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Burning down the Banksy

A face-masked man who describes himself as a member of a group of technology and art enthusiasts holds a flame to the corner of a Banksy artwork and sets it on fire.

The man in the YouTube clip of the Banksy burning is involved with blockchain company, Injective Protocol, who bought the US$95,000 screen print called Morons (White), torched it and broadcast the real-life stunt live on Twitter.

But the print lives on, only in a different, non-physical form.

Injective Protocol used the blockchain technology, which underpins digital currency bitcoin, to turn Banksy’s 2006 screen print into a virtual asset called a non-fungible token, or NFT.

An NFT is a special type of cryptographic token which represents something unique and can be used to create verifiable artificial scarcity in the digital domain, as well as digital ownership. While the NFT provides proof of ownership, the art has no physical presence and can be reproduced.

The NFTed work was sold as digital art through NFT technology and the original destroyed.

“We view this burning event as an expression of art itself,” Injective Protocol spokesman Mirza Uddin told the BBC.

“We specifically chose a Banksy piece since he has previously shredded one of his own artworks at an auction.”

Ironically, the bloke who set the artwork alight wears a sweatshirt that bears an image of Banksy’s Girl with Balloon, a copy of which the talented vandal had shredded during an auction of the piece.

The value of the print is moved on to the NFT, explains the torcher.

“By removing the physical piece from existence, and only having the NFT, we can ensure the NFT — due to the smart contract ability of the blockchain — will ensure no one can alter the piece and it is the true piece that exists in the world.”

The goal is to inspire technology enthusiasts and artists, he says.

“We want to inspire artists to explore a new medium for artistic expression.”

Banksy’s Morons (White) depicts a crowded auction room with an ornately framed piece beside the auctioneer inscribed with the words “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit.”

Watch the six-minute burning of Banksy’s Moron (White) on YouTube at tinyurl.com/n6wddn2t

BANKSY AND BITCOIN TECH: A technology and art enthusiast torches a Banksy screen print after the artwork has been converted into a special digital image.