Ecosystems of digital art
With the recently published »CyberArt Network«, Albert-László Barabási addresses the topical phenomenon of NFTs and the complex ecosystem that surrounds and determines them. So-called non-fungible tokens are public data records stored in a blockchain, i.e. in data blocks in which various transactions are combined. The digital file linked with the NFT thus becomes tamper-proof, authenticated, and unique. This certificate of authenticity creates a new market for digital art, which has occasionally fetched exorbitant prices.
Barabási’s interest here is primarily the multitude of relationships that each NFT reveals and the network between artists and primary- and secondary-market collectors that is otherwise so often hidden in the conventional art market. Together with Milán Janosov, he mapped transactions from April 5, 2018 to March 20, 2021 on SuperRare, one of the early platforms for single-edition digital art. »CyberArt Network« reveals the highly interlinked nature of this digital ecosystem. Two artworks are connected if they were once owned by the same person, and the colors mark the identities of the collectors. The network reveals an extraordinarily small market, the dynamics of which are dominated by the activity of a few participants. The free accessibility of the data linked to NFTs allows the transactions and the evolution of an artwork’s value to be traced, which creates a new dimension of transparency for the economic processes of the art market.