The Value of Life: Blockchain Art by Kevin Abosch and Ai Weiwei

Kevin Abosch is still trapped under the spell of the Blockchain. With his project I AM A COIN, he already used the concept of tokenization to illuminate the social value determination of the artwork and the individual. With the Chinese artist in exile Ai Weiwei, Abosch has now found a prominent brother in spirit to once again ask questions about the nature of identity and the value of a life in the age of digitalization – especially in the light of the global refugee crises. For their project „PRICELESS“, the two artists made use of the Ethereum blockchain – including a new ERC-20 token.

One of the core functions of money is that of the unit of account. Only through the possibility of dividing money into smaller denominations is it possible to attribute a monetary value to things. But the concept of value overstretches the concept of cryptosoft money at the latest when it comes to life itself. How much is a human life worth? How can it be justified that, on the one hand, the stock exchanges of this world record record runs, while, on the other hand, people are driven out of their homeland, rejected at borders, drowned in the Mediterranean?

Cryptosoft on the run

Abosch are drifting these questions about cryptosoft around. A society’s habit of assigning value to people can have devastating consequences: „From the moment we enter this world, there are those who try to attribute value to us. They will say: ‚The boy over there is full of potential‘ or: ‚The girl is worthless‘. In fact, history shows that entire communities and ethnicities have been so devalued that it has even paved the way for genocide.“

A descendant of Auschwitz inmates, Abosch has great empathy for people who have to flee violence and oppression. In particular, the disastrous situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar has led him to seek collaboration with Ai Weiwei. In his 2017 documentary „Human Flow“, Ai Weiwei last took on the refugee issue in 23 countries. Being on the run – Ai knows this situation from his own experience.

„Because my father, Ai Qing, was then China’s most famous poet, the government made an example of him. In 1958, my family was expelled from our house in Beijing and banished to the most remote part of the country – we had no idea that this was the beginning of a very dark, long journey that would take two decades, he betrayed to the Guardian in February.

But even in later years the artist had to struggle with oppression by the Chinese state. Which is why, after a long wait for an exit permit, he made Berlin his adopted city in 2015.

What is „priceless“ for a crypto trader?

As perfidious as the idea of putting a crypto trader price tag on a human life may be, Abosch has observed that for some the talk of the pricelessness of a life primarily concerns their own and their next of kin: „While I regard every human life as priceless, it seems that some people can only refer to their own lives or the lives of their friends and families in this way, is what the homepage of the PRICELESS project says. Together with Ai, Abosch tries to sensitize people who think in materialistic categories to the question of „pricelessness“.

„We say that an old artefact is also priceless, but certainly not as priceless as human life, right? Society has a complicated relationship to what is priceless.“

Freely following the motto „Tokenize ALL the things“, Ai and Abosch decided to quantify the supposedly priceless by means of tokenization and thus make it purchasable.

For sale: priceless moments
The PRICELESS token (PRCLS) programmed into life for this purpose enables the buyer interested in art to literally „share“ private moments of Ai and Abosch. These „priceless moments“ include experiences such as „a carefree walk through Schönhauser Allee“ or drinking tea together. These fleeting moments may seem banal, but for Ai WeiWei and Abosch they are basic elements of the Conditio Humana. That is why every moment in life is priceless.

Each of these priceless moments is represented by an address on the Ethereum Blockchain. Because on each of these addresses there is a small amount of PRCLS tokens. The clou: Only two PRCLS tokens were created. In addition, one of the two tokens should not be for sale at any time.

„Only two ERC-20 tokens were created for the project e