Earlier today, Andre Oshea, the artist that created the Chadwick Boseman NFT for the Oscars, released a statement on Instagram that attempts to address the controversy around the project. On Sunday, Oshea revealed the NFT artwork, a golden model of Boseman’s head, and announced that it would be auctioned off after the Academy Awards, with 50% of the proceeds going towards The Colon Cancer Foundation.
The reaction to the project was overwhelmingly negative, for a variety of reasons. Now, Oshea is now redesigning the artwork for a new auction, set for this Friday. Here’s the full statement from Oshea’s Instagram:
The Chadwick Boseman NFT project is problematic and disrespectful for many, many reasons, the least of which perhaps because “Chadwick’s face is a triggering reminder of his death rather than his life.” Oshea neglects to mention the fact that the art itself is just an asset flip of a 3D model that Oshea ostensibly purchased from cgtrader.com for $50, or that Oshea stood to make over half a million dollars. The statement doesn’t address the ghoulish commodification of Boseman’s likeness or its association with the Oscar ceremony which failed to honor Boseman in any meaningful way. And of course, it makes no attempt to reckon with the reality that NFT art is a wildly controversial medium due to the staggering environmental impact of the technology and ease of which an NFT creator can profit from someone else’s art. See exhibit A.
The statement only addresses the optics of the image itself, sidestepping the criticism that it isn’t even original art or that art based on Boseman shouldn’t be auctioned off this way at all. It does not matter if Oshea creates new artwork that includes Boseman’s name in fancy lettering or some reference to Black Panther — which, it’s worth mentioning, is not the film that Boseman was nominated for — the Boseman NFT art auction will remain an example of exceptionally poor taste.
Don’t expect Oshea or Nomine(ETH) to acknowledge why people are actually upset about this project. Oshea spent Sunday evening tweeting and retweeting dozens of posts that refer to legitimate criticisms of the artwork as haters and internet trolls. Oshea’s statement doesn’t read like an apology because it’s not, and changing the artwork isn’t going make it OK.
If you look at all the parts of the project up close it’s not that hard to justify. Remixing models and combining assets is a fairly common practice in digital art, and what Oshea has added to the Boseman model from cgtrader.com would reasonably constitute it being labeled as original work. Moreover, honoring the deceased whose life and work was meaningful to so many is a respectable cause, and donating hundreds of thousands to charity is obviously a good thing, too. But none of these facts would ever dissuade the critics of this project that justifiably feel that the entire thing is in really poor taste. NFT art is a grift, surely there were better ways to honor Boseman’s legacy than to hype up an artificially inflated medium that relies on fake scarcity and can’t be created with a detrimental impact on the environment. Selling keychains and donating the proceeds to charity would likely have raised just as much money, but it wouldn’t have gotten Oshea nearly as much attention, and maybe that’s the point.
Next: Square Enix Set To Publish Environmentally Damaging NFTs
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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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