Digital artist Mike Winkelmann decided 14 years ago to create a virtual piece every day. And he did.
A big Aho for showing up and saving digital content.
Still, it never paid out. $100,- prints was the best he got out of 14 years of dedication. Until October last year. Things started to accelerate for Mike.
255-year-old Auction house Christie’s decided to invite the digital frontier artist to auction the first fully digital art ever in its long history. The hammer hit the table at a price of $69.4 million.
The work is called ‘ Everydays: The First 5000 Days’ and is the photo featured in this article. It has been sold as an NFT. A non-fungible token (NFT) Go ahead, you can copy it when you like. It’s low resolution though.
Confused? I get it. Let me explain.
Non Fungible Tokens now are the hottest new thing in crypto town. They shine a completely new light on copyright. I am going to break down this phenomena bit for bit for you.
This is what you need to know about these unique files, living on a blockchain, and changing the world of art forever.
What is fungible?
Fungible is a good or commodity whose units are essentially interchangeable, and the parts look all the same. Gold is a fungible asset. All Gold is the same and you can mould it into coins, temples, teeth, or when you’re a Pharaoh, your head.
Other examples are sweet crude oil, company shares and currencies.
Non-Fungability means the opposite. It’s one of a kind.
The movement of digitalization starting with the internet 3,5 decades ago has broken through a new frontier. Digital content becoming non-fungible. Virtual stuff made one of a kind with the ability to be owned and traded.
The blockchain is to blame for this. Everything, literally everything in this world can be tokenized when it can be expressed in data. NFT are, in fact, anything made digital.
The recent fuzz is concentrated on art. Digital Art. I’ll explain why Art is chosen as the first frontier to explore the tokenization of our world.
Lets dive into the NFT first. What are they exactly?
What is a Non Fundible Token?
An NFT is pictures, videos, music, or anything that can be digitally represented or wrapped up in a format that can be traded, stored or authenticated without needing to turn to a gatekeeper.
Blockchain tech will do the job.
Blockchain tech can secure the uniqueness of digitized value. In the case of Art, it gives buyers limited rights to display the digital artwork they represent. Often, they purchase the right to show off with the artwork while they pay for an asset they can always resell later.
NFT’s started off on the Ethereum Blockchain. More BLockchains are clinging on. Gaming Titan Tron has made its Blockchain NFT ready introducing a TRC-721 standard.
Hold on, this is not the next Star-fleet Enterprise Vessel.
THe ‘old’ blockchain standard is TRC-20. This standard is insufficient for handling NFTs due to each token in TRC-721 being unique. The new standard makes each Token contains owner ID, rich metadata, and other identifying information that is recorded in its smart contract. Vital information that makes each NFT unique and unexchangeable.
Remember: 1 artwork = 1 Token.
Blockchain tech solved the Double spent issue for money and created Bitcoin. So it equally solves the digital copying of anything with the result of a decrease of value when the owner is unknown. That makes NFT’s the Bitcoin of Art. Sort of.
NFT & the Art World
Are NFT’s shifting the art world in the 21st virtual century?
It is not surprising that the art world is one of the first to explore the NFT. Art has the function to critique and comment on new developments. Art can rewrite the narrative, and change the story of culture.
It is doing that in the moment humanity is on a very interesting and crucial threshold. A twilight zone of stepping more and more into a virtual world seemingly leaving the real one behind.
If we want it or not. History is pushing us in that direction. AS are corporate states that benefit from us not taking our eyes from screens.
The rise of NFT’s is, in fact, a comment on the recent ascent of humans migrating into virtual. By moving art into virtual first.
NFT: Art becoming bits and bytes
Lockdown has made many visual artists desperate. Museums, Galleries, workshops, all closed.
At the point some desperate creators contemplated cutting off their ear, digital brought the solution. Not that artist weren’t exploring digital art before. Crypto art is not a new thing, it has been around for some time.
it was just not that profitable.
The other problem: Before blockchain tech, it was quite undo-able to verify authenticity and uniqueness. Ethereum changed the game by creating smart contracts that can verify the authenticity of a digital asset, pair it to an owner, and guarantee its rarity.
Collectors and buyers now are aware of how many digital Mona Lisa’s float around in virtual, and can trace an original piece of 21st-century digital art. The digital Rembrandt’s of this era might be Beeble, deadmau5, and Paris Hilton.
Yes, Paris drew a Kitten and sold it for $17.000. Relax, it was for charity.
Deadmeau5 is a progressive music producer with a passion for tech. Its not surprising that he’s rather busy auctioning Digital prints now NFT’s are lifting off.
Is Beeble the Gaugain of the 21st century? He has been one of the most successful digital artists so far, and not only for his 69 million blow. One video auctioned for $6.6 million. When you like, visit that website and copy the video.
Here comes the subtle trick. You don’t own that video, the buyer does. The Blockchain will verify that when asked. All the social media attention, me writing about this and sharing the link, you look at the video and maybe tell friends, is adding to this news going viral.
And the price of the original digital art rise. See the mechanism at play here? The more attention, the higher the price.
It’s cute. It’s a sexy combination of internet virality, blockchain tech to secure trace the artwork back to the owner, and the hype of newness turning this video purchase into, probably, a good investment.
The examples of Paris Hilton, Deadmau5 and Beeble in NFT projects is the expression of a new trend. Mainstream celebrities, influencers and artists adopting the blockchain as a new revenue stream.
When Lockdowns forced them to stay inside, NFT’s have become the perfect runway to engage with new audiences, collectors, fans and buyers worldwide.
Deadmau5 Crypto Art. Source www.playtoearn.online
NFT: Bits and Bytes becoming Art
In the slipstream of art becoming Tokens, the reverse is happening too.
Bits and Bytes becoming Art.
Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, sold his first tweet for $2.5M. Jack wrote back in 2006: “just setting up my twttr”. That’s $100.000 per character. This is a perfect example of bits and bytes becoming Art.
Those kinds of prices for digital zero’s and one’s express what millions of people value in these times. A combination of billionaire allure, silicon valley chicque and technology increasingly changing our lives.
There is also some critical noise coming from our Tech state corporations
“We worry about the humanity being drained out of music, about it becoming a bits-and-bytes kind of world instead of the art and craft,” Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO
NFT — A bridge to the future of Art?
Another important function of art is to curate and collect. Or according to Mike Winkelman, the pioneer of NFT
“I do view this as the next chapter of art history, Now there is a way to collect digital art.” — Mike Winkelmann
A future Museum of NFT’s is most probable. Reminds me of one of the later Black Mirror episodes where somebody’s brain is tortured in virtual, in a museum.
The latest manifestation of the transition from material art into virtual tokenized art has been an original Bansky being burned after a NFT had been minted from that original print. The Bansky left the earthly plains and lives on exclusively in Virtual.
Are NFT’s symbolically representing humanity increasingly moving into virtual? A sign of the times?
Or should we stay with one foot grounded in real mud, smell the flowers, feel the wind, and realize all beauty we see around us in the real world is art? And care equally about that, and its preservation?
It can’t be expressed in Bits and Bytes and sold.