MOCA 2023 Fundraiser: In Conversation with Colborn

From its founding in 2020, The Museum of Crypto Art (M○C△) has been a pivotal force in the evolution of the crypto art movement. In 2023, this vision culminated in the MOCA fundraiser, an unprecedented initiative that brought together more than 700 artists worldwide.

This was more than just a fundraiser; it embodied the richness, diversity, and sheer potential of the crypto art community, marking the
largest collaboration in crypto art history.

Mediterranean Bay - Paulius Uza

MOCA’s Evolution: Merging Digital Expertise & Global Creative Expression

Founded in April 2020 by visionaries Colborn Bell and Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, MOCA found its unique space within Somnium Space, a digital realm conceived alongside art historian Shivani Mitra and architect Desiree Casoni.

Here, it was not just about displaying art but creating a thriving ecosystem for NFT-backed artworks. By showcasing an art-focused NFT collection, the ultimate goal was to showcase a premier collection that spoke to crypto culture.

MOCA quickly became a landmark in crypto art, presenting standout exhibitions, facilitating deep-dive artist dialogues, and setting sales records. Among these it is worth citing their acquisition of “Picasso’s Bull” by Trevor Jones in 2020 which wasn’t just a purchase, but rather a statement of intent and a testament to their unwavering belief in the potential of crypto artists and the NFT medium.

In January 2021, the founders parted ways, with Bell continuing to manage MOCA alongside Mitra. Within a short time after, they implemented MOCA’s most significant shift to date: transitioning towards becoming a community-operated project. A DAO structure was adopted, with the $MOCA token used for governance purposes as part of this change.

Everyone, from anywhere, could now experience MOCA. Furthermore, as yet another step towards bridging the gap between digital and tangible art, MOCA’s curated pieces found their way into worldwide renowned museums and galleries as well — An organic transition that was MOCA’s way of saying that crypto art was not an isolated, transient phenomenon; but rather was a critical chapter in the ever-evolving history of art.

Robot Portrait 2006 #2 (Series of 3) - Pindar Van Arman

The MOCA Fundraiser: A Milestone in Digital Collaboration

In August of 2023, MOCA unveiled a groundbreaking initiative: the MOCA Fundraiser.

A colossal digital canvas, with every pixel representing a story, every hue representing an emotion, and every segment being its own universe. This is what MOCA’s fundraiser brought to life—a mesmerizing mosaic interwoven with the dreams, aspirations, and creativity of over 700 artists from diverse backgrounds. And every artist, irrespective of their stature—be it an OG or an emerging visionary—contributed a piece, a tile, to this rich digital tapestry.

More specifically, this fundraiser offered collectors the opportunity to either buy the Open Edition or bid for the MOCAIC 2023, the 1/1 homage to MOCA’S Fundraiser 2023 DNFT which also offered the option for a physical print version.

For those unfamiliar, DNFT stands for Decentralized Non-Fungible Token—a new frontier in the crypto art world. Like no other fundraiser, it sought to bind the essence of collaboration, technological innovation, and artistic freedom into a single mosaic.

The fundraiser concluded on September 3rd with a total of 1625 Open Editions minted*, and the exclusive MOCAIC 2023 1/1 acquired by @raptornews for 1.727 Eth.

*Mosaic DNFTs which were able to be held for future roadmap events or redeemed for any number of creator’s work if they made it available.

The stone beneath our feet - Ophelia Fu

Colborn in Conversation with Fakewhale

In the aftermath, Colborn took the time to sit down with the Fakewhale team to talk about this initiative.

Since MOCA’s inception, which developments did you predict or hope for in the realm of crypto art, and how has the 2023 fundraiser embodied those anticipations?

Unfortunately my hopes and predictions for crypto art in 2020 fell victim to my own naivete and it seems silly even to detail them. At this point it is important for us, the self-prescribed idealistic stewards of the crypto art movement, to admit that we failed. The system we were so diametrically opposed to, consumed us in our entirety. Mine a particularly strange and unique feeling of helplessness as our accessible and inclusive paradise was overrun with every shade of *insert capitalist cliche* stripping it bare. It was gross, truly painful to watch – there is no new insight here.

In the three and a half years since MOCA’s inception we worked tirelessly and with little or no compensation to stand for and communicate the power of the technology and the ways it could empower digital creators. I’m incredibly proud of what the team accomplished, the depth and intellectual rigor that we brought to the project, all with the understanding that “being ahead of your time” is the nice way of people telling us “wtf were you even thinking?”.  But I stand by it, for perhaps what we built and supported was never ours to enjoy.

o at the end of it all, the bottom of the bear, with frustrations at an all-time high, many having left “the space”, and everyone at each other’s throats on Twitter, we decided to launch a fundraiser. A final curtain call for the “esprit de corps”, a capturing of the remnants of a never realized movement. A recognition that MOCA is not so much a physical place that exists, but the communal feeling (or at this point nostalgia) that what we are doing here is valuable, will unequivocally change the world and make art history.
And the outcome was truly beautiful – really deeply touching.

