JPEG on the wall: how NFTs become phygital

A year ago, on March 11, 2020, a digital artist known as Beeple introduced the art world to a three-letter word called NFT with a $69 million sale at Christie’s. It wasn’t art’s first brush with blockchain, but it took a lot of money for everyone to start googleing non-fungible tokens.
But after scratching their heads, the traditional art and crypto worlds have decided to unite in the interest of wooing young collectors who don’t mind spending thousands of dollars on a digital work. which can only be displayed on a screen or on their Twitter profiles (like comedian Jimmy Fallon did with the Bored Ape NFT he bought).
But why spend money on a digital file that can easily be duplicated? The problem with NFTs is that they confirm ownership of the image.
Auction houses were the first to go from selling modern masters to comic book monkeys, and now art fairs have made a foray into the metaverse. While Miami Art Basel had a stand dedicated to NFT works, Art Dubai, the premier art fair in the Middle East, recently decided to open the doors of the traditional art world more widely to the crypto community with a entire numeric section.
The fair’s artistic director, Pablo del Val, was quick to point out that this was a foray that went beyond NFTs, they certainly dominated the section sponsored by the cryptocurrency exchange. Bybit.
Although it seemed odd at first to see QR codes and the digital glow of screens at an art fair instead of canvas and paint, it gave galleries a chance to hold newbies in the hand. to buy an NFT, as soon as you open a wallet to hit it (create it on the blockchain) and pay for it with ether (ETH).
For those who don’t understand buying a digital file, they’ve added a tangible aspect to it as well. Amrita Sethi, an Indian-born banker turned artist and NFT pioneer in Dubai, is known for her unique “voice note” artwork.
“I want people to actually see sound, and I do that by recording a word and then capturing the shape and structure of the sound wave,” says Sethi, who reinvented the alphabet for Web 3.0.
At the fair, his Morrow Collective gallery also sells physical slices of his augmented reality “voice sculptures” that come to life by scanning a QR code. Some of his works have already been snapped up by collectors.
She’s not the only one going “phygital”, that is, combining the physical and the digital to try to reach people who don’t quite master the works they literally can’t hang. . While some galleries that only exist in the metaverse open up physical spaces, a few physical galleries make room for displaying NFTs. Even Beeple had a physical show recently.
Bengaluru artist Raghava KK, who achieved his own record NFT sale at Sotheby’s in October, likes to push the boundaries of physical and digital. At the booth of Volte Art Projects, a gallery that started in Mumbai and now has a presence in Dubai’s arts hub, Alserkal Avenue, one can experience the digital pop culture iteration of Raghava’s Pablo Picasso-inspired project Guernica. The physical painting and the 69 NFTs he made with it have already sold out, says Volta founder Tushar Jiwarajka.
Raghava also dropped (out of an NFT if you want to understand the lingo) 3D phygital holograms of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and even one of the alleged creators of bitcoin Satoshi Nakamoto. The meme-fied sculptures are mounted in a special digital display that ensures your newly created art can be displayed on a wall rather than sitting inside a computer.
So what is attracting brick and mortar to blockchain? Jiwarajka says it should be considered like any new technology. “I’ve always worked with artists who embrace technology in all its forms. It is a tool that helps them experiment. Additionally, NFTs solve many problems for the art market, such as authentication and provenance.
“One of the other perks is royalty. Typically, when a work of art is purchased from a gallery by a collector, he or she can resell the piece privately or at auction for a higher price, without the artist sharing in the profits. Thanks to the smart contract integrated into the NFT, each resale can be tracked,” says Jiwarajka.
But is the NFT trend here to stay? You could bet crypto money on it.
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