“Let’s Get Digital!”: Interview with Serena Tabacchi, MoCDA director

NFTs and Crypto Art are the highlights of “Let’s Get Digital!”, the exhibition about the digital revolution in the art world hosted at Palazzo Strozzi.

Curated by Director Arturo Galansino and Serena Tabacchi, the exhibition aims to create a connection between the audience and the most recent evolution of digital art.

Entrepreneur, curator and writer Serena Tabacchi is the director of MoCDA, the Museum of Contemporary Digital Art. The Editorial staff of I’M Firenze Digest has recently had the opportunity to ask her some questions about the revolution of NFTs, their sustainability, and their impact on the new generations of artists.   


By Viola Pinori. Cover image: Beeple (Mike Winkelmann), Everydays: BULL RUN, 2020. Video files (NFT). RFC Collection – Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile & Desiree Casoni. Courtesy of the artist

I’MF: “Let’s Get Digital!” is one of the first and most comprehensive exhibitions dedicated to the NFTs revolution in Italy. When did you first learn about NFTs?

ST: I learned about NFTs back in 2017-2018, and I was very fascinated by the potential of this technology at first. Not just for the art sector, but more in general for how we share our data and life experiences. Art was one of the first fields applied to NFTs alongside the financial sector, followed by gaming, fashion, music and, more recently, the metaverse. It’s a new paradigm that helps creatives work more independently and create a community for themselves. For this reason, I was always fascinated by it. Because it changes how art and culture circulate and get appreciated. 

I’MF: Recently, some doubts have been raised about the sustainability of NFTs, especially when we talk about their production process and carbon footprint. Can you share your views on this issue?

ST: This industry has indeed caused a lot of interest, so the increase of artists and collectors has impacted energy consumption. That said, we should be mindful of the actual developments of this technology and what platforms and enterprises are doing to reduce their carbon footprint. Currently, global air conditioning consumes sixteen times more than the blockchain itself [https://www.lavoce.info/archives/93103/blockchain-quanto-pesa-il-consumo-di-energia/ ].

Refik Anadol, Machine Hallucinations – Renaissance Dreams (2022), site-specific installation, Palazzo Strozzi courtyard. AI Data Sculpture, Video loop, LED wall. Courtesy of RAS – Refik Anadol Studio. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO studio

The so-called proof-of-work,the process behind the traditional blockchain system (Bitcoin, Ethereum), uses computational power to perform any action, like mining a block on the chain or creating an NFT. With the surge of new systems to govern block creation, the proof-of-stake method can drastically reduce energy consumption thanks to a governance system based on the staking of tokens (power) instead of computational work as a control source.

My hope for the future is to encourage the tech community and big corporations to develop and adopt more sustainable solutions to continue evolving and endorsing a responsible use of NFTs, which are definitely here to stay. See current projects built on Tezos, Algorand and Polygon for green/greener chains solutions and art projects.  

Daniel Arsham, Eroding and Reforming Bust of Rome (One Year), 2021. NFT single-channel video with sound. Courtesy of the artist RFC Collection – Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile & Desiree Casoni

I’MF: “NFT”, “blockchain”, “Crypto Art ”… These are the keywords that define this exhibition and that, however, are not entirely familiar to everyone. How do you think the audience will react to such an original lexicon? 

ST: These words may be unknown to many, but they are becoming more and more familiar to most of us… The way art tells us about a new future, merged with technology, is nothing new to us. Leonardo, for instance, was a painter and a scientist; his works embed many references.

The same goes for NFTs; whether the aesthetics can be challenging at times, the pieces are often available to the audience as a gateway to a new reality closely linked to the current state-of-the-art. I expect the audience to enter the show with an open mind, ready to learn new things in an engaging environment

Krista Kim, Mars House, 2020. 3D files (NFT). Music: Jeff Schroeder. Courtesy of Krista Kim Studio. Collection AOI Vault

I’MF: Thanks to NFTs, many contemporary digital artists have had the chance to affirm themselves and showcase their works. Do you think younger generations will be able to do the same?

ST: I believe so. This tech is definitely here to stay, and it’s becoming more accessible and sustainable. Younger generations are already familiar with the concept of digital NFTs concerning art or other types of assets. Institutions are playing a vital role in endorsing and educating around those concepts.

The real challenge will be when everybody makes NFTs, and the demand will be insufficient to sustain the market. Mastering the tools, creativity and talent will always emerge and be noticed by the critical mass of art lovers.

Serena Tabacchi is the Director of MocDA, the Museum of Contemporary Digital Art.
Viola Pinori is an undergraduate student of Arts Curating at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.

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