The way Bitcoin changed banking, NFTs can change the art realm. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are digital assets or collectables, either physical or digital that verifies ownership and authenticity.
After artist Mike Winkelmann, referred to as Beeple, sold the NFT for his digital artwork ‘Everydays – The First 5000 Days’ for $69 million the value of digital art is being acknowledged and respected.
NFTs are a technology used to authenticate an artwork; determining whether a work is art or not is up to the viewer.
However, does this mean the end for professional art houses and secret art trade deals?
Investor Ronin the Collector said, “the way I like to explain NFTs, they are digital assets with true ownership and provenance… you can track their origin and they can only be owned by one person.”
The popularity of this newly recognised crypto ownership taps into human behaviour and the obsession with owning things.
Ronin the Collector went on to say, “when you own things, it’s a connection, and it’s like you have a reason for being and there’s something unique about ownership.”
NFT’s offer myriad options for creating and trading digital assets – such as original artwork and blockchain integrated collectable games.
Blockchain is a system in which a record of transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency is maintained across several computers that are linked in a peer-to-peer network.
If the entire art realm was traded through blockchain by creating a digital token to represent each artwork, it would be possible to make the art market completely transparent.
Every single owner of an art piece will be known to anyone. Every single sale, bid or transfer would be recorded on the blockchain in a transparent way.
This creates the potential to revolutionise how people make art, buy products digitally and express themselves more uniquely on the internet.
Karen Wong, Deputy Director and Co-Founder of NEW INC – the New Museum’s art and technology incubator in New York, believes NFTs will expand rather than change the art world.
“In many ways, the digital world is trying to recreate some kind of physical form we already know,” she says. “I’m really interested for the artist to have such mastery over the technology that they’re going to show us something we’ve never thought of. That’s what I’m waiting for.”
NFT technology has responded to the lucrative dealings of the traditional art world and highlighted the need for authentication and provenance in an increasingly digital world, permanently linking a digital file to its creator.
Although anyone on the internet could easily make a digital copy of Beeple’s “Everydays — The First 5000 Days” by simply downloading it, and the content would be the exact same, they wouldn’t own the artwork itself without blockchain verification.
CEO of Twitter is selling an NFT of his first tweet, re-defining ‘what is art’ and giving the proceeds of the auction to a charity. The highest bid currently stands at $2.5 million.
Through NFT’s the value of artworks or digital assets lies with anyone and everyone. This will challenge traditional art experts opinions on how art and objects are valued. As Karen Wong noted, digital artists and creators will have more control over their creativity.