“ Terracotta Blockchain” traces a quirky parallel between the Qin Shi Huang’s Terracotta Army and crypto art, for the sake of marking the turn in digital art history caused by blockchain technology. The soldiers from the Qin army were supposed to protect the emperor in his transition to his afterlife, whereas cryptographic technology is what marks and protects the transition of digital art from a pre-blockchain to a post-blockchain era.
Moreover, since the soldiers from the Terracotta army were made from a limited amount of molds and then individually customized to appear unique, there is an interesting and humorous parallel to trace with the debates around the notions of multiplicity versus unicity that surround NFT´s. And just as the Terracotta soldier required an immense amount of (human) energy to be created, so do NFT´s, except that it is electric energy that leaves a huge carbon footprint rather than a monumental cultural footprint.
The Kiral character “Moni”, a bunny-like creature, is central to this piece since I use it as a symbol of post-globalisation (cf. Mini-Moni), a phenomenon that might well lead to a new age of empires, a speculation that circles back to the Qin dynasty that established the first empire in China. Indeed, if at a macro level, blockchain is presented as a model for an ultimate social, political and economic globalized system, at a micro-level in the context of art, it taps into the post-globalisation narrative of fast self-made micro celebrities such as Beeple that “made it” by overriding the classic institutional model. Moreover, the rabbit is considered as the most lucky symbol in China, luck on which most of social media native celebrities depend despite their discourses on productivity being the key to a better life.
This piece also fits into my broader exploration of the complex relationship between the concepts of reality and imaginary as the line between both becomes blurrier than ever with the not so new “metaversal” blockchain implications.