Art in orbit: Kevin Abosch takes NFTs to the stars

A new project will leverage a satellite to study climate change and create and distribute NFTs.

The phrase “NFTs are going to the stars” gets a new meaning today as Irish conceptual artist (and one of Cointelegraph’s Top 100 in Blockchain 2020) Kevin Abosch has announced the planned launch of a orbital satellite dubbed “1111 KOSMOS.” 

The announcement comes shortly after the conclusion of a related NFT drop, Abosch’s 1111 series. A collection of 1111 NFT-backed images, the artist’s website hinted that the pieces would be a gateway to a larger project, and that “over time it will be revealed how communities from around the world can interact with the work.”

In an interview with Cointelegraph, Abosch referred to 1111 KOSMOS as one of what will be many “activations” for the original 1111 series, and as “a guiding star of sorts for the collectors as a whole.”

He went on:

“Much of the imagery in the 1111 NFT’s are of satellites. There are plenty of surprises in store for those who choose to take the journey.”

1111 KOSMOS will be a CubeSat outfitted with “a sophisticated camera and proprietary software will produce high quality data pertaining to global climate change,” per a press release from Abosch. The images and data collected by the satellite will be made available to climate change researchers and governmental bodies, as well as used to create another NFT series to be distributed to 1111 holders.

Abosch — who is known for a hint of theatricality that can leaven his often conceptually-driven and philosophically complex work — hinted at the satellite launch throughout last week on Twitter, at one point referring to it as “cosmic.” There’s a strong possibility that the satellite will be used for more than mapping climate change, as well: at a recent exhibition at the National Museum of China, he used paintings to subtly jab at China’s state-run Uyghur concentration camps:

1/ In November 2019 I presented “Hypothetical Reconstruction” @ the National Museum of China in Beijing. More than a million visitors saw the work. Now, I am sharing the secret hidden in plain sight: Elements of the triptych are mapped to Uyghur concentration camps in Xinjiang.

— Kevin Abosch (@kevinabosch) January 26, 2021

Though Abosch says he “doubts” he’s the first to use satellite imagery for artistic purposes, using a satellite to conduct climate change research, to create and distribute NFTs, and to further interact with a details-as-yet-unannounced DAO element woven into the 1111 series is certainly a novel combination. 

Abosch told Cointelegraph that in order to accomplish such a technological and artistic feat, a full team was required, including Coder-Dojo founder James Whelton and Bridge founder Connor Murphy.

“While my area of specialty is computer vision, James is a versatile software engineer and Connor’s forte is data science. This challenge of this type of mission is in building agile yet robust architecture while keeping power consumption at a minimum. At the end of the day, it’s just a computer floating in the sky, but we have work around the limitations.”

Ultimately, the effort is part of a broader theme in Abosch’s work to make his on-chain installations interactive and experiential — and hinted that 1111 might be his most robust effort on that front yet.

“1111 challenges the assumption that we collect art by suggesting that perhaps the art collects us. By amplifying intrinsic value and through emotional engagement of the collector, it become increasingly difficult to intellectually argue that one is superior to the art. I have no problem with the “flippers” but I imagine for some there will be a sense of regret in not fully engaging in the ongoing relationship with the work.”

1111 KOSMOS will launch in Q4 of 2021. 

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