The internet collectively feared for its safety when Elon Musk purchased Twitter in October 2022. The new toy of the world’s richest man was now a social networking platform with 368 million users. What could possibly go wrong? The billionaire made Twitter his first change. He abolished the “lords-and-peasants” system that determines who gets a checkmark next to their names on the site. These checks were used to identify the authenticity, notability, and activity of accounts. In place of that top-down system, users could now simply buy blue-check-mark-notability for eight dollars a month.
It may or not be noticeable. It might not be noted.” This middling statement may be the best representation of the internet’s current status, as it blurs the lines between reliance on central authorities and building a decentralized, empowered, and more ground-up method of using the blockchain. Jack Butcher, artist, designer and Twitter Blue Subscriber, saw this as a perfect opportunity to explore the culture through the release of Checks VV. Checks, a 24-hour-long open edition NFT artwork that was released January 3, 2023, has since grown to be one of the most exciting NFT projects in the space.
What is Jack Butcher’s checks VV?
Checks’ concept roots are in a March 2021 1-of-1 NFT called NFTs. This explanation was provided by Butcher’s creative agency Visualize Value. Checks’ artwork is as simple as they come: 80 Twitter checkmarks of different colors, arranged in a grid.
What started out as a social commentary piece quickly evolved into a thought-provoking exercise in social status and motivation online. The open edition of Checks saw 16,031 mints and has been sold on OpenSea for just shy of 2000 ETH. After being overwhelmed by the success of the project, Butcher decided that he would take it further and push the boundaries of NFTs and the way people perceive them.
While speaking to nft, Butcher said that it was a combination the eight dollar to buy status and the idea that verifications and notability are now something we have the infrastructure to assign from bottom up. “The open edition gave us the opportunity to expand on the idea and push the question further, and to play with the concept in an even deeper way.
Butcher is trying out this idea by changing the metadata (appearances) of the NFTs in his collection. This encourages people to consider what an NFT is.
Butcher asked the Web3 community, “What are you buying when buying an NFT?” Are you buying an image? I don’t think you’re buying art. I challenge you to answer the question […]. of whether or not you are buying art. These are digital collectibles to a certain extent. However, NFTs can be used as canvas for art. Here’s the second phase of my experiment.
Checks’ unique burn mechanism
The second phase of Checks involves a burn dynamic. This creates unique incentives for holders and causes them to stop and think about what they are doing with their NFT. After Butcher has built the infrastructure, Checks holders can burn their NFT to make them an on-chain piece.
Multiple edition holders can take their Checks further. For example, two 80-check pieces can be burned to create an artwork with 40 checks. Two 40-check pieces can be burned to create a 20-check item. And so on, until you reach the benchmarks of 10, five and four and finally a single-colored checkmark artwork.
Given the number of holders, only 250 could be possible. But it doesn’t end there. A holder can create a single black-and-white check artwork by burning 64 single-colored-check pieces. Only three of those can be ever created by burning 4,096 copies of the 80-check artwork. However, this creates an interesting reverse dynamics for holders. The single check pieces are more rare and thus more valuable in NFT collecting terms. However, the more tokens used to chase them, the more rare the 80-check items become.
Collectors will have more options the further they follow the project. Butcher allows collectors to experiment with color schemes and token IDs in order to increase their agency throughout the collection’s creative process. To make a new NFT, a collector must decide which token ID they want to keep. This will help Butcher discover what numbers are most important to them.
Butcher believes that tokens can affect the color of pieces in a collection. This means that holders may choose to strategize based on visual preference, rather than rarity. Some collectors may choose to use certain color schemes in order to create unique pieces. It’s almost like creating their own PFP through the burning mechanics.
Butcher stated that people have reached out to him to obtain access to contracts to create trustless bodies to pool resources to pursue [the single black check],” referring to his predictions about how people will interact the collection’s rarer items. “There is a murmur of interest in creating DAOs to pursue it.
The future of Checks VV
Butcher is delighted to see Checks become a part of several other projects. He said that he is happy to draw attention to artists and other community members who invent with artwork, but may not have the same distribution potential as he does. Butcher, along with his technical team of Web3 developers jalil.eth traf, dedicated a page to derivative projects on the Checks VV official website.
Butcher has not yet released the code to allow holders to begin burning their digital tokens. The community that he built around Checks will continue to support the project’s growth. It remains to be seen if his predictions regarding the collection will be realized. Butcher has done something that few other projects in this space have attempted to do: he and his team used NFTs to reflect upon the internet culture they came from, while leaving it up to the community to build their future.
Butcher spoke of the motivations behind the project, saying that he was thinking about how to improve this piece of artwork. “To show people how they would like to play this game.”
Although he is referring to Checks, the statement could be used to describe NFT in general. Checks VV acts as a microcosm for that larger ecosystem. It encourages people to reflect on their actions at every level and invites them to take responsibility for the thoughts and behavior that lead them there. When Butcher released the first artwork, he wrote that it was not notable. Despite the satire, Checks VV is hardly the worst.
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