313 ETH SALE for an empty web page. Digital Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility by Mitchel Chan

4 min readOct 19, 2021

The story behind the Mitchel F Chan NFT that sold for 313 ETH a few days ago.

The original Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/averagecontract/status/1450046363249483782

The story behind this collection by Mitchell F. Chan is incredible. I read the 33-page essay that comes with the token along with more history behind Klein’s work. Here’s why it’s interesting.

Digital Zone is inspired by Klein’s famous Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility. In the first 1958 exhibition, Klein painted the entrances to the gallery blue, wrapped it in thick blue drapes and even served blue gin and cointreau to his invited guests.

However inside, the entire studio had been bleached white during a 48 hour isolated period by Klein, containing only the sensibility of blue.

“The tangible and visible blue will be outside, outdoors, in the street, and in indoors will be the dematerialization of blue.”

Collectors could only purchase Zone’s with pure gold. If purchased, Klein would issue a designed and signed receipt as proof of transaction. However, to Klein that only represented the legal ownership of the piece. To truly own a zone, the collector would have to burn the receipt in a ritual by the River Seine, where Klein would also throw half the gold in.

Only 3 people partook in the ritual. (The other half of gold was later used in another artwork by Klein).

Similarities and differences between Klein and Chan’s work.

Reading through Kleins work, we can already see a lot of similarities between his immaterial artwork and NFTs. Chan’s 2017 version is a reproduction of Klein’s zone, appropriately titled Digital Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility.

There are 2 key differences:

  1. The blue is a different blue.
    “The specific blue I will create in these digital zones is the hazy, muted blue of that horizon, on a clear day, roughly three hours before civil twilight. This shade conveys a sense of the infinite while also connecting to the natural world”
  2. Klein’s work still existed within the physical boundaries of the physical world. Chan’s Digital Zone exists entirely virtually using the Ethereum network to transact.
    The work: http://mitchellfchan.com/zonesExhibit/ (It’s blank, however is imbued with Chan’s blue).

One part I liked was contradicting Klein’s idea that immateriality was binary (It is either material or immaterial), with the idea that immateriality is a spectrum.

Pricing and burning

Another interesting fact was that Klein would double the cost of purchasing his Zones each time it was bought. (Hello bonding curves). The same goes for Chan’s work, starting at 0.1ETH (then $29) and ending at 12.8ETH.

Klein’s original receipts also explicitly state that a receipt for a Zone may only be resold for 2x its original price. However Chan’s resold for 312900% more. Since this is only the second trade of a series 0, it went from 0.1ETH to 313ETH.

As for the burning. The smart contract includes a function for a collector to burn their piece which consequently burns half the ETH value of that token from Chans wallet. From the contract, I can only see 1 burned token so far.

Smart Contract Address: https://etherscan.io/address/0x88ae96845e157558ef59e9ff90e766e22e480390#readContract

After posting the tweet, 0xb1 (the buyer) and Mitchell Chan chatted about burning the NFT to complete the ritual. (Potentially?)

Some more fun links:

Etherscan address of the mints: https://etherscan.io/token/0x88ae96845e157558ef59e9ff90e766e22e480390?a=0x88ae96845e157558ef59e9ff90e766e22e480390

Project intro: https://github.com/mitchellfchan/IKB/blob/master/FAQ.md

Artist Twitter: @mitchellfchan

Follow me on Twitter! @averagecontract