Kyle McDonald: Amends
Gray Area Releases Three Sculptures by Kyle McDonald on Foundation, OpenSea and Rarible in Project That Aims to Mitigate NFT Marketplace Emissions for $24M


San Francisco, California (September 15, 2022) -- Gray Area is pleased to announce Amends, the latest project by artist Kyle McDonald. Gray Area will auction three NFTs and accompanying sculptures by McDonald, the proceeds from which will pay to mitigate the historical emissions of three major art NFT marketplaces: Foundation, OpenSea, and Rarible. The project will be released on each of these platforms and will be accompanied by three physical sculptures, one for each platform, that are both digital renders and physical handcrafted glass blocks filled with a material used for carbon removal and prevention. To mitigate the share of emissions from these NFT marketplaces, McDonald has partnered with three environmental organizations: Nori, Tradewater, and Project Vesta, each of whom are committed to carbon removal.

The release of these artworks is timed with the completion of a more energy efficient upgrade to the Ethereum network known as “the merge”, coming online after more than eight years of planning. The original Ethereum network was energy intensive, with millions of dedicated computers all over the world running at full power 24/7 to process around 15 Ethereum transactions per second. This upgrade will result in a 99.95% reduction in Ethereum’s energy consumption, and offer this opportunity to offset the historic carbon emissions from these NFT platforms built on top of Ethereum.

McDonald says, “The science shows that even if we end all emissions today, we still need to remove hundreds of billions of tons of historical greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and ocean. In tech the motto is ‘move fast and break things’, but those broken pieces are haunting us. Changing things going forward isn’t enough. This work represents a major opportunity to take responsibility for a small portion of our impact on the environment.”

The auctions will be facilitated by Gray Area, with current reserve prices totaling $24M USD, and each work ranging from $600k to $22M USD, corresponding to the 25,000 tons of CO2 to 1M tons of CO2 emitted by each marketplace. These emissions estimates are based on over a year of research led by McDonald: studying the efficiency of Ethereum network, the location of the computers, the energy mix of different regions, and different models of emissions responsibility assignment. His work represents the first comprehensive bottom-up estimate of Ethereum’s energy and emissions, and has been widely accepted by energy experts and the crypto community alike.

“NFTs have allowed artists who have been creating digital work for decades to find widespread interest from collectors for the first time. But, it is of existential importance for us to understand the real world social and environmental impacts of all the technologies we use,” said Gray Area Executive Director Barry Threw. “We’re proud to support artists who are trying to understand deeply what those costs and benefits are in order to build towards a more equitable and sustainable future.”

The digital work consists of videos produced in collaboration with artist Robert Hodgin, and the physical work consists of handcrafted blown glass by Kazuki Takazawa. Each carbon removal organization has provided a different material for the glass blocks. From Nori, carbon-rich soil; from Project Vesta, olivine sand; and from Tradewater, shredded refrigerant canisters. The physical work will be revealed a month after launch. In order to receive the physical sculpture, a collector will be required to “burn” their NFT—renouncing their ownership of the digital work in return for the physical work.

Nori is a crypto-native marketplace for carbon removal currently working with farmers to capture carbon in soil using regenerative agriculture. Industrial agriculture releases carbon from the soil, but techniques like no-till and cover crops can sink a ton or more of CO2 per acre while restoring soil health.

Tradewater is identifying, collecting, and destroying the greenhouse gases found inside rusting refrigerant canisters before they have the chance to leak into the atmosphere and warm the planet. The refrigerants they destroy are ten thousand times more potent than CO2, and there are around 9,000 million tons of CO2e stored in rusting canisters around the world.

Project Vesta is developing Coastal Carbon Capture, a process that works by dissolving olivine, a natural volcanic mineral, into sea water. When it dissolves, olivine captures CO2 and de-acidifies sea water. Project Vesta is speeding up this process, which typically takes millions of years, to occur over mere decades—in hopes to scale up and capture a significant percentage of CO2 emissions and mitigate ocean acidification.

“Amends” is now live on OpenSea, Rarible, and Foundation. McDonald plans to eventually expand beyond NFT platforms, addressing the historical emissions of the entire Ethereum blockchain—currently around 16 million tons of CO2.

For more information, please visit https://amends.eco

About Kyle McDonald

Kyle McDonald is an artist working with code based in Los Angeles. He crafts interactive installations, sneaky interventions, playful websites, workshops, and toolkits for other artists. Exploring possibilities of new technologies: to understand how they affect society, to misuse them, and build alternative futures; aiming to share a laugh, spark curiosity, create confusion, and share spaces with magical vibes. Working with machine learning, computer vision, social and surveillance tech spanning commercial and arts spaces. Previously adjunct professor at NYU's ITP, member of F.A.T. Lab, community manager for openFrameworks, and artist in residence at STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at CMU, and YCAM in Japan. His work is commissioned and shown internationally, including the V&A, NTT ICC, Ars Electronica, Sónar, Todays Art, Mass MoCA, and Eyebeam.

About Gray Area

Gray Area is a San Francisco-based nonprofit cultural center that advances interdisciplinary research and empowers education in creative technology. We support interdisciplinary creators in building the future of responsible technology and propelling positive social transformation. Since its founding in 2008, Gray Area has established itself as a critical hub for learning in the Bay Area, while also reaching a global community through online courses and programming.

We provide free programming, workshops, and resources to support greater access and visibility for underrepresented creators as they approach today’s most pressing social, civic, and environmental concerns. Gray Area Festival, which has been held annually since 2015, offers a space for deeper engagement with topics around art, technology, and social impact. Through our incubators, residencies, and rotating schedule of public events, Gray Area helps inspire, nurture, and share groundbreaking research and emerging creative practices.

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