‘Bowie On The Blockchain’ is set to launch next week, 13 September, with digital artworks being sold on the OpenSea platform. All profits from the project will be donated to the humanitarian charity CARE, for whom Bowie’s widow, Iman, is a global advocate.
Each of the nine artists involved in the project have created their own unique homage to the late icon, who died in 2016 after suffering from cancer. Among the artists involved is Pussy Riot member and activist Nadya Tolokonnikova.
“David Bowie to me is a platonic ideal of an artist,” Tolokonnikova said in a statement about the project, “charismatic, passionate, imaginative, magnetic af, he always puts art x curiosity x subversion over profit, a magician and a muse. I’m in awe and will always be. David Bowie is my dad [sic].”
The digital offering is the latest in a line of ways Bowie is being commemorated, in the run-up to a new, critically-praised documentary about him, Moonage Daydream – the first since the singer’s death to have received approval from the late singer’s estate.
Last week, it was announced that Bowie will be commemorated along Camden’s Music Walk Of Fame, which already pays tribute to the likes of The Who and Amy Winehouse.
Some Bowie fans may be sceptical of such a digital art homage, especially involving the often-criticised NFTs – or non-fungible tokens, which are digital certifications of artworks or collectibles that everyone from Justin Bieber to Paris Hilton seems to be getting involved in.
Certainly, The Sunday Times’ Jonathan Dean has questioned the ongoing battle over the singer’s legacy, in the run-up to the release of Moonage Daydream. “What would Bowie think, one wonders, looking down from heaven?” he asks, in reference to the track ‘Lazarus’ from Bowie’s final album before his death, Blackstar.
David Bowie was a genius artist and a deep thinker.
In 1999, only 6 years after the birth of the worldwide web, Bowie spoke about the "unimaginable" effects of the Internet on society.pic.twitter.com/GVHE50ZIRO
— A SLICE OF HISTORY (@asIiceofhistory) August 14, 2022
However, others have been keen to point out the forward-thinking nature of the late icon, with NFTs simply being the latest iteration in the artworld as it intersects ever more with technology.
Andrew Keller, co-founder of the web3 We Love the Arts venture, involved in the ‘Bowie On The Blockchain’ project, told Rolling Stone magazine: “The more you think about what the crypto art space really is, the more you realize how ahead of his time Bowie was with some of the ways that he engaged with his fans — be it BowieArt, BowieWorld, Bowie Bonds, BowieNet.”
“He also made digital art himself, and so what excited me so much was the idea of making people aware of all of these things they probably don’t think about or know about when they think about Bowie, and to me it really became about solidifying his legacy on the blockchain, and creating beautiful, meaningful art.”