Demystifying the first blockchain art auction “Portraits of a Mind” at Christie’s


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There are 40 pieces of “Portraits of a Mind” Bitcoin-themed series of artworks, of which the 21st piece is being auctioned at Christie’s in New York.

Written by: Est Dedezade
Translation: Lu Jiangfei

“Portraits of a Mind” is a set of digital artworks, there are 40 pieces in the world, and these artworks contain 12.3 million digital Bitcoin codes.

Content overview:

  • The 21st piece (Block 21) in the “Portraits of a Mind” Bitcoin-themed series of artworks is being auctioned at Christie’s in New York;
  • There are 40 digital artworks in the “Portraits of a Mind” series. This auction is one of the series, which contains the Bitcoin code;
  • Other works in the “Portraits of a Mind” series have been collected by many cryptocurrency enthusiasts, including Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao.

If you have been to Christie’s in New York, you must be shocked by the artworks on the wall, because these works are by the greatest artists of all time, such as Monet, Picasso, Warhol, Pollock, etc. But starting from October 1st, when you stroll through Christie’s gallery again, you will find a brand new work: a huge and attractive “record”! At first glance it looks like an ancient work of art.

Demystifying the first blockchain art auction ``Portraits of a Mind'' at Christie'sAbove: The 21st (Block 21) in the “Portraits of a Mind” series of digital artworks (Photo credit: Robert Alice / Ben Gentilli)

The display of this work is engraved with thousands of hexadecimal codes (322,048 codes to be precise), some of which are highlighted in gold, radiating from the central void. If you watch the work from a distance, it may be difficult to discover the secret of the fraud right away, but when you look closely, you will see the work serial number: “Block 21” on the inner circle.

In fact, the work “Portraits of a Mind” is closely related to 39 other works of the same series in the world. If all the works are connected together, the length will exceed 50 meters-then some people cannot help but ask, the work has 12.3 million digital codes. Is there any hidden meaning behind it? In fact, these codes are all handmade and accurately transcribed Bitcoin v0.1.0 original codes!

A portrait of Satoshi Nakamoto disassembled into 40 parts

The artist behind the creation of this work is called Ben Gentilli (Ben Gentilli), and he named the series “Portraits of a Mind”. Undoubtedly, the entire creative process is extremely difficult. The digital fingerprints on the works are all carved with paint, and each of the 40 works contains some original tokens, which can only be seen after all the codes are gathered together. To the full picture of this series: a portrait of Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous founder of Bitcoin. (Chain Wen’s Note: Satoshi Nakamoto first released the original Bitcoin code in January 2009.)

Ben Gentil said:

“The original Bitcoin code is like a historical document. I want to celebrate it and save it in the same way as the Magna Carta. But at the same time, I also want to try to answer a question. I have never seen Satoshi Nakamoto. Make his portraits in the context of people.”

Ben Gentili believes that the work “Portraits of a Mind” has actually interpreted Satoshi Nakamoto very well. He further explained:

“For me, this work is Satoshi Nakamoto, because this work is scattered all over the world, just like Bitcoin.”

The work “Portraits of a Mind” is built on a canvas disc with a diameter of 50.59 inches. It is covered with suspended pigments, graphite and aluminum paint. Each code is hand-carved and embellished in gold color (a metaphorical bit Coin mining) and arranged in a (decentralized) constellation pattern.

Demystifying the first blockchain art auction ``Portraits of a Mind'' at Christie'sAbove: There are 40 discs in the “Portraits of a Mind” series (Photo credit: Robert Alice/Ben Gentilli)

Why does this work use discs? In fact, Ben Gentile hopes that people can recall symbolic “digital circular products” through the disc, such as coins, rai stones, cryptographic wheels, astronomical charts, etc. There is a coin in the center of each “disc” with the image of a monarch on the surface of the coin, and there is a blank space around it.

The process of creating this work was very difficult. Despite the help of professional machines, it took Ben Gentilli three years of hard work to complete all the work. He even quit his job and moved to an abandoned police station. But in the end, Ben Gentile finally realized his dream, he said:

“I was actually inspired by the Polish artist Roman Opalka, who gave up his full-time job and devoted himself to the creation of’OPALKA 1965/1 -∞’ since 1965.”

In 1965, Polish painter Roman Opalka, who was born in France, was waiting to meet his wife at the Bristol Café in Warsaw. While waiting, he suddenly had an idea: it takes a lifetime to paint on canvas Numbers, one painting after another, until death. Roman Opalka named this work “OPALKA 1965/1 -∞”, and the final freeze-frame number of this work is 5,607,249.

The 5,000-year history of Bitcoin

“Portraits of a Mind” not only uses the historically significant Bitcoin code and splits it, but the series itself also reflects the decentralization purpose of cryptocurrency: decentralization. In fact, Ben Gentile refused to sell multiple works to the same collector.

