“The Accursed Share of Non-fungibles: What NFTs and Blockchains Suggest for Arts Practice, Pedagogy, and the General Economy” by DeYoung

  • ©Johannes DeYoung



Entry Number: 16


    The Accursed Share of Non-fungibles: What NFTs and Blockchains Suggest for Arts Practice, Pedagogy, and the General Economy



    As described by Georges Bataille in his 1949 essays on General Economy, the Accursed Share refers to the excessive and non-recuperable portions of an economy that must be spent lavishly or luxuriously, or otherwise be destined to outrageous, destructive, and catastrophic expressions — most often resulting in war, or other ruinous and destructive acts [Baitaille and Hurley 1988]. How might we might consider Bataille’s idea as expressed through the recent boom in Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and contemporary Blockchain technology? Between 2020 and 2021, the global trading volume of NFTs increased ten-fold [Nadini et al. 2021], with a reported global market of 22 billion USD in 2021 [Milmo 2021]. Researchers Matthieu Nadini (et al.) note that digital art sales accounted for roughly 10 percent of all NFT transactions in 2021 [Nadini et al. 2021]. The volume and frequency of the booming NFT market cannot be ignored, but what does it suggest for the future of art practice and pedagogy, and how does it relate to the excesses suggested in Bataille’s notion of general economy?

    A panel of artists and NFT pioneers demystify NFTs, discussing the virtues and vices of such radical shifts in art-commerce. Panelists expose the process of making and selling NFTs, the ecological and pedagogical impacts of blockchain technologies, and speculate on future outlooks for digital art practice. Discussion provides critical reflection on the philosophical and cultural implications that accompany shifts into evermore virtualized art-experiences. Questions considered include what import does Bataille’s seminal text bear in relation to contemporary digital art practice; what are the tangible cultural and ecological effects of digital art practice; and what insights does Bataille’s notion of general economy hold for the experience of contemporary art and future art practice. Discussion will expose fresh outlooks on possible futures of art practice and pedagogy, as related to the fields of computer graphics and interactive techniques.


    1. Georges Bataille and Robert Hurley. 1988. The accursed share. Vol. 1. New York: Zone Books. (1988).
    2. Matthieu Nadini 2021. “Mapping the NFT revolution: market trends, trade networks, and visual features.” Scientific reports 11.1 (2021): 1-11.
    3. Dan Milmo. 2021. “NFTs market hits $22bn as craze turns digital images into assets: Critics of non-fungible tokens say they are symptomatic of unsustainable digital gold rush”. The Guardian (16 Dec. 2021). https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/dec/16/nfts-market-hits-22bn-as-craze-turns-digital-images-into-assets. Accessed 21 Feb. 2022.

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