Hackatao, a fiercely rebellious Italian duo composed of Nadia Squarci and Sergio Scarlet, made quite an impression in April of 2018 with their first SuperRare Drop – an animated piece entitled “Girl Next Door”. They have since then become such a foundational element of Crypto Art that we have to proceed here with a slight amount of reverence.
The tag “Surrealist pop”, a potent expression of the disarray of contemporary Aesthetics, a science that has lost its way and which is incapable of speaking about Crypto Art without comfortable references to the past, has often been used to describe their work. However one does really wonder if this characterization is accurate as their work is neither pop nor surrealist.
While there is a large amount of literature covering this Duo, there is a dearth of serious articles written from the point of view of Aesthetics. As we will see below, the labels pop and surrealist are so far off the mark that they actually obfuscate the essence of their work and what their work aims to “bring to light”.
The Core (Kerngehalt) of Hackatao’s work reveals the Essence of the Subject. By revealing the Essence of the Subject, their work satisfies the Phenomenological requirement of a retroversion towards authentic Reality, towards the World that we live in (Lebenswelt) defined as the convergence of our perceptual and conceptual layers.
Do we not know what a Subject is?
Is it not obvious?
Today, the Subject has the “character of what is known” ( A. Riehl’s Charakter der Bekannheit), the “quality of what is known ” (H. Höffding’s Bekannheitsqualität), without being truly known. We presuppose the Subject as “known”, and this is exactly why the essence of the Subject remains unknown to us.
The very notion that we are in possession of the Essence of the Subject is a preposterous idea. This is the reason why Hackatao’s work is a gift. Hackatao’s work presentifies – or, for those who strongly disapprove of impromptu neologisms – “makes present” what is right in front of us yet remains undisclosed and obfuscated.
As we can see below, something is brought to the surface, but perhaps it would be better to write that something “boils up to the surface” and de-monstrates (monstrare) its unrestrained character.
The chaotic combinations of characters, of references and of situations is free-flowing and fluid, however the clear outlines provide structure in a way that prevents what is brought to the surface from leaking out. What was once within now occupies the graphical space created by these outlines. The distinction that we make between outline and content brings to mind the false dichotomy between form and content: the outlines are the form filled by what was once within. In Aesthetics we should obviously be wary and raise eyebrows when such things are written, but this simple dichotomy does provide an entry point into the substance of hackatao’s act of bringing to light the Essence of Subjectivity.
From the point of view of Reception Aesthetics, it’s interesting to see how the eye is led from the deceptively simple outlines to the chaotic “fillings”. The eye is “caught” in this chaotic maze and literally led to explore every single centimeter of the graphical space. These fillings are what we call in reception Aesthetics “Calling Structures” (Appellstruktur in German and Structures d’Appel in French). These structures lead perception, they install the viewer in an immersive sphere in which the structure of the interaction between the viewer and the thing viewed is determined by the thing itself. The viewer is led to see certain aspects of a piece before certain others (the outline before the fillings, for example). Our duo, being classically trained in the Arts and having a deep understanding of Aesthetics, most probably understands this principle and uses it to lead the viewer towards an understanding of the Essence of the Subject.
How do we approach Hackatao as investors and collectors? How should hackatao NFTs be priced? We know that their work is quite rich from an Aesthetic Point of View, however how do they fare on the markets? Understanding how Hackatao NFTs fare on the markets is an absolute requirement if we are to craft a sound trading or holding strategy.
The most expensive Hackatao sale was MOCA and the Bear #1/11 (81K). In the past 30 days, 22 Hackatao NFTs were sold which represents moderate market activity. In the past 30 days, the cheapest Hackatao NFT was sold for 13.4K and the highest sale was for 64K. The median price of an Hackatao NFT was, in the past 30 days, 24.4K.
Hackatao’s most successful sale is, by far, “Kim Jong Un – Dead or Alive Edition”, sold in March 2021. This piece fetched a price of 152 ETH, which is a few standard deviations from the current Median Price of Hackatao pieces.
As we can see on the chart below, the average price for Hackatao NFTs is in the low 5 figure range.
The chart below provides some information on the amount of NFTs sold between July and September 2021. Peaks in July and late August are noticeable and point to either drops or promotional events.
Data gathered from Artcentral.io points to wobbly price action and traders willing to get rid of HackaTao pieces at a loss. The dates attached to sales however (on the right) point to healthy action on secondary marketplaces.
Our preferred strategy given what we have seen in terms of market action is to “flip” Hackatao NFTs: purchase near or at the time of Drop, then hold for a short time and sell at a premium. Holding Hackatao NFTs for a prolonged period of time appears to be a risky strategy here as the behavior of flippers willing to sell at a loss induces clear and present “danger” in the market. While the value of Hackatao NFTs is obvious from an Aesthetic point of view, collectors and investors should proceed with caution and mitigate “flipper risk” by hedging their positions in Hackatao with NFT Blue chips.