A young woman on my Facebook page sent up a cheer for the Kodak company recently which puzzled me. The latest news on Kodak was that the New York attorney general was filing papers to charge the company with insider trading. As I write this blog, the stock is selling below $9 per share. In the past, it sold as high as $60.
Founded in the late 1800s, Kodak has had a checkered history, beginning with a near-monopoly in photographic film and equipment and ending in bankruptcy. As a youngster, I remember owning a box camera. I earned it by collecting cereal cartons. Today, the company has graduated to techie stuff like 3-D printers.
Whatever the business, owning stock is risky. Wall Street fortunes rise and fall each day without the predictability of a tide chart. I never count my money safe until it rests quietly in a savings account. Given today’s interest rates, however, savings accounts won’t increase earnings. For that, a person has to take some chances.
Non-fungible tokens (NFT) are all the rage as an investment tool at the moment. These are digital images created for a digital world, artworks or collectibles that people buy on the internet, and the transfer of ownership gets recorded on an electronic ledger. Types of NFTs vary. All NFT owners can view their purchases online, but some artists refuse to allow those images to be printed and turned into hard copies. Says writer Olivia Hosken, the prohibition allows the artwork “to mature with technology.” (The Collector’s Lament,” by Olivia Hosken, Town&Country, Summer 2021, pg. 38.)
NFTs are mumbo-jumbo to me. Owning one may be a good investment, but I can’t see much joy in possessing a jpeg I can’t hang on a wall. Where’s the satisfaction for collectors who love art for itself?
Modern minds have begun to grapple with that question. One answer is the electronic screen, coming soon to a living room or an iPad near you. (Ibid, pg. 38.) One day, they might even appear on refrigerator doors. Grimes, an artist who can’t be bothered with a second name, sells her NFTs for millions of dollars. I doubt she cares where her images reside. A shower wall might do.
Given the trend, a person has to worry about the fate of picture framers. Will their craft one day become a dead art?
Thank heavens for grandparents! They will always demand a frame for their grandchild’s first tree painting. What’s more, that tree will hang in a place of honor, maybe for decades, or until its pigments fade.
Frankly, NFTs are too otherworldly for me. Too fleeting. Too ephemeral. I’ve yet to put my trust in ATMs or smartphones. When it comes to owning artwork, give me something I can dust.