Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Crypto-Preservation and the Ghost of Andy Warhol

Version 1 : Received: 23 February 2022 / Approved: 28 February 2022 / Online: 28 February 2022 (03:29:03 CET)

How to cite: Ippolito, J. Crypto-Preservation and the Ghost of Andy Warhol. Preprints 2022, 2022020346. Ippolito, J. Crypto-Preservation and the Ghost of Andy Warhol. Preprints 2022, 2022020346.


For its enthusiasts, the blockchain is an archivist's dream come true: an immutable historical record that is publicly accessible and immune from censorship. Proposals like Juried Protocol Galleries could enable bots to compute the provenance of digital artworks and their appearance in exhibitions and publications. Distributed file systems like IPFS claim to store creative works in a redundant, networked fashion outside the control of any single cloud provider. Projects designed to work with blockchains like Filecoin and Arweave propose a dedicated cryptocurrency as financial incentive to support the cost of governing and sustaining this "permaweb." As dreamy as this picture sounds, many of these promises depend on technologies that have yet to be sufficiently developed or adopted. Rather than forecast the future, we can separate the hype from the reality in the present day by examining a real-life example, namely the 2021 auction of Andy Warhol's digital art with NFTs. This essay will focus less on blockchain's general promise as a preservation medium and more on the particular case of the digital Warhols, which both in form and spirit would seem a perfect application of NFTs to preserve historically important works of digital art. Which promises of the crypto-dream of permanent access to digital heritage ring true for this case study, and which are overblown?


digital art; Andy Warhol; Yves Klein; Pop art; blockchain; NFT; digital preservation; variable media; authenticity; net-worked storage; migration; cryptocurrency; Amiga


Computer Science and Mathematics, Computer Science

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