In a unique combination of the art and tech world, an artist just hid cryptocurrency in his latest work, called New Money.
Los Angeles-based artist Andy Bauch made abstract patterns using Lego bricks. Each of the piece in his New Money series represents a private key to a crypto-wallet, and anyone is free to grab that digital cash — if they can decode them, that is.
In an interview with Gizmodo, Bauch says he first played around with cryptocurrency in 2013. He now considers himself as an "enthusiast" but wouldn't go as far as calling himself a promoter of the technology. Years later in 2016, he began incorporating his interest in cryptocurrency into his artworks.
Art And Cryptocurrency
Each piece in New Money has "a secret key to various types of cryptocurrency," says Bauch. For this project, he purchased handful of currencies, including Bitcoin, Litecoin, and several others, putting them in digital wallets. Each of these wallets contains an encrypted private key that consists of a string of letters and numbers. Bauch made use of an algorithm to generate the patterns, but he also tweaked it so that it delivered an image that he liked.
Bauch then performed a number of tests to make sure that each artwork actually gave out cryptocurrency, and they all passed. A collector can buy the piece for themself, but the secret code is basically up for anyone to grab even if they don't purchase the physical version of the work. As such, each piece is available to view on Artsy, and the wallets are posted on Bauch's website. However, anyone who purchases one of the piece will receive a hint on how to crack the code.
New Technology And Humanity
The point of the project, according to Bauch, is to "span this gap that often exists between new technology and humanity." Art, of course, is always subjective. But there's something to be said about the clash of art, technology, and commerce — and how these elements all fuse together in unlikely ways and inadvertently play into our modern anxieties. A secret cryptocurrency inside an artwork feels, for the most part, like a game — a secret code one has to crack. But it also raises questions about whether Bauch's art has any "real" value when there's no cryptocurrency behind it.
What do you think? Will you be able to crack the code in Bauch's works? As always, if you have anything to share, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!