A New Zealand auction house recently sold NFTs for two glass plate negatives featuring artist Charles Goldie. In addition to the NFTs, the lot also included a contact print, the original glass plate negative, and a small brass hammer. The auction house encouraged the purchasers to use the hammer to smash the original glass plate negative and make the image permanently digital.
Digitization has created many new opportunities for not only preservation but, more importantly, access to historic collections. Collections of glass plate negatives are unbelievably heavy. Yet each plate, while incredibly fragile, is also remarkably resilient. As long as the plate itself is intact, one can reproduce the image it contains over again over again.
This is why the museum curator in me is so disappointed to hear a company encourage people to destroy the original negative. Yes, it is the buyer’s property, to do with as they wish. But so much of history is deliberately destroyed by those seeking to erase history. And since NFTs are a relatively new phenomenon, we have no idea of their longevity.
You can read the original article at https://hyperallergic.com/708792/auction-house-sells-glass-negatives-as-nfts-tells-buyers-to-smash-the-originals/.