is the same one as that of Genghis Khan.
So naturally there is a long precedent.
Anyway, back on topic not every single artist or engineer serves this type of master, just most of them.
Some create value or enhance wealth, some devalue or destroy, what else is new?
>We could invest in lofty ideas to alleviate starving...
This wise investment was fortunately made starting at just the most opportune time in human history, and has compounded itself remarkably in only a few generations. Many approaches are now well known, only requiring a properly-scalable "seed" committment for their relative degrees of success to be proven on the larger scale.
I guess we need to invest in lofty equitable distribution of resources, especially essential survival commodities.
Creating or spreading surplus value can require a lot of work, but those at the top of the food chain don't really have to do it if they don't feel like it since wealth is flowing their way already.
Plus there is just so much wealth & plenty already which is not having a fraction of the positive effect it could be making.
I can see the argument that the amounts spent on works of art are excessive, but it seems like we should at least keep in mind that this does benefit society by supporting the creation of great art.
also, how would a stateless society even have the concept of legality?
Stateless society can still have justice, courts, rules, police... It's just driven by someone else.
Ad communism: That's not true. Have you read anything from the communist theory? Marx, at least? I mean, more than a part of one book?
Communism is a change in ownership and control, but that doesn't mean that a police-like body wouldn't exist (it might not, though). They just call it "people's militia". The court system would be different, but a court nonetheless. A corporation can have police and courts and it's still a corporation. Military, the same. Even today these are deliberately kept as separate as possible from the governing body (what we usually mean with "state").
Thus I think you have mixed up the definition of "state" in "stateless".
and it sounds like you're really describing the 20th century model of essentially replacing boards of directors with government officials and calling that communism. and that's the most basic and universal criticism of 20th century communism that marxists have today, which is that that model preserved the internal logic of capitalism by preserving the structures which concentrated (capital) power within a handful of people in the same way that capitalism does, or something like that. and if you're being faithful to marx, none of those are communist societies, it's more like stage zero socialism.
i'm not trying to start a flame war, i was just confused about what you were saying, but i think i understand now.
This is my point, actually. There is no one who would forbid a group of people to appoint a few members of their community to be "police"; there is no one who would forbid a group of people to create a court. And there is nothing saying that would make it a state. Communism is about self-governed societies, not anarchy in the destructive "I can do whatever because there is no police" sense.
Even actual anarchy wouldn't be like that because if you hurt enough people, they will hurt you, and that's why you don't even do it. Later in development, they'd pay someone in advance to hurt you if you hurt them. The same thing would happen in communism, just there wouldn't be money changing hands and the organizational specifics would be different.
Saying that any form of leadership would make a stateless society not stateless is nonsense. My family is not a state and yet we have a leader. My apartment building is not a state and yet we have a leader. Etc. There will always be a leader (or a group of leaders), the difference lies in who owns what and how are the leaders appointed (e.g. on basis of what) and what rights they have. Without any leaders, the society would collapse.
It happens at 0:37
I would like to know the details on how he pulled it off, I refuse to believe the auction house was unaware of the stunt.
The architect of Berlin Main Station (Norman Foster, if I'm not mistaken) used this law to (successfully) sue Deutsche Bahn (the German national railway company) for reparations when they changed the plans and used a cheaper ceiling construction than he designed.
Then I realized there must have been a big ass slot in the bottom of the frame, something no art inspector would miss. If the auction house had known about it and then it really could have been done any number of ways.
It's hard to be absolutely certain given the limited photographic evidence, but I think in light of those concerns it's the most likely option.
The way the it was shredded and stopping halfway allows the piece to still be hung, and in my mind, this massively increases the notoriety and value of the piece.
To prank Sotheby’s like this at the moment that the auctioneers gavel falls, is truly epic. Truly a great and well executed piece of performance art. I want video!
It's a 2006 copy of a 2002 mural. There is no mention of where the copy originated from though, nor any indication that the frame was part of the 2006 piece.
Sotheby's posts lot details on their site for all auctions. The provenance on this one is quite direct. Banksy -> "Current Owner" -> Whoever won the auction
Banksy himself made the frame.
However, rumor that I've seen among the art world is that Banksy was the "Current Owner" as well as the bidder. The piece sold for the exact same amount (to the pound) as his previous record Sotheby's auction. People are also not buying that Sotheby's wasn't in on it - wooden frames like this have to be verified to be free of pests like termites, etc., which the lot details report was done. It seems unlikely that in verifying the frame to be pest free they would have missed a motorized shredder in it. Especially since the shredded pieces had to go out somewhere...
>Sotheby's — which had noted before the sale that the work's ornate gilded frame was "an integral element of the artwork chosen by Banksy himself" — expressed surprise at the incident.
Original entry on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bokt2sEhlsu/
The portion of the artwork with the head at top seems disjointed from the rest of the shredded portion (the original picture has normal human proportions).
So, it seems at least, that there may be two works of art.
One which remains unshredded and one which was already shredded (and was released by some mech). Whatever powered the light, likely powered the release mechanism for the shredded and unshredded works of art.
