Checking Out 'Checks VV', Jack Butcher's Exploration of Social Status and Motivation in the NFT Space

In 2022, Elon Musk purchased Twitter, which has an active user base of 368 million accounts, and his first move was to change the way the social media platform verifies its users. The traditional "lords and peasants" system of verifying users was dismantled and replaced with a more decentralized approach, allowing users to purchase blue checkmark status for $8 a month. This change in verification methods raised questions about centralized authorities in the internet era, which leads artist, designer, and Twitter Blue Subscriber, Jack Butcher to create Checks VV, an innovative NFT project.

Checks VV by Jack Butcher

What is Checks VV?

Checks VV is a thought-provoking exploration of social status and motivation in an online world that began as a social commentary artwork. It features a visually simple grid of 80 Twitter checkmarks of varying colors and can be seen as a commentary on the idea that verification and notability are now something that can be assigned from the bottom up, and the $8 price tag to buy status. The conceptual roots of Checks VV can be traced back to Butcher's creative agency Visualize Value, which released a 1-of-1 NFT called "NFTs, explained" in March 2021. The project generated nearly 2,000 ETH in secondary sales on OpenSea and saw 16,031 mints in total.

"NFTs, explained." by Visualize Value

The Burn!

Butcher believes that NFTs can go beyond digital collectibles and has developed the concept of "creative destruction", involving a second-phase planned burn dynamic that creates unique and potentially conflicting incentives for holders. Once installed, holders will have the option to burn their NFT to transform it into an on-chain artwork.

Multiple edition holders can partake in the Checks experiment by burning two 80-check pieces to create an artwork with 40 checks. Burning two 40-check pieces results in a 20-check piece, and the process continues until there is a single colored checkmark artwork. This destruction of the original NFT and the addition of unique incentives prompts collectors to engage more deeply with their NFT and consider the possibilities of the blockchain beyond mere image ownership.

Burning Checks progression, courtesy of Jack Butcher's twitter

As collectors progress through the project, they gain more options for creative expression. Jack Butcher is committed to empowering collectors at every stage of the collection's journey, allowing them to experiment with token IDs and color schemes. When collectors burn two pieces to create a new NFT, they must decide which token ID to preserve, revealing which numbers hold significance for them. As the color of the pieces is determined by the tokens that are burned, Butcher anticipates that some collectors may prioritize visual appeal over rarity, creating unique pieces that reflect their personal style akin to a custom PFP.

The project's rarer pieces are expected to generate intense interest, with people forming trustless bodies or DAOs to pool resources and acquire them. "There are murmurs of people interested in putting DAOs together to go after it," Butcher revealed, illustrating the potential for the project to foster a community of passionate collectors.

Future of Checks

Butcher is delighted to see various derivative projects emerging from Checks, as it brings attention to artists and community members who may not have his distribution potential. Together with his Web3 technical team, jalil.eth and traf, Butcher created a page on the official Checks VV website dedicated to these derivative projects.The community surrounding Checks is anticipating the code release that will allow the burning to begin, effectively ushering a new era of community-directed development.

"I love to see how people think about things and how they justify like creative decisions they're making. So I would love to see more of that."

Whether his predictions for the collection will come to fruition remains to be seen, but Butcher has already accomplished what few other projects in the space have attempted: using NFTs to reflect on the internet culture from which they originated while leaving it to the community to shape their future.

“We’re thinking how we can evolve this piece of art to really understand people’s intentions,” Butcher explained. “To reveal something about how people would want to play this game.”

While Butcher is referring specifically to Checks VV, this statement could easily apply to the broader NFT world. Checks VV is a microcosm of the larger ecosystem, encouraging people to think about their actions on every possible level while inviting them to take ownership of the thoughts and behaviors that guide them there. “This artwork may or may not be notable,” Butcher wrote when he released the single artwork open edition that sparked it all. Despite his satirical comment, few would dispute that Checks VV is, indeed, noteworthy, perhaps, historical even. Time will tell.