The fully digital piece, titled REPLICATOR, is an “NFT experience,” according to Phillips statement on the piece, which is designed to self-produce 7 unique NFT “generations” in a 28-day cycle. The original NFT set to be auctioned is an image of an urban night scene. At its center is a photocopy machine; its screen reads “Ready to replicate.” From that illustration, the work will produce one new NFT per month, with every subsequent cycle producing one less artwork.
“It uniquely links form, subject, and function as it is completely dependent on the capabilities of an NFT to exist and perform the role it’s been given,” said Rebekah Bowling, a senior specialist in Phillips’s 20th century and contemporary art department.
According to Phillips, the piece has the potential to malfunction, producing, at random, what the artist calls a “Jam Artwork,” a unique regenerated NFT that is unable to further replicate itself. For its second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth generations, the artist estimates that there is as much as an 80 percent chance that the work will jam.
Dowback, who is based in Ontario, has gained a following in the crypto art scene for his dystopian imagery. His work is featured in what has been billed as the first major museum exhibition devoted to crypto art, currently on view at the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. In February, the artist released a group of NFTs depicting similar night scenes of Tokyo on the crypto online marketplace Nifty Gateway.
Phillips’s announcement continues the NFT craze spurred by Christie’s sale of a work by Beeple for $69.3 million earlier this month. Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart recently confirmed that his house plans to collaborate with anonymous crypto artist Pak on an auction this month.