If so, still remains an impressive stunt.
I find it curious, though, that the piece was made with such a significant lower margin hidden by the frame. It certainly suggests it was created for this stunt.
Or, I guess, Banksy could have offered the owner the frame prior to the auction, without the owner being aware of what it did.
That's very unlikely as it would take special care to mount the print in such a way that I would fall downward.
Typically framed works are held in place.
This has been planned for some time it seems.
Banksy's work is rooted in street art, which is historically priced at zero or less and/or priceless, i.e. usually not removed from source (exterior walls of public infrastructure) and viewed as expense by local govt (cost to clean off) but may simultaneously be loved by residents in the community it's located in. It's also subject to unexpected change or erasure (destroyed or painted over by municipal govt or other grafitti artists). So, it's not surprising that it took longer for Banksy's work to reach $M price levels.
In contrast, Koons' work is commercial to the core and on a grand scale (per physical size, amount and cost of materials, etc). The upper bounds of pricing on his work is open to debate but the lower limit was always meant to be significantly above zero.
Well, now you have to add in a "risk factor" that the work you buy doesn't survive intact. Which could go either way -- non-shredded Banksy original vs. Banksy shredded original print.
> Jeff Koons
This shows the hypocrisy. Unfortunately it will not change anything. The piece has just become more valuable, I predict.
Go Banksy. Art for the masses.
- Destroy the original completely. This would be difficult as even ashes from burning could be resold and exhibited. I’m also not sure destruction captures the right point.
- Reverse the shredder idea to instead have a photocopier in the frame. Have the copier spit out “originals” on demand and reveal that there is no actual original piece.
- Have money literally effect the art (or have the money become the art). Like fill the air gap in the frame with dollar bills upon purchase or something super in your face like that.
- Reveal new information about the piece or about the artist that makes owning the piece horribly distasteful.
- Physically print a giant photo of the new owner’s face over the art when the auction completes.
- Have the artwork be a complete pain to exhibit or care for. Maybe it comes with a button that has to be pressed every 108 minutes or else the price gets shredded (sadly this would almost certainly result in some guy getting paid almost nothing to sit about and press the button for years)
Banksy is always a bit too smirky for me, however I can’t complain too much as this armchair is really quite comfortable.
Create your art in digital form only. Release it on DeviantArt or on some similar website under CC0. Then say that you would sell "first author's printout" of it or something.
As soon as somebody buys it on an auction, you go on the scene with old laptop and cheap printer. You demonstratively go to DuckDuckGo, search for your artwork, open worst quality result from the first page, select "Print..." in Firefox's menu, select worst quality (saying loudly that you want to conserve ink) and press "Start".
You and a few of your rich buddies buy up as much artwork as you can from a famous but not too famous dead artist. Say, 10 pieces at a million a piece. I sell my friend one of them for 1.5 million and another for 1.7. I buy his for 2 and 3 million. Repeat a few times, and now you've established a pattern that this artist's work is becoming more valuable. After several years, you all sell your paintings for 5-10 million a piece.
Or to just flip, without ever putting it on display. On industrial scale.
Artists rebelling against commodification of their art pieces in the past saw their own anti-commodification art works turned into commodities, thus nullifying their message.
The message that comes through becomes the ideas that you have expressed.
Modern artists like Banksy or Damien Hirst, or anyone who has read Naomi Klein's "No Logo", are knowledgeable of this.
And something to launder money with.
It isn't just "big money" saying this - ask any cool (poor) artists or curators if they like Banksy and you'll be laughed out of the room. He's the Nickelback of contemporary art. It's not because of his message - lots of other artists make biting, hilarious attacks on global capitalism and consumer culture, if that's what you're into.
Also, as others in this thread have pointed out, practices like this shredding don't actually devalue the piece, and may in fact increase it's value. The shredding is an empty gesture signifying the rejection of a culture that the piece is very much a part of. If a piece is just an investment vehicle, what effect does humiliating the owner of the piece have on the piece's function as an investment vehicle, if it does not lower the value? They (allegedly) own the art only for it's value, so how does this strike back at them?
If you want to look getting money out of art, you might start by looking at the early performance art tradition and what it achieved in terms of decommodification. Pay special attention to the amount of lying and inconsistent storytelling. Ask yourself whether "Exit Through The Gift Shop" (grossed 3MM in USA box office and set Banksy on the track to these $1mm sales) achieves any of the same decommodification.
I am an artist myself. I don't see Banksy as being an anti-capitalist or anti-consumer culture artist. I see that aspect of his performance as a persona, exactly like Mr. Brainwash is, and that he uses that persona as background for his real art, which are the stunts he pulls off to delight wealthy patrons.
I also don't believe he is trying (ineffectively) to rebel against the commodification of art; he's knowledgeable and complicit in it, much like Damien Hirst.
A case for my argument is that he (deliberately) delighted the art auction audience with his stunt (as opposed to insulted); the art work was only half-shredded, allowing it to still be hung; knowing action houses, they had thoroughly inspected the art work before putting it up for auctioning, and were complicit with Banksy's stunt, and this much is evident in their good-natured choice of words for the press; the art work's value has only increased, as has his reputation as a (complicit and well-wishing) prankster.
