Having spent the past two years innovating the drop mechanic and utility plays that are belatedly being adopted by the open edition boom, NFTNYC award-winning painter thr33som3s is now highlighting how big names in the NFT space are allowing CC0 to strip value from emerging artists, driving them to give away their rights, drawing comparisons between that and how sporting bodies exploit collegiate athletes through the use of free labor.
The cross-chain artist’s 2022 March Madn3ss event redefined the bracket sweepstake format and critiqued the wave of low-effort NFTs, while also building a model for progressive art, powered by intricately constructed holder utility.
He created 256 hand-painted 1/1 pieces, with results in the IRL March Madness college basketball tournament – combined with holders’ decisions – shaping what happened to those works in a truly random application of blockchain tech.
For 2023’s March Madn3ss pieces, he has repurposed some of the biggest CC0 projects in the space, bringing public domain artwork into his project in a conceptual move, recontextualising them and using them to start a debate about the underlying ethics of the CC0 rights push, while also questioning the motives of its biggest champions and asking who truly benefits from the initiative.
In the description for the March Madn3ss pieces, thr33som3s writes:
“What is more American than building a mega-enterprise on free labor? American colleges and universities have funded major percentages of their operating budgets with revenues from their football and men’s basketball teams.
The majority of the young boys receive little to no compensation, while the tournaments in which they play generate billions in revenue for their schools. To celebrate that quintessentially American sporting ritual, the Men’s Collegiate Basketball Championship, thr33som3s continues a tradition with the 2023 Grotto Madn33ss Tournament.
In 2022, the NFT space saw a wave of wildly successful projects and artists waive their claims to commercial rights under CC0, the Creative Commons Licensing project.
Having profited hundreds of millions of dollars with primary market sales under their reserved rights licenses, these projects and artists then decided to release all further claims to their license for their images.
At the same time, they loudly encouraged ALL artists working in the digital and NFT space to do the same. They posited a world where small, independent artists should freely release their work where it might find real reach via distribution by the mega-corps.
Artists who believed their work was their own and only they should decide how it was used and by whom were shunned and shamed into complying with the model employed by the giants. In comes 2023 Grotto Madness.
At the center of the 3v3nt, thr33som3s minted 320 unique tokens to represent the 64 seeds in each of the 5 Brack3ts: Pink, White, Black, Orange, and Purple.
He uses the backdrop of a CC0 piece, overlaying his unique, hand painted, lettering and numbers in colors he conceived and mixed. Though minted on a separate Madn3ss wallet, these tokens are official thr33som3s and, as such, will have Future Utility”
Speaking on the subject of CC0, thr33som3s says:
“Current attitudes towards CC0 from the leaders, whether on the successful artist side or larger project side, seem to me to be another example of the rich and powerful trying to control the output of the under-represented and emerging – and I have a real problem with that.”
View the March Madn3ss pieces here:
Thr33som3s’ Grotto Discord:
For more information or to arrange an interview with the artist, contact [email protected]
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