• ‘Double Eleven 2021: Common Prosperity’ — how an NFT project investigates the dominance of Chinese tech giants

  • ROK uses a decentralized format in a 48-second computer-generated 3D animation to offer an ironic take on China’s internet giants crowding to host the shopping holiday.

    On the day of the Double 11 (Nov. 11) shopping festival, as China’s e-commerce giants engaged in a frenzy of flash sales and bargains, a three-member NFT creative team named ROK made its debut onto its own digital stage, mirroring the consumer drama — in a decentralized, ironically humorous way.

    “Double Eleven 2021: Common Prosperity,” an NFT project launched by ROK on November 11, made references to internet memes, rumors, and conspiracy theories that have circulated on the Chinese internet over the last decade. Sly references include Jack Ma’s previous life as a teacher before establishing the Alibaba empire, as well as Tencent founder Huateng Ma’s English name “Pony.”

    The NFT series alludes to the vast power of China’s tech titans in a 48-second computer-generated 3D animation.

    “Many internet companies have participated in this festival, making it one of the fierce battlegrounds of the Chinese internet industry, as well as a perfect source of artistic inspiration,” ROK said on OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace.

    The “Double Eleven 2021: Common Prosperity” series celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Double 11 shopping festival, which began in 2009. The NFT depicts four animated animals blowing out the candles on a birthday cake in turn. Each animal figure represents the mascot of one of China’s four major internet companies: Alibaba-owned TMall’s cat, Pingduoduo’s chicken, JD.com’s dog, and Tencent’s penguin.

    “In the NFT series, decentralization becomes a metaphor by symbolizing these technology giants blowing candles as a ‘feast,’ and it will become a’swan song,'” Gu Zhenqing, a Beijing-based NFT curator, said over the phone.

    “People can be both users and shareholders in a decentralized community.” But, in the face of these tech behemoths becoming more centralized, we are simply data contributors,” he added.

    Gu explained some of the series’ social commentary imagery: the yellow helmets beneath the stage floor represent “those working-class people who are the cornerstone of common prosperity,” but they were trampled on by internet behemoths. Meanwhile, the birthday cake’s pacifier shape refers to the term “tittytainment,” which refers to low-cost and vulgar entertainment content that is “easy to satisfy.”

    Using the NFT’s decentralized format to reflect on the irony of these internet giants rushing to host the shopping festivals, ROK incorporates China’s top theme of 2021 “common prosperity,” which encourages large businesses and entrepreneurs to help improve wealth inequality.

    “On a stage full of rumors and smokescreens, capital magnates stepped on the working class and competed with each other for something nihilistic, but this was dubbed ‘common prosperity!'” ROK stated in its job description.

    According to Gu, the first version of the “Double Eleven 2021: Common Prosperity” series cost $100,000. He plans to invite ROK to an upcoming NFT exhibit he will curate in Wuhan next May.

    “The parallel topic of ‘Double Eleven 2021’ and ‘Common Prosperity’ really raises a question for the public: does Double-11 represent the vision of “common prosperity,” or is it drifting away from it? Gu stated.

    “In the future, every detail in an NFT piece should have a meaningful context.” He went on to say, “It’s a cultural gene.”

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