Broadsides (2023)

A satire of the current web3 space, Broadsides draws a connexion between the ageless theme of the Faustian contract and the allure of the NFT world.

The project consists of 30 unique pieces distributed randomly upon mint via Foundation Drops. 

<link to Foundation>

Included with each token purchase is a 12-page, signed, broadsheet newspaper about the project - shipping extra. To check which Broadsides have had their newspaper claimed, see <here>.

Each newspaper will also include the owner’s individual token as a unique pull-out centre spread (double page spread = 50cm x 70cm). These will be in colour and, like old-fashioned broadsides, will be printed on thin newsprint paper1. One newspaper per token.

︎︎︎ To claim a newspaper send an email in the first instance with your address and token details and I will work out the postage cost.

The name ‘broadside’ comes from one of the oldest types of ephemeral ‘street literature’. These large, cheaply produced posters were initially text-based and were used to advertise events, businesses and political views, sometimes in a satirical manner.

Each Broadside starts with the phrase ‘So You Wanna Be A NFT Star’, partly inspired by the song ‘So You Want To Be A Rock ’n’ Roll Star’, The Byrds’ good-natured satire of the music business2. I pencilled a rough draft of an imaginary broadside3 and developed the letters into a sans serif typeface, scanning the various progress stages.

To highlight recent breakdowns of traditional communication channels and the discord between promised web3 transparency and reality, these words were fashioned with various treatments from my unwriting toolbox.

Some were obfuscated by asemic gestures and glitch; some annotated with pencil marks; some translated into languages unknown. Others were buffed4 entirely, partly inspired by my past as a street artist. Displacement maps and layering techniques were utilised to deform certain areas and highlight others.

My mark-making seems to be controlled by some sort of inner navigation system which balances the conspicuous with the concealed, giving voice to unwritten thoughts.

Each token in the series contains, within its metadata description, fractured glimpses of a story from different ‘authors’, loosely based on the legend of Dr Faustus5 and his deal with the devil. Or possibly, based on the deal blues artist Tommy Johnston6 supposedly made with the devil7.

‘Author’ traits include Artist (x 17), Gallery (x 7), Dev (x 4) and the rare Collector (x 2), underscoring differing viewpoints within the NFT world.

These fragments of story8 don’t dictate any single interpretation. Combined with additional metadata traits such as Soliloquy and Visiting Spirit, they form a non-linear story from a non-linear (un)writer.

A not-entirely-serious comparison is drawn between Faust’s deadly deal for power and knowledge and the NFT space; suggesting that people working within the web3 space might make analogous contracts in their pursuit of wealth and recognition.

1. Please note that RGB colours seen in digital tokens cannot be totally accurately recreated in these CMYK prints. Also, broadsheet newspapers always come folded.
2. Actually, I was even more inspired by Patti Smith’s version of the song tbh.
3. If the missing ‘n’ irritates you (an NFT), just remember that there are no spelling mistakes in art.
4. Buff: verb, to clean or remove graffiti.
5. I remember smiling when I heard that the Coen Brothers hadn’t read Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ despite using it as the basis for their film ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou?’. For my part, I haven’t read Marlowe’s ‘Doctor Faustus’. Or Goethe’s ‘Faust’ either.
6. Robert Johnson (no relation) often gets the credit for the crossroads deal with the devil, but Tommy got there first.
7. Coincidentally, Tommy Johnson features in ‘Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?’. I love coincidences, don’t you?

8. Eagle-eyed viewers might spot references to, among others: Eric B & Rakim, Mark E. Smith, Faust–the band, Carol Ann Duffy, Tommy Johnson (and Robert Johnson), Max Romeo, ‘Faust’s House’ in Prague, Harry Clarke, the Royal Shakespeare Co. and Randy Newman in amongst the crypto talk.