A Call for Decentralization for the Future of NFTs
- Forward by EggPhunk
- The CryptoPhunks origin
- The First week of Phunk
- Principles for the future
This manifesto was originally published on July 11, 2021. It was written by the CryptoPhunks dev team — later revealed to be led by ZAGABOND, the creator of the Azuki project — and some prominent community members at that time. I am republishing it here because the original post has since been deleted by ZAGABOND, but I was able to grab the text before it was. Although these words were published by the scammers that rugged the project, I believe they are an important part of the history of the CryptoPhunks story. The CryptoPhunks Manifesto is presented below in its original form, with no edits made at all.
Part I: Flipping off the Punks — Origins
The last four years have brought us technologies that facilitate decentralized transactions between users through digital means. These technologies have brought together individuals that are deeply concerned with the dark side of opaque, centralized organizations.
With these same technologies, the community has seen a massive rise in trading volume ($13.7M in first half of 2020 to $2.5B in first half of 2021) of art in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This movement has created many niche communities of enthusiastic, first time art owners, while also inevitably creating elite clubs for the more expensive projects.
The early purpose of CryptoPhunks was to poke fun at the high-brow, pompous group of people that were reflecting the “old-school” rules of art into this new frontier of NFTs. CryptoPhunks wanted to test these limits of “parody” and bias against centralized marketplaces, of provenance on the blockchain, censorship, while also setting out to unite strangers and collectors from around the space.
Part II: OpenSea Phucks the Phunks — History
OpenSea, an NFT marketplace, set a precedent of centralized decision making by delisting Phunks not once (June 21st), but twice (June 24th). The Phunk community took swift action to declare for transparency and justice. This included a saga of social media activity between Nate Chastain (Head of Product) and others at OpenSea. Note: these executives all had an OG Punk profile avatar. This battle with OpenSea was a defining moment for our community. By owning a CryptoPhunk, you will forever commemorate this ongoing fight against centralization. So how did things go down exactly?
First: we tried to engage civilly with OpenSea to figure out the issue of being delisted and we came to dead ends. They have a walled garden, we were not allowed in.
Then: we looked back through our communications and website to try to spot any issues with the project. Are we too trolly? Others are the same. Are we too similar to OG Punks? Well, art is derivative, and we are a parody. No one who had minted a Phunk on our website reported an issue of believing these were real Punks.
So we asked OpenSea, what’s the issue? Have we chosen friends of yours to parody? Why have you decided to have the last word on what’s parody or not rather than allowing the community to speak for themselves? Does this not conflict with the ethos of a decentralized marketplace? How can you advertise yourselves as “the largest decentralized NFT marketplace” when you are acting as a centralized authority? Are your corporate owners complaining that if Larva Labs is not the poster child for Sothebys they will pull funding? Who is pulling the strings?
From a third party perspective, this mimicked the same arbitrary policies that could be seen on other centralized platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, and Twitch.
CryptoPhunks saw an immense amount of support from the collectors and the rest of the NFT community while dealing with this second delisting. This unprecedented decision by OpenSea opened the door for a plethora of other hypothetical questions about the platform: What if OpenSea decides your art is NSFW? What if they don’t agree with your project’s politics? Will they delist art that supports controversial activists? Will they continue to delist smaller projects than ours? (OpenSea already had a track record of delisting smaller alt punk projects, see DerpPunks as one example).
These policies stifle innovation. The Phunk’s concept is around “flipping” artwork that has already been created, while the rest of the experience was created completely from the ground up. We made our own website. We wrote our own contracts. We created unique minting animations for every flip. Each Phunk was hand-flipped by Philip the intern, his poor hands required much more hand lotion than you’d think.
We believe that (Punks) (and now) PHUNKS are made for everyone. We are committed now more than ever to challenge OpenSea and any other organization that stands in the way of decentralization in the NFT space.
Part III: The Flippening Manifesto — Future
The Phunks are marching forward to defend decentralization. We take up the following principles as a manifesto of our intent:
- We cannot expect governments, corporations or other large, faceless organizations to grant us privacy out of their beneficence.
- We know these organizations benefit when they decide what is art for us, and we should expect that they will decide for us if we don’t act.
- We must defend our own freedom of expression if we expect to have any.
- We must create our own communities and connections if we expect to have any.
- We are for an art that embroils itself with the everyday crap and still comes out on top.
- We are for all art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.
- We must come together and create systems which allow anonymous transactions to take place. People have been defending their own freedom of expression for centuries with whispers, darkness, envelopes, closed doors, secret handshakes and couriers.
- The technologies of the past did not allow for strong freedom of expression, but electronic technologies do.
- We the Phunks are dedicated to building real and vibrant communities around art that we love.
- We are defending the decentralization of art by congregating, building each other up, and speaking truth to centralized powers.
- We don’t much care if you approve of the art we make.
- We know that art, in the form of NFTs, can’t be destroyed and that a strong enough community can’t be shut down.
Eric Hughes writes (Cypherpunk manifesto):
”We cannot expect governments, corporations or other large, faceless organizations to grant us privacy out of their beneficence. It is to their advantage to speak of us, and we should expect that they will speak. To try to prevent their speech is to fight against the realities of information. Information does not just want to be free, it longs to be free. Information expands to fill the available storage space. Information is Rumor’s younger, stronger cousin; Information is fleeter of foot, has more eyes, knows more, and understands less than Rumor. We must defend our own privacy if we expect to have any. We must come together and create systems which allow anonymous transactions to take place. People have been defending their own privacy for centuries with whispers, darkness, envelopes, closed doors, secret handshakes and couriers. The technologies of the past did not allow for strong privacy, but electronic technologies do. We the Cypherpunks are dedicated to building anonymous systems. We are defending our privacy with cryptography, with anonymous mail-forwarding systems, with digital signatures, and with electronic money … We don’t much care if you approve of the software we write. We know that software can’t be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can’t be shut down.”
I Am for an Art: Claes Oldenburg on His 1961 “Ode to Possibilities”
I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum.
I am for an art that grows up not knowing it is art at all, an art given the chance of having a starting point of zero.
I am for an art that embroils itself with the everyday crap and still comes out on top.
I am for an art that imitates the human, that is comic, if necessary, or violent, or whatever is necessary.
I am for all art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.