In short, Banksy has taken the post-modernist concept of an artist with a persona that superficially and ineffectively rebels against capitalism while the real artist is actively, knowingly and profitably complicit with capitalism... Banksy has taken it to a sublime level, and that's why we in the art world who are in on the joke (and know who is really being laughed at: the public who believe in his flimsy anti-capitalist persona) love him as one of us.
Whichever, or even if he is an evil capitalist villain, complete with white cat, laughing at our expense, I still like his messages and style.
It's a super clever two-stage prank. At auction the picture is supposed to shred but it stops half way. Did it break? Was that the intention? Who knows! That's the mystery behind it. Now it's more than just a simple painting, it's a performance piece and worth significantly more! The half shredded portrait is hung up somewhere and weeks or months from now the shredder comes back to life for the finale of complete destruction. "Going... Going... Gone" became "Going up up and away!" Ha! Take that Banksy! Then full circle back to gone, Banksy has the last laugh. Bonus points if it does this in the middle of the night and the owner is greeted by a pile of shreds on the floor the following morning.
Second and more boring possibility: the shredder was supposed to fully destroy the picture at auction but unfortunately failed. I believe Banksy intended the piece to fully self destruct in full view of the auction house as a big "fuck you" to art hoarding and monetizing.
Funny how Banksy, who was anti commercial things before as a street artist, now is obviously very torn being selling out and not. He is still selling out with this sale, but couldn't stop himself from trolling the buyer.
I feel like I'd feel in a similar way - hard not to sell when so much money is in play.
If the buyer wasn't aware of this prior to buying it then technically Banksy ruined the buyers art, or the buy can back out because he's not getting what he paid for.
Of course early believers were going to criticize him as a sell out, but Banksy's message and its embedded criticism of modern capitalism become even more powerful when monetized.
His art mocks and attacks the principles of a materialistic modern society, but strangely this makes it more attractive and valuable to that same society; this can only be described as an absurd and paradoxical logic. An example of their stupidity. The final irony.
Of course, it's not in Banksy's interest to reveal the trick immediately. Let the publicity build.
It's an interesting poem, and one that probably was read far more because it was published the way it did than if it had been published the normal way. While I enjoyed poetry, it is the first and only time I've rushed to read a newly published lyrical work.
It's beautifully constructed in that it is about the distinction between memory and reproduction, and where the poem represents a reproduction of Gibsons own memories, the self-destruction served to make the book itself an event and creation of memories about the reproduction of the poem even in many cases in people who never got around to reading it, but just read about it.
It's also interesting because one of Gibsons own comments about it is about how we tend to remember the past in light of the present, not the way it actually was, and thinking about how I remember the work, I realise I have memories of text fading, but 1) my memories don't match how it was presented, 2) I never saw the original anyway.
I have distinct images of reading it in light blue on darker blue, but I would have read it on my Amiga. Those are not the Workbench colours, and the offline readers I used did not use that colour scheme - it's more likely that I'm confusing it with reading texts shared on floppy on my C64, years before. So our memories of Agrippa are themselves now an example of the theme of the poem itself.
Ironically, it is a cooperative project with Dennis Ashbaugh who designed the book as an art piece, and came up with the concept of the self-destruction, but whose part of the work has remained the lesser known part of the "package" despite (or because) not being the part to self-destruct.
Who else would set up a pop up shop outside the MET museum in NYC and sell original pieces and then report that they've sold only 6?
"The street prank gave Gothamist graffiti guru Jake Dobkin lots to mull over:
Who's the joke about here, though? Is it that Banksy's work kind of sucks, from an empirical point, in that no one would buy it unless they knew who it was by? Or is the joke on everyone for not being smart enough to be there and recognize how valuable the stuff on sale was? As with all Banksy, there's kind of an edge to it that makes you feel a little annoyed—like he's having a joke at your expense.
But overrated, sure. In that what is fun to walk past painted on a wall somewhere easily loses something significant when it is detached from that context and elevated to the point much of his work is.
I live in a part of South London with lots of walls where street art is sanctioned, and I walk past a lot of it that I love where it is, but that I'd never consider putting on my wall at home. Banksy is a bit like that, in that I love that his work is out there on walls, but that doesn't mean it'd mean anything on my wall.
Anyone willing to spend £1,000,000 on a piece of art by Banksy should know enough about him to imagine that he'd hate auctioning his work to the rich at an elite establishment like Sotheby's.
The creativity and ingenuity just seems too much for a single person.
I won't be surprised to see its estimated value double within a week.
I wonder what the message is here, or if there is a message beyond the publicity. I guess something about the art having no inherent value...
Kind of crazy that the art is likely worth as much as the entire building it’s on. Although, this is Manhattan so who knows.
Banksy's art is valuable exactly because his art pushes the boundary. It wasn't just destroyed for no reason. His graffiti art is meant to be public, and he has made no secret he thinks private art collection is bullshit.