Yves Klein and cryptocurrency – together at last! Okay while that pairing does not roll off the tongue, it is the premise of Toronto artist Mitchell F. Chan’s recent Digital Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility, a cryptocurrency-based project that he launched last week at InterAccess. Chan’s conceptual project riffs on Klein’s near mythical 1958 performance, artist, book and exhibition Zone of immaterial pictorial sensibility, which saw the artist parcel out zones of empty gallery space and sell them for gold. The buyer of each ‘zone’ would get a receipt for their purchase and the price of each zone scaled up sequentially; the purchase was not (truly) complete until the buyer took part in a ritual that saw them burn the receipt after which Klein threw half the gold received into the Seine. Seeing parallels between translating (gallery) space into currency (and related inflation), Chan created IKB – an ERC-20-compliant token on the ethereum blockchain with a contract inspired by Klein’s. An excerpt from his summary:
The Digital Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility extend our culture’s relationship to the virtual asset. The Digital Zone is not a virtual avatar for a physical thing, and in this way it avoids the problem of the virtual as a simulacrum, subservient to the real. A digital music file produces a reproduction of a physical sonic experience. An in-game virtual asset such as, say, a new set of horse armour, is a visual representation of a real-world thing. The Digital Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility is the first ever digital product which is not a stand-in, representation, avatar, or vessel for another phenomenon. The Digital Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility is itself the immaterial artistic sensibility of blue. It is, like Klein himself said, “without any effect, any trick or any deception.” It is a connection between two distinct types of virtuality.
Check out Chan’s (Klein) ‘blue’ paper for a project synopsis, his GitHub repo to inspect the contract, and (if you have some ether) purchase a token – and ideally request a ritual of your own, to destroy your shiny new immaterial property.