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Artists Rights May Explain the NFT Craze of the 2020s

PLUS: Mukbangs as the Modern Vanitas
March 1, 2023

Welcome to Wednesday, Futurists! 

This week we’ve been enjoying the erratic weather in Palm Springs with our friends from eTail. This show has been so valuable to connect with many merchants and retail operators who are trying to make sense of the current environment. 

The common theme: there’s a TON of uncertainty — and that is leading to a lot of wishy-washy generalizations. People aren’t ready to go on-record for “what’s working” but there is a hopeful “wait and see” tenor that has been building since trade show season kicked off at NRF’s Big Show in January.

All that to say — the uncertainty isn’t tampering any excitement.

We’ll have a full review of eTail, including exclusive interviews with folks from Evo, Road Runner Sports, Harley Davidson, IPSY, and much, much more, on the podcast and in The Senses over the next week. 

— Phillip

P.S. This week in Insiders, Brian explored the nature of human and spiritual connection over the practice of breaking bread together.

In it, he theorizes that the modern vanitas (those oil paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries) are mukbangs (livestream eating), and other short-form videos meant for conspicuous consumption.

He also theorizes that consumption is key to religious behavior, and that consumption is transcendent; for some, bordering on religion. 

It’s FASCINATING. And well worth your time

The Rights of An Artist. Author and artist Bobby Hundreds is known for creating modern streetwear culture. In 2021, he created an NFT community that grew to > $30M in liquidity. He’s now writing a book about the turning tide of crypto, and how changing attitudes are nothing new to the world of artists and creator rights. In a recent newsletter, he expanded on this concept, including a survey of 70 national ARR (artist resale rights) laws. The U.S. has no such laws or protections for artists, which could be a contributing factor to the NFT Craze of the 2020s.

Our Take: Bobby Hundreds is known for writing important pieces that capture the growth and changes of culture, and how streetwear has played a role in defining that culture for the past tweneyt years. This newsletter continues his trend of thought leadership, and may one day be remembered as a seminal work to understand three things:

1. the NFT craze of the 2020s, and the impact on artists

2. incentive structures and corporate forces that fight artists (gallerists, etc)

3. the history of royalties in art and those who profit from it

It’s also illuminating to learn that many of the incentive structures in art and how it benefits commercial entities, like gallerists, are due to the pro-business stance of the U.S., and not necessarily a global phenomenon. 

This piece is well worth the read.

Contingencies for the Cash. The CHIPS act comes with strings attached — vendors must "buy American" as part of the scorecard for funds qualification.

More Sights & Sounds. Nokia has revealed its new logo, to remind people it is still a company and it doesn’t make legacy phones anymore. Amazon is expanding its same-day delivery offerings. Are redundant licensures hurting our overall economy? The US Copyright Office has set an interesting precedent by determining that Midjourney AI-generated images cannot be copyrighted. Stoicism is a reaction to the emotionally charged 2010s and outrage culture. Controlling weeds in the future may be a job for lasers, drones, and AI if John Deere has anything to say about it.

Retail Apocalypse. Dillards has announced store closings in Florida, Nebraska, and Arizona, despite reporting a sales increase of 5%. At the same time, the retailer has revealed plans to open a new location in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Zero Calorie Concerns. A recent study has linked erythritol, a common sugar substitute, to “blood clotting, stroke, heart attack, and death.” More research is needed beyond a single study, but doctors are urging caution with excess consumption for now. Time to find a different substitute for the substitute?

Reverse Quantum. A team of international scientists claims they can use a quantum system to reverse time. In response to this, our own Brian Lange says: “Time is a lie. But so is this. Not gonna happen.”

Metric Madness? Have you ever considered maybe it’s weird that we get mad about giving sweet, innocent little kids participation trophies, but then hold massive televised award ceremonies and devise local “30 under 30” lists for adults? We seem to have an obsession with ranking everything and everyone.

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