2017 NFT Art Project: Is Burning Your NFT True Ownership — Or Just The Ultimate Flex?

Adam McBride
5 min readMay 9, 2021
Digital Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility

NFT archeological digging has turned up another long-forgotten project, and this one has a twist.

This NFT was done by artist Mitchell F Chan who released the official contract on August 29, 2017.

The NFT project is titled ‘Digital Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility” which you can learn more about on Chan’s official website and is based on the work of the famous artist Yves Klein.

Viewing the contract you can see that a small group of collectors began accumulating the NFT beginning on February 6, 2021, years after the initial release.

CryptoPunk Whale Begins Purchasing

The first purchase that happened in February was by this wallet https://etherscan.io/address/0x6301add4fb128de9778b8651a2a9278b86761423

This person currently has 84 CryptoPunks, 6 Autoglyphs, 92 Meebits, 3 of Chan’s Digital Zones NFTs in addition to dozens of other projects. A true collector.

The Projects Unique Qualities

Chan’s NFTs are interesting to collectors for several reasons.

Timing: From a historical perspective, the timing of the contract makes it one of the very first NFTs on the Etherium blockchain, ahead of CryptoKitties by a full three months.

Bonding Curve: I believe that Chan may be the first NFT artist to use a bonding curve for his NFT release.

Chan planned to release the ‘tokens’ or NFTs (remember NFTs was not even an acronym back in 2017) in 7 ‘Series.’ The 0 Series contained 31 NFTs and each subsequent Series has 10 NFTs. For a total of 101 NFTs once all of the Series has been released.

Digital Zones bonding curve pricing

On May 8, 2021, the final NFT of Series 4 sold, which was priced at 1.6 ETH.

Clearly, the prices for later Series begin to get a bit high given the current value of ETH. But keep in mind that when Chan released the project in 2017 the value of ETH was just $300 so the prices at the time made a whole lot more sense.

High Art: This project seems to me to be the first true ‘high art’ to be issued on the Etherium blockchain.

Now please all you CryptoPunk owners don’t come for me, I do understand that Punks are art.

I also acknowledge that Curio Cards — which were released before CryptoPunks — is art.

I mean dogs sitting around a card table is an art that I can get behind. Even put on the wall in my office.

Curio Card number 19 by @helloluis

But no matter how much I love Curio Cards it’s not ‘high art’ IMO.


Because I, and probably you, can understand it easily.

High art is completely different.

You need to think about it.

Figure it out.

And if you put in the effort, you are maybe left changed by the experience.

Chan details his inspiration and process for creating his Digital Zones NFT in this video series.

How is Digital Zones High Art?

I am going to give you the quick version, as I understand it, beginning with the fastest history of art ever.

Step 1: Art starts with a real thing and then copies it. Think of a bowl of fruit. The closer an artist could get his painting to match the bowl of fruit. The better the art.

Realistic painting of a bowl of fruit

Step 2: Art still starts with a real thing but then makes it look different. Same bowl of fruit, just different. The more ingenious the way the artist makes it looks, the better the art.

Picasso’s bowl of fruit

Step 3: Now art doesn’t have to start with a real thing at all. Art is its own thing. Think of Jackson Pollock and his drip paintings.

Jackson Pollock

Step 4: Art doesn’t even need the physical form (like a painting) it can simply be an idea, a state of being, mindfulness, or pure sensation.

This is the realm in which Chan is playing with this NFT.

The Twist

If you visit Chan’s website and click on the ‘Collector FAQ’ tab you will see the instructions for purchasing the NFT when subsequent Series are released.

Then you can go to the ‘IKB Wrapper FAQ’ tab to wrap the NFT (these are pre ERC721 after all). This will enable you to sell the NFT on marketplaces like OpenSea.

But hold on, now it gets interesting.

Chan wants you to burn the NFT in a ceremony using the ritual() function on the smart contract.

By burning the NFT the “contract will take a sum of ether equivalent to half of the initial sale price of the token from me, and throw it to a null address… the ether lost all come from the contract owned by the artist.”

Chan suggests that by doing so “you will be in possession of the true, immaterial and non-transferrable value of the piece.”

High art indeed.

Final Heads Up

To all of my NFT archeologists out there you will notice that Chan published a contract approximately 6 minutes before the main contract. https://etherscan.io/address/0x8ade9bcda847852de70bada69bbc9358c1c7b747

This is not an earlier version of the same contract.

I know because I aped into the contract thinking that I could claim some earlier versions of the Series 0 Digital Zone NFTs.

I was wrong.

This contract acts as the BURN contract for those collectors who want to take the project to its zenith and actually burn their NFT.

You can see the one collector who 1349 days ago burned their NFT. And my sorry a@@ immortalized on the blockchain burning my ETH.

As Chan put it when I reached out to him after my escapades “You cut out a whole bunch of steps and threw your money straight into the river.”

And I loved every minute of it.

A big shout out to @WhiteRiceWill on Twitter for bringing this project to my attention.

In the spirit of transparency, I have not purchased nor do not own any of Chan’s NFTs currently.