Whitehot Magazine

Dave Krugman On Decentralizing Digital Media And Becoming A Sovereign Entity

Dave Krugman, Neo Noir New York: Nexus. Courtesy of the artist.


Dave Krugman, known for his signature style of street photography, has been interested in taking photos since he was in elementary school. “I walked into this red lit dark room and I was watching people put paper into developer,” he says. “Then, these images started appearing and it was the closest thing to magic I’ve seen in my life. This is amazing. I was hooked.” Fortunately, his family were veterans of the craft, owning a considerable library of Leicas and other equipment to back his budding passion. "My grandfather collected cameras and had a darkroom in his house with my father,” he says. “I was definitely born into the right circumstances.” 

Krugman delights in his desire to connect his lived-in interests with technology of the present time. He decidedly professes that photography and NFTs are “a perfect marriage,” as the two are “inextricably tied to time.” From his photo onboarding to the edge of art and technology, Krugman remains cognizant of these moments in time that have patterns and hold different meanings, brought on by his innately observant quality that bridges the gap between the two disciplines. He goes on to say, “The photographer’s task is to observe all of those overlaps and fluctuations. This is the moment that I want to present to the wider world.” Krugman discusses the conflation between photos and blockchain technology. “My true passion and minting on the blockchain is my street photography. It’s ‘the decisive moment,’ a term Henri Cartier-Bresson coined. The question ‘How do you freeze time at the confluence of different circumstances?’ has always been interesting to me.” 

Krugman further discusses the inherent relationship between photography and NFTs, “You can even think of a roll of film as a block on the chain. You can never go back and re-create those moments, it is totally unique. There’s the sense that you can’t go back and mint a different block or moment. The value of those blocks and tokens are kind of determined by a decentralized consensus as are the images that we value as a society.” In so many ways, the promise of cryptocurrency’s premise to decentralize the banks can potentially apply to conglomerated or gatekept media on a macro level, as well. 

Dave Krugman, Neo Noir Taiwan: Social. Courtesy of the artist.

To bring about this potential is understanding what is important about re-distributing the current power dynamics in the creative community and the world at large. Krugman states, “The temptation with technology is to stay comfortable with the status quo. The thing about NFTs is that Web3 and blockchain technology are brand new, something we haven’t seen before. It’s not valuable just because it’s an NFT. Rather, it’s an entry on an open ledger. If you think about ownership, it’s all tracked on some sort of a closed ledger. It’s an abstraction or idea. Ownership itself only works because of a consensus mechanism. An NFT is a more efficient and less fakable ledger. NFTs can be a capture mechanism for community capital and thus, you can be compensated for your contribution to the creative community.” 

While the nature of NFTs is complex, Krugman asserts that the best way to learn is to simply participate. “That’s how I’ve learned about the space, getting in rooms with other curious like-minded artists. What are we building? How do we want to be? It’s a mutual space. There’s something for everyone. It’s a many sums game. It’s time to re-negotiate our relationship with the internet.” 

As for the wary, Krugman insists that “it is not replacing art–it’s another layer that we can add to further enhance the experience of ownership and interconnected communities of artists and collectors.” 

Dave Krugman, Neo Noir New York: Reveries. Courtesy of the artist.

Ultimately, Krugman’s success in NFTs is entirely homegrown. He founded and funded ALLSHIPS which he created for the benefit of others to learn. “I started writing about my favorite artists in the space, as a service to the community to learn more about it,” he says. With that, he’s been able to garner even more knowledge about it and access opportunities as they arise. He’s not only investing his capital but also his wealth of information to advance the art world in a way that hasn’t been fully realized. Krugman continues, “We have these new technologies, it’s a step in the right direction, but we’re very much in the old world still. Web3 is a giant step forward, in terms of the communities that drive value for these online economies can now participate in the equity of that.” 

NFTs are the frontier in media. The technology opens accessibility and ownership to those who have not previously been able to collect art.  “I’m now a more sovereign person. Smart contracts can remove the middlemen from the equation. It can happen in the blink of an eye. We know historically markets move in the direction of the path of least resistance. The traders can’t compete with the algorithms anymore.”  

Krugman goes on to say that NFTs can help erode the stereotypes of “starving artist culture.” “The fact that we have resale royalties built into the smart contracts is a profound change. We’re seeing artists profit from their output within their own lifetimes, and we’re living through the greatest transfer of wealth into the creative class in human history. It’s also a system that rewards your contributions to the community. If you provide value before you ask for value, you’ll never have to ask.”

At a time that is both uncertain and unpredictable, it’s easy to want to hold onto what we know and the things that have worked in the past. But given the fact that the future of humanity has always relied on the motion of moving forward, allow Krugman and his contemporaries in the space to guide the way. Krugman signs off with a positive note to incite hope: “I’m very keen to see the changes in the world when you give the artists—the most empathetic and most curious  people—this ability to enact change.” NFTs, of course, are a tool for said individuals to finally have the power to do so. 

Krugman will have a solo Nifty Gateway drop in the evening on January 15, 2022. 

To learn more about Dave Krugman, please visit here. WM

Mariepet Mangosing

Mariepet Mangosing is a bi-coastal writer and graphic designer from Jersey City. She has worked in brand packaging, web and print design for the past decade. Her feature length screenplay The Batholiths has been shortlisted in the Macro x Blacklist Feature Screenwriting Incubator program. In her work, she advocates mental wellness and accurate cultural representation in film, television and other media. She examines relationship dynamics through a first-generation immigrant lens. She has her BA in Visual Communications from Ramapo College of New Jersey and is an MFA candidate in Screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University.

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