Since the beginning of this year, the 0-20 of the “Portraits of a Mind” series have been collected by many collectors, including Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, Bloq Chairman Matthew Roszak, Kenetic co-founder Jehan Chu, etc. Now these works are scattered all over the world, but if you want to find a complete map of the location of the code base, you can click this link .

Demystifying the first blockchain art auction ``Portraits of a Mind'' at Christie'sAbove: This artwork depicts the complete code base of Bitcoin (Photo credit: Robert Alice/Ben Gentilli)

The authenticity of each “Portraits of a Mind” series can be verified by linking the unique OpenDime key on the back of the painting to the Bitcoin blockchain. The 21st painting also has an associated NFT token. The digital world is connected to ensure the authenticity of works-this also created a precedent for Christie’s auctions.

It is worth mentioning that the reason why Ben Gentilli wanted to publicly display and auction the 21st piece of the “Portraits of a Mind” series is not accidental, but profoundly meaningful-because the total supply of Bitcoin is 21 million Pieces.

“The essence of Bitcoin is: once version 0.1 is released, the core design of Bitcoin’s entire life will remain unchanged.”-Satoshi Nakamoto.

The Bitcoin code can only be traced back to 2009, but “Portraits of a Mind” can be traced back even further, 5,000 years to be precise. Each work in the series is associated with a specific set of geographic coordinates related to history. For example, the 23rd work points to Hut 8, Bletchley Park, England, where the office of Alan Turing, the father of computers, was once.

Revolutionary technology and art

In fact, artists are also keen to showcase emerging technologies through their works. For example, British painter William Turner’s work “Rain, Steam, and Speed—The Railway to the West, 1844” is now hanging on the wall of the National Gallery in London. This painting depicts a real technological revolution and is very attractive. In the words of Ben Gentile: The steam engine represents the end of the romantic period and the beginning of the industrial revolution.

Ben Gentile believes that Bitcoin has brought revolutionary changes to the world. This is the first time in half a century that there has been a global money supply that is separated from the existence of the concept of state. He added:

“In the process of exploring and promoting what role the blockchain can play in society, art and culture play a fundamental role, while also retaining the story and historical value for future generations. The series of “Portraits of a Mind” This is my contribution. People have to look at the world and ask themselves what is the most important now and what is the most important in 30 years. The last page of the Bitcoin experiment has not yet been completed, but if Bitcoin does not succeed, we We must also leave behind one of the most critical legacy-decentralized thinking.”

The era of encryption art has arrived

In 2018, Christie’s successfully auctioned a painting created by artificial intelligence, “Portrait of Edmund Bellamy”. This painting depicts a man with a slightly blurred image in an off-center position, and his body is blessed , Wearing a dark coat with a white collar, and the creator’s signature “min max Ex[log(D(x))] + Ez[log(1-D(G(z)))]” is displayed in the blank space of the painting . In the end, this work was acquired by an anonymous buyer at a price of US$432,500.

If nothing else, the 21st work of the “Portraits of a Mind” series will be auctioned on October 7, and this is the first time Christie’s offers blockchain-related artworks. So far, most of the artworks related to encryption are Decentraland, MEME, GIF and other random creations scattered on the Internet. With the entry of Christie’s, a well-known auction house with a long history, it may indicate that digital collections have moved mature.

Not only that, many celebrities in the encryption industry also believe that digital collectibles have reached a whole new level.

Jehan Chu, co-founder of Kenetic Capital, owns one of the “Portraits of a Mind” series. He said:

“As an early Bitcoin holder, I am very happy to be able to hang one of the “Portraits of a Mind” series on my home wall because it represents that I was once a member of the Bitcoin revolution. The significance of Bitcoin is not only embodied in currency and value, but also in the subculture of decentralization and changes in power structure. It also represents a paradigm shift. The pioneer of Bitcoin is like a proud and possessed Self-identified tribes, but until now there is no cultural symbol to symbolize their tribe.”

Demystifying the first blockchain art auction ``Portraits of a Mind'' at Christie'sAbove: Ben Gentilli and his “Portraits of a Mind” (Photo credit: Robert Alice/Ben Gentilli)

Bloq Chairman Matthew Roszak is also one of the owners of the “Portraits of a Mind” series. He said:

“There is no doubt that “Portraits of a Mind” is an important milestone in the cultural history and art history of Bitcoin. I am shocked by the depth of the series, the author’s understanding of decentralized art and the overall aesthetic beauty. Bitcoin code The library is one of the most important historical documents in the modern era, and now art history has finally become immortal.”

As the creator of the “Portraits of a Mind” series, Ben Gentilli said:

“As Christie’s put the 21st piece of the “Portraits of a Mind” series for auction, the blockchain community will be able to showcase its cultural foundation on the global stage for the first time. I look forward to and welcome more collectors to join. Our network, no matter where they are.”

Chain Wen Annotation: The 21st picture in the “Portraits of a Mind” series will be exhibited at Christie’s New York Gallery from October 1-6, 2020, and then auctioned on the 7th.

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