“Slovenian artist Igor Štromajer, an early practitioner of internet art, remembers pushing back against an older generation of sceptics so he is keen to remain open minded. So far, however, he finds NFTs disappointing. ‘We’ve had digital and interactive computer-based art for decades. In the ’90s, at the beginning of the net art era, we developed interactive structures that were based on multiple servers around the world. They weren’t just complex technically but also in terms of their content, those go hand in hand.’ Each work could take several months to programme and selling them was difficult because Stromajer had limited control over the dispersed servers and the preservation of the work. When one of his pieces was acquired by the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 2002, Stromajer was asked to sign an agreement not to sell the work to someone else in lieu of being able to provide an ‘original’.
‘Now we’ve gone back to single file artworks, jpegs and gifs, which cuts the connection with net art as it was,’ Štromajer says. He sees this as part of a wider trend, started by the constraints and censorships of social media, which he calls the meme-ification of post-internet art. ‘If the market demands it then the art will be offered, that’s normal, but if you simplify it to sell it then at the end you get a single gif.’”