Art appreciation

For the love of art: how NFTs are changing the way we appreciate art

CHAOS. Or maybe it’s every new beginning? Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are a game-changer for asset ownership. Now the purchase of any digital asset – a music album, a tweet, an unreleased section of the pulp Fiction screenplay – can be registered on a blockchain, a register that gives original works in the digital space a guarantee of authenticity. The immutable blockchain signature also provides provenance, allowing content creators to be recognized for their work. NFTs have taken the commodity markets by storm, but no system has been shaken like that of the art world. At the border between commercialization and creativity, NFTs ask the fundamental question: what is the value of art?

Beeple’s EVERY DAY: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS sold at Christie’s in March for $69,346,250. The high price of purely digital work with its own NFT has hit many like a bubble about to burst. However, this year, Hiscox UK, a business and personal risk underwriter, published in its online art trading report that the shift to online sales is likely to outlast the pandemic with 56% of art buyers and 65% of online art platforms declaring the change. to digital sales will be permanent. Most of these sales can be attributed to NFTs in art: around $3.5 billion worth of crypto art and NFT collectibles were sold from early January to late September 2021 alone.

If physical galleries have been slow to embrace creating digital art, now they understand. At Art Basel, Berlin-based gallery Nagel Draxler sold an NFT by crypto-artist Olive Allen, Post-death or The Null Address NFT, for 8 Ethereum, around €25,000, on the opening day of the exhibition. Loïc Gouzer, who set the record for the most expensive painting ever sold at public auction by knocking down the hammer Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci to the tune of $450.3 million, left Christie’s to found Fair Warning, an online platform reserved for art collectors. Gouzer firmly believes that the future of art is digital: “The NFT Sphere will be a catalyst that will give voice to a new generation of artists and expand the palette of expression for established artists who aren’t afraid to embrace paradigm shifts.” Indeed, the easily disseminated digital asset allows artists to keep pace with the globalization of visual media, a phenomenon accelerated by social media.

When Lawrence Gagosian, world-renowned owner of the Gagosian Gallery, said he just didn’t understand new technology well enough to partner with Fair Warning for Urs Fischer’s CHAOS NFT series, Fischer went to Pace Gallery which has a new platform dedicated to NFTs. Yet the fact that I can attach Urs Fischer’s letter CHAOS #1 Human and a link to the full animation (https://www.chaosoahchaos.com/1/) to this article is itself the obvious problem with NFTs for art collectors: if an image appears for free on your screen the same way it appears to the buyer who paid nearly $100,000 for the animation based on a 3D scan of a lighter circling an egg, so why invest at all?

In 1936, the art historian and philosopher Walter Benjamin published The work of art in the era of mechanical reproduction to understand how the innovations of his time, namely photography, would forever change the public’s appreciation of art. He used the term will have define what even the most perfect reproduction lacks: the unity of a precise place and time at the moment of creation. This is where the NFT revolution lies: every object has the same will have. Whether you have the psychic income to own CHAOS #1 Human or if you happen to click on the URL that leads to the same animation seen by the rest of the world, your work experience is exactly the same.

Debates over whether the growing popularity of NFTs will eclipse the demand for “real” art (visual works that exist in the real world) take for granted the mediums in which works of art are produced. Beeple’s JPG does not attempt to replace Leonardo da Vinci’s oil on canvas; the same system for evaluating the qualities of EVERY DAY: THE FIRST 500 DAYS does not apply to Salvador Mundi. The appreciation of a work of art must take into account the capabilities of the canvas. Jacob Barnes, gallerist and founder of Grove Collective, explains that “NFTs are both everything and nothing for the art market; they will never replace physical art in the same way that e-books have not replaced books, but they do provide an opportunity for a completely ancillary market that can grow into something very meaningful, both for the artistic production and markets.

NFTs are not incompatible with artistic creativity, they are rather a vector for its democratization. Yet some projects such as “The Tarantino NFTs”, a collection of unique iconic scenes from pulp Fiction which feature personalized audio commentary by the acclaimed director, present a “choose your own adventure” approach to sharing art. Once a buyer owns one of these NFTs, they “will enjoy the freedom to choose between: 1. Keeping the secrets to themselves for all eternity; 2. Share the secrets with a few trusted relatives; 3. Share secrets publicly with the world,” according to the website. the freedom hosting a private collection on your computer or turning the world into a museum adds a certain moral component to NFT ownership that prevents the digital asset from being considered art for art’s sake. Moreover, the existence of a guarantee of authenticity responds to the need of the art world to monetize the production and recognize the creators of digital content.

NFTs challenge traditional conceptions of ownership. by Urs Fischer CHAOS The series examines how objects define people’s perception of the world and function as the building blocks of their own value system. When the human-object relationship is disrupted, chaos ensues. What better conditions for art to intervene?

“People seem to be afraid of art. Art has always been a word for that thing that cannot be rationalized; when you see or hear something you have trouble explaining,” says Fischer, “but that’s its strength, of course, that’s what the word ‘art’ is for. According to the artist, the egg in CHAOS #1 Human symbolizes a new beginning and the lighter represents mankind’s most important discovery, fire. Using this frame of reference, the egg could also be considered a digital asset. NFTs may be a baptism of fire for the art world, but no one ever said creativity was easy.

Image credit: Urs Fischer


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