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Artist behind The NFT Bay says the project is a warning to potential NFT buyers

By | Published on Monday 22 November 2021

The NFT Bay

The Australian artist and programmer who has launched a website called The NFT Bay – a website making available fifteen terabytes of nicked NFT content – has spoken about the project, saying it is an artistic commentary on all the hype that has surrounded non-fungible tokens this year.

NFTs are tokens stored on a blockchain that usually contain information in relation to a piece of content, physical or digital. That information often relates to who owns or has access to the content that the token is linked to.

There has been much talk about how NFTs bring scarcity to digital content, and NFTs linked to digital art, video and music have been selling for mega-bucks. However, the content any one NFT is linked to is often just stored on a conventional server somewhere, making it very easy to pirate. And which might also mean that content just disappears at some point.

Supporters of the NFT phenomenon would argue that what buyers are buying when they purchase a non-fungible token isn’t simply access – exclusive or otherwise – to the content itself, but an official status in relation to the content, as either owner or licensee. And an official status that is confirmed for everyone to see on the blockchain. So, basically they are buying bragging rights.

But NFT nay-sayers reckon that it’s mad to spend mega-bucks to basically buy a digital file that will inevitably get copied and shared – and therefore be available for free – across the internet.

An info page on The NFT Bay – a website designed very much to look like The Pirate Bay – declares: “Did you know that a NFT is just a hyperlink to an image that’s usually hosted on Google Drive or another web 2.0 host? People are dropping millions on instructions on how to download images”.

“That’s why you can right click save-as because they are standard images”, it goes on. “The image is not stored in the blockchain. The image is not stored in the blockchain contract”.

“As web 2.0 webhosts are known to go offline”, it continues, “this handy torrent contains all of the NFTs so that future generations can study this generation’s tulip mania and collectively go ‘WTF? We destroyed our planet for THIS?!”

The latter part of that statement refers to the ‘tulip mania’ phenomenon and crash of the seventeenth century, while the final exclamation relates to concerns about the environmental impact of NFTs and the blockchains they rely on.

The creator of The NFT Bay is artist and programmer Geoffrey Huntley, who told Vice’s Motherboard last week: “Fundamentally, I hope through The NFT Bay people learn to understand what people are buying when purchasing NFT art right now is nothing more than directions on how to access or download an image. The image is not stored on the blockchain and the majority of images I’ve seen are hosted on web 2.0 storage, which is likely to end up as 404 meaning the NFT has even less value”.

Huntley adds that he thinks there is probably something of value to the core proposition of the NFT phenomenon – though not in the way said phenomenon is currently headed, and not necessarily built upon the blockchain.

“The utility (and value) of NFTs will be created through social media platforms”, he added. “For many digital representation is [greater than] physical representation and – if/when – Twitter/TikTok roll out the ability to display flair on a social media profile that will be a turning point”.

“We see how bananas people go over the Twitter blue verified check mark – now think how social media will change when it has the ability to display verifiable proof of membership vs adding the words to a social media bio. All of this, however, could be achieved without blockchain”.

Make of all that what you will.