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Art

Anastasia Gammon is a writer from Cornwall, England. She lives within screaming distance of a haunted former jail, somewhere between the moors and the sea, where she spends her days reading, writing, and taking photos. Her short fiction has been published by Dear Damsels, Popshot Quarterly, PaperBound Magazine, and in the award nominated short story collection, Cornish Short Stories: A Collection of Contemporary Cornish Writing from The History Press. She can be found on Twitter @StasiaWrites and on her blog, http://anastasiagammon.co.uk.

This has been the most difficult commission of my career. I've been to corners of the dark web I didn't know existed and talked to people running identity protection software that messed up my system for days. But I did it. I found the only licensed digital reproduction of Van Gogh's The Starry Night on the entire Virtual Reality Network and I sold it to Victor for an eye-watering price that I definitely earned.
"It probably would have been easier to find the real thing, hey?" he jokes as our avatars stand next to each other in his digital apartment, admiring the bunch of pixels I've spent the last two months of my life tracking down.
I laugh. "Yeah," I tell him. "Probably."
He transfers my fee and we make awkward small talk while I wait for the number in my account to update. Then we say goodbye and I log off, thinking if I never see his avatar again it'll be too soon.
I do enjoy the surprise on his animated face in the second before I go offline though. Most people never bother these days, so it must be a novelty for him to watch my avatar wink out of existence.
I tell people the walls of my digital house are so sparse because I sell all the good art to other people. The truth is, it's because I'm old fashioned. I still like to spend my cryptocurrency in the real world.
I have filled my real home with things only I will ever see.
And Victor was right, the real thing was so much easier to find.
The End
This story was first published on Sunday, September 12th, 2021


Author Comments

The initial idea for "Art" came from wondering how the meaning of "home" might change in a world that we increasingly experience digitally. I wrote the first draft in the summer of 2020, during a time when, for many people, it was safer and easier to meet with friends on a digital island than in a real garden. I began to wonder what it might look like if one day we really did all live online. Would we decorate virtual homes the way we do our physical homes? If you could have The Starry Night on the wall of your virtual home, and that was the home everyone saw anyway, would you even bother decorating the place where your body exists while you're logged on? At the time, I had never heard of NFTs, but now that the news is full of digital art NFTs being sold for millions of dollars, "Art" feels, to me, just a little bit less like fiction than it did when I wrote that first draft.

- Anastasia Gammon
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