Art Disorders - Hackatao

Fakewhale: This fundraiser represents the largest crypto-art collaboration to date, setting a new landmark in collaborative crypto-art. How has taking on this project deepened MOCA’s vision of uniting diverse artistic voices? And what ripple effects do you anticipate in the broader art landscape?

Two questions
Is it Important?
Who else could do this?

Yes, to me, undeniably yes – and seemingly there was nobody else. So this idea became an obligation that we choose to honor. And as such it is simply authentic to our vision of uniting diverse artistic voices. There is no deepening because it just is. It is core to the ethos and identity of the Museum.

I won’t speculate on ripple effects.  But I do often think about this piece on Superrare “Through Time and Space” and what it means and holds to those artists who have all since woven very distinctive paths.

Fakewhale: DNFT, an essential element of this fundraiser, seems to redefine art ownership and interaction. How do you think this new frontier challenges or reimagines the traditional art world’s notions of value and permanence?

For those who don’t know that the “D” in DNFT stands for Dynamic.  In practice, this means that each time the artwork is viewed it shuffles randomly the order of the 713 artworks which are included within it.  So while we generated a static output to resemble the MOCA Logo, the reality is the art exists in an ever-shifting permutation of possibility.  Which conceptually, in contrast to a physical artwork’s permanence of being, is somewhat interesting!  Beyond this there are numerous ways to artsplain why this is important.

NICHE - Ilan Katin

Fakewhale: Could you delve deeper into the significance of the ‘burn-to-redeem’ functionality in the context of this fundraiser?

Colborn: This was designed to be a bit playful to turn a bit of a lens back on the community, its past, and wild moments of degeneracy.  Manifold’s “burn-to-redeem” is meant to bring future utility to the works being created and minted.  Some may recall a brief meta of artists promising ludicrous roadmaps which could only be accessed based on the number of editions one minted during a short window.

Anyways we encouraged artists to set up a burn to redeem for the individual artworks they included in the mosaic and we also set up the ability for collectors to burn ten DNFTs for a large print. What does it mean to burn 713 artworks for one specifically? Or for a large print?  More interesting questions than a deeper significance.

If you had to encapsulate the essence of the 2023 MOCA fundraiser in a single phrase or statement, what would it be?

Colborn: As it was (so it shall be)

Fakewhale: What’s next for MOCA?

Colborn: We just held a group exhibition of performance artworks, curated by the fantastic OONA, featuring SamJ, Violet Bond, Edgar Fabián Frías, David Henry Nobody Jr, DADAGAN, and OONA.  So one can always expect more group shows and highlighting all sorts of artists from diverse backgrounds and practices.

Beyond this we’ll be producing two weekly podcasts, one a discussion of current events between Max Cohen and myself and the second a discussion with a weekly guest exploring their thoughts on the current situation and projects of interest to them.

Finally we’ll be doing a major UI/UX revamp of our MOCA Multipass/Shows/ROOMs ecosystem which should make it significantly easier for people to share their art and the artwork that they have in their collection.

Message about digital garbage - Fabiano Speziari

In Conclusion

Since its establishment in 2020, the Museum of Crypto Art (M○C△) has taken a lead role in the crypto art landscape, reflecting the sector’s rapid growth, innovation, and immense potential.

The 2023 MOCA fundraiser wasn’t just about finances; it embodied true collaboration. Bringing together over 700 artists from varied backgrounds, MOCA staged the most extensive collaborative effort in crypto art history, setting a gold standard for the entire community.

This unparalleled unity showcases the foundational strength of the crypto art movement: its ability to foster decentralized yet synergistic collaborations.

Not to mention the groundbreaking technological innovations embedded within this fundraiser, as the ‘burn-to-redeem’ mechanism and the introduction of the DNFT concept further underscore MOCA’s relentless commitment to pioneering fresh avenues in the digital art landscape.

However, reducing the MOCA 2023 Fundraiser to merely an event or a technological marvel would be an oversimplification. It’s a symbol, a testament to the transformative power of art, technology, and collective vision. This historic collaboration underscores that when artists, technologists, and supporters converge with a shared purpose, they don’t just create art—they make history.

Overthinking - Skygolpe

Founded in 2021, Fakewhale advocates the digital art market's evolution. Viewing NFT technology as a container for art, and leveraging the expansive scope of digital culture, Fakewhale strives to shape a new ecosystem in which art and technology become the starting point, rather than the final destination.

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