A Conceptual Cryptocurrency Sculpture Captured the Spirit of San Francisco’s If So, What? Fair

The inaugural edition of the new art and tech fair was a hit with Silicon Valley.

Booths at the inaugural edition of If So, What? Photo: Victor Bittorf. Courtesy of If So, What?

This weekend, the first edition of If So, What?, a new fair dedicated to the intersection of art and technology, took place in San Francisco.

Dozens of galleries from both the fine art and design worlds set up shop in the Palace of Fine Arts alongside a bevy of tech-themed installations, such as an augmented reality digital sculpture garden and a virtual showroom that included works by Paul McCarthy and Nikita Shalenny. A multimedia work created by recent Cal Arts grads in conjunction with Porsche also drew a great deal of attention. The installation featured a model of a Porsche car with fluctuating fragments of color moving over it. When people around the world—or at the fair itself—tweeted the tags #Porsche, #CalArts, or #ifsowhat in tweets, the graphics on the car changed.

Porsche Art Media Installation. Photo: Victor Bittorf. Courtesy of If So, What?

If So, What? is the latest example of the art world trying to tap into the tech sector—something that other fairs, such as UNTITLED and FOG Art + Design, have accomplished with varying levels of success in recent years. The achievements of If So, What in that area won’t fully be understood until the fair has been around for a couple of years. However, it seems as if it’s off to a good start. The fair noted several key sales, including one that symbolized the event as a whole.

The event’s signature moment occurred less than a half an hour into the opening, when a sculpture by conceptual Irish artist Kevin Abosch sold for $400,000 to the former COO of Skype, Michael Jackson. Abosch’s work, a 10-foot-long yellow neon sculpture, is titled YELLOW LAMBO—a reference to #lambo, a phrase cryptocurrency traders use online to talk about chasing wealth. It features 42 illuminated alphanumeric characters that signify the contract address for a new crypto-token—called YLAMBO—created by the artist.

Kevin Abosch, YELLOW LAMBO (2018). Photo: Victor Bittorf. Courtesy of If So, What?

YELLOW LAMBO…perfectly distills the emotionally charged activity of a particular group of cryptocurrency traders who use ‘#lambo’ as a declaration, not just for their desire to own such a fine motorcar, but as a way to communicate their own acknowledgement of how crazy the quest for crypto-billions has become,” said Abosch in a statement. “I use proxies as emotional distillates. If the Lamborghini is a symbol of success-identity, then the car itself is a proxy. The crypto-token YLAMBO is a proxy of a proxy. Finally, YELLOW LAMBO in all its neon splendor is yet another proxy—triple-distilled value.”

Fittingly—given the context of the event—the price fetched by Abosch’s sculpture is more than that of an actual yellow Lamborghini.

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