Hiding in Plain Sight

Simon Denny

b. 1982, Auckland, New Zealand
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Simon Denny’s Backdated NFT/ Cryptokitty Display Hardware Wallet Replica (Celestial Cyber Dimension) (2018/2019/2021) is a single work of dual nature, both a physical object and a digital non-fungible token, or NFT. Reimagining an earlier work, this sculpture responds to the emergence of the cyber and crypto worlds’ connections with Conceptual art and Duchampian gestures in a new invisible interface. Denny's first NFT featured an image of a cardboard replica of the cyber wallet in the first art house auction sale of an NFT in 2018. This new NFT and its accompanying souvenir object include an image of the same cardboard replica, this time physically stamped with an image of a previous artwork made by the artist—a postage stamp featuring an appropriation of image by artist Guile Twardowski.

Simon Denny, Backdated NFT/ Cryptokitty Display Hardware Wallet Replica (Celestial Cyber Dimension), 2018, 2019, 2021, jpeg, Cardboard, UV print on cardboard, Non-fungible token (NFT), 3-15/16" × 2-3/8" × 2-3/4" (10 cm × 6 cm × 7 cm)

An NFT is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger called a blockchain—this certifies a digital asset as one-of-a-kind and therefore not interchangeable. Denny’s work challenges notions of uniqueness, which the art world so heavily relies on. As Denny has explained, Backdated NFT/ Cryptokitty Display Hardware Wallet Replica (Celestial Cyber Dimension) acts as a parasite within the realm of emergent crypto art. In hijacking an existing token by replacing its image, the work exposes a technical reality of the format: the assets linked with many NFTs, claiming to be immutable, are in fact not stored on the blockchain, but are linked from their blockchain entry to sites on the open web, and are therefore alterable. By being minted as an NFT, the artwork not only goes back in time on the blockchain, but specifically journeys to the year of its ostensible meeting with Satoshi, the defacto creator of the crypto universe.”