One of the big trends in Web3 in 2023 has been the rise of memecoins, cryptocurrencies also known as “shitcoins” that are themed around a viral internet trend. Their lighthearted nature is only part of their appeal; with enough momentum surrounding them, they can bring in serious profits for early buyers due to their extreme volatility.
One of the most successful memecoins to break onto the scene in recent weeks was $TURBO, an experimental project by the digital artist Rhett Dashwood (Mankind) that, at its height, had a market cap of $50 million. Dashwood had created the token from scratch with the help of ChatGPT and advice from his Twitter followers. Its success earned Dashwood respect amongst $TURBO holders and the wider Web3 community alike for his creativity and willingness to build with his community.
On June 1, Dashwood announced his next experimental project: an endeavor to create either a new $1 billion crypto token or NFT artwork. As a result, he’s facing some pointed criticisms from the same community that lauded him for his work with $TURBO. Here’s what you need to know about $CLOWN.
$CLOWN has entered the chat
“The circus is in town,” Dashwood wrote in a Tweet announcing the experiment before providing his followers an address to send ETH. “We’re all clowns. Enjoy the show. As an art/ai/social experiment I’ve asked ChatGPT if it can create a billion $ coin or artwork.”
1/8$CLOWN or Crypto Clown art. The circus is in town. We're all clowns. Enjoy the show. As an art/ai/social experiment I've asked ChatGPT if it can create a billion $ coin or artwork. 🤡🖼️💰 follow along 👇— Rhett Mankind (@rhett) June 1, 2023
Make sure to read the whole thread before sending ETH to: clownbag.eth pic.twitter.com/DJn3yRZRk0
Apart from the token’s intrinsic value, whatever that turns out to be, the only utility it will have is to bid on a piece of crypto art depicting a clown. Dashwood’s conceptual framing here is to confront people with a choice between art and money. The choice of the clown theme comes from criticisms Dashwood has received over the months for working in the NFT space and with crypto tokens.
“I’ve heard countless times, I’m a clown for selling digital art, a clown for doing crypto, a clown for using AI, a clown for creating a token, so I either embrace the clown or fear it forever,” Dashwood elaborated in his Twitter thread.
Those interested in participating in the experiment have a week to send their ETH to an address Dashwood provided in the Twitter thread and receive an “equitable split” of the token supply based on the ETH percentage of the total volume received. At some point in the project, there will be a 1/1 art auction of clown-themed art that $CLOWN holders can use their tokens to bid on.
Dashwood says the experiment is entirely decentralized, with no websites or social pages to speak of, and that he will not withhold any amount of the tokens. “Expect absolutely nothing of me after release,” he said of the experiment.
It’s that last bit regarding expectations that seems to have earned Dashwood the ire of some of his followers. This is partially due to the emergence of another recent trend in the Web3 landscape in which social media influencers ask their followers to send them money for either a shady memecoin offering or, in some cases, absolutely nothing in return.
Some of these efforts have seen influencers earn millions in a few days, souring artists (and their collectors) in the Web3 space who have spent months or years working to provide value to the digital art ecosystem and be properly compensated for doing so.
Sold all of my turbo after seeing this tbh— DeeZe (@DeeZe) June 1, 2023
Up overall but a sizeable L on the DCA stack https://t.co/n85EOToyBs
In a bold display of committing to the bit, Dashwood has been responding to people’s criticisms with a variety of clown-centric GIFs. However, not all of Dashwood’s followers criticized the idea, with several wishing the artist luck with the experiment.
$CLOWN, $TURBO, and memecoin empires
Dashwood is certainly capable of pulling off a large-scale conceptual experiment like this, as evidenced by his success with $TURBO, a project he has since handed over to the community that helped build it. The artist’s ability to play with new technology and trends is precisely what made $TURBO fun to watch. As Dashwood leans into tricky optics in his latest experiment, it will require a deft touch to avoid being lumped into the same category as someone like Ben.eth, who recently launched his third crypto token in nearly as many weeks.