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Murat Sayginer – Art, Commerce or Both — Now What? by Andy Romanoff


I opened my Twitter feed a few weeks ago and found this message:

Dear Mr. Romanoff,

My name is Gökberk Kızıltan and I represent Murat Sayginer, a digital artist widely known for his short animated films. Murat recently started quite an unusual collection of NFTs called “Refractions”. You can find more information about the series below…

There was more explanation, followed by links to the work, and this thought:

We think that artistic boundaries are being rediscovered in the emerging digital fields so we thought of reaching out to art aficionados and professionals to introduce different perspectives to our followers. I am writing to ask whether you would be interested in writing and publishing a review/critic about the project?

Not the usual so and so is showing this or that, so I was intrigued. I followed the links to find short loops of artfully made videos. They incorporated multiple revolving images. They were modern and clean, and they showed skill and consistency. Are they uhhh…art…I have no idea. Yeah, I know, we are supposed to be past that question and I only ask it here because I am puzzled by this new form, not the images themselves but the image+NFT which is the art here. In an anything-can-be-art world it seems to me art and commerce are to some extent uncoupled. But in the NFT world, art and commerce are literally two sides of the same coin. So how do we judge it then?

Also, these images exist in the world of screens. And to my long established preconceptions, things in that form are compensated by a mass audience at a moderate price, the cost of a movie ticket or a stream to contemplate the thing for a time. But it seemed something else was being asked here. Will you contemplate the purchase of unique ownership of an aspect of the image rather than the image itself? Turned out it was more complicated, but that wasn’t immediately apparent.

We have been struggling for a while now to fix value to reproducible images. Photographers go to great lengths to make their images unique through limited editions or hand-made prints, creating artificial one off scarcity from reproducible originals . The world of moving images has the same problem, but writ even larger. First of all, moving images don’t exist in the physical world, only in the ephemeral perceptual one. But Sayginer’s offering attempts to address the ownership of the experience through a combination of blockchain and rights. On the website you learn:

You’re buying a limited edition digital creation, signed by the creator. Upon purchase, you’ll be given the right to use, distribute and display the creation for non-commercial purposes. Since you own this unique creation, you can also re-sell the same non-commercial use rights, to the creation, on a secondary market or even directly on MakersPlace.

Upon purchase, you can access the high resolution digital file which you can display on any digital device or even print out, for personal use. All the while, knowing that you have the authentic piece, verifiable on the blockchain.

A brilliant writer about the worlds of cryptocurrency and finance named Matt Levine has been talking a lot lately about people investing for the fun of the gamble instead of the fundamentals of the companies the stocks represent. I’m wondering if we have reached that stage here. If buying an art related NFT is a purchase experience as well as an Art experience. If that’s the case, I guess the right price is whatever you can spend that gives you pleasure, the same as any other art purchase. For an old guy like me, I find my pleasure is holding beautifully made images on pieces of paper or seeing them on my walls as the light changes. For you, I have no idea. (2-9)


All photos copyright Murat Sayginer

Titles are embedded in file name

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