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METAMANTEROS, Digital activists in Web3

2022-ART/NET. The Web3 expose a new paradigm in terms of human labour, economics, data and planetary resources. It is promoted by companies obsessed with finding new forms of commercialization and surveillance models. –A new form of extractivism, which is leading to the inevitable creation of DAOs and the NFTisation of everything, merging internet services, social networks and entertainment in the Metaverse.
In the Metaverse avatars are able to move and interact with other avatars and other metaverses, but also to trade with objects, books, music, films and other services that are tokenized. This is the so called “creator economy”. A set-up resulting from experiments in the world of the art market and computer games. The intellectual writer Evgeny Morozov questions this discourse and asks himself: “How does one criticize a flawed, unrealistic, and extremely partial narrative that is, nonetheless, being rapidly turned into reality?”( Evgeny Morozov. Web3: A Map in Search of Territory)

INTERVIEW: “Guerrilla NFT. Exploring the socio-political dimensions of NFT technology” by Regine Debatty, at We Make Money Not Art.

“Manteros” (blanketmen) is the term used to refer to people who sell counterfeit goods on the street, such as music CDs, DVDs, video games, clothes, watches, etc. Manteros are migrants from countries such as Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, usually forced by mafias to work. They sell their products on the street on a blanket and pick up their goods as fast as they can and flee when they notice the police presence. The project, Metamateros consists in the creation of 3D avatars, to act as digital migrants capable to travel anonymously from metaverse to metaverse, (Mozilla hub, Decentraland, Sandbox, cryptovortex or Zuckerberg’s future metaverse) trading data and digital assets.

The Metamanteros avatars are provided with a blanket that is spread out on the floor, where they display digital products like clothes, bags, music or images, all of them digital fakes and copies, but also their manuals, because each Metamatero will includes manuals describing: a) Techniques for downloading/hacking digital assets, from Screenshots, NFTbay and web scraping; b) Strategies that help virtual migrations in different metaverses; c) a manual to report on DAOs, tokenisation and Web3, decentralisation and decarbonisation; d) tactics to sell products through parallel platforms such as e-bay, Willhaben, or barter IRL; e) a manual refusing to work for free and trade in virtual environments through unsustainable NFTs. (See crypto art WTF)…
The metamanteros have a function to collect their products and flee if the police appear. The avatars, manuals and digital products will be free download in a web.

Web3 instrumentalises the infrastructures and processes of digital artistic creation. Artistic value loses interest, as does the critical potential of digital artistic production and expression. Consequently, assets are the object of investor’s interest and the value of artworks is measured by their exchange, not by their artistic quality. (Zeilinger)The artist loses dependency and profit from exhibiting the artwork, while at the same time distancing himself from the creative work linked to their production processes. Nevertheless, some artists have been able to analyse this situation, escape the clutches of artificial scarcity and speculative mercantilism and put forward creative proposals capable of criticising the medium itself and opening up questions.(Bria)

The precariousness of the artist can drive participation in these platforms and metaverses where ownership and tenure are totally illogical. Moreover, these platforms help to build the illusion that this is the future that all artists deserve. (Juarez)To avoid this situation it is important to prioritise collective cultural property over private property models, to think about the advantages of artistic production and research by addressing the blockchain as a medium and object of artistic practice. (Zeilinger) Now, more than ever, digital artists must develop tactics to resist the assimilation of creative practices into artificially scarce, autonomously controlled commodity circuits, and resist the large-scale financialisation of digital art itself. Generally speaking, contributing to these platforms is not a form of artistic liberation, but a return to regimes of control over creativity. (Zeilinger) It is important that activists and artists are treated as professionals whose work plays crucially important roles in exploring the socio-political, economic and aesthetic potentials of this technology.

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