Digital Art and NFTs
What is Digital Art and NFTs, how has it affected the art market, and does this mean the end of physical art?
By now you may have heard about the incredible sales of digital art reaching in some cases tens of millions of dollars! A digital artist who goes by the name of Beeple sold a digital asset depicting his art created in his first 5000 days. It sold for $69 USD million dollars and then he followed up with a $6.6 million sale of animated people walking past a figure of Donald Trump.
So how can a digital asset be valued so highly? Usually, an art piece will command large amounts of money based on who the artist is, when and why it was created, quality, collectability, and its famous or infamous (think stolen) history. And of course, the authenticity of physical art, its provenance, is the number one factor that assures the buyer this is the one and only authentic piece. The art world is littered with stories of forgeries and is still an industry to itself today (a worthy future article). To ensure that a digital item is original a signature and provenance, just like physical art demands, is required. This is where NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens come in. The technology behind NFTs were developed primarily for crypto currencies. It provides an encrypted time-stamped record that is linked to its adjacent records in such a way that the information cannot be changed without breaking the chain, the block-chain, that makes up the full digital asset for the item. For crypto currency this block-chain contains ‘Fungible’ records, that allow the trading of records, currency, with like records. NFTs do not allow the records to be exchanged or traded, hence the digital record associated with the artwork is permanent.
Today anyone can buy a digital asset, using crypto currency, on the ever-growing list of platforms. Like the physical art world, the digital art world is a wide and varied field. Digital art has been used to describe a single image, video, patents, on-line game renderings (one recent sale was recorded at $1.5M), and the list keeps growing.
Does this mean the end of the traditional physical art? Throughout the history of art there has been waves of new materials, methods, forms and objects of which digital art is the current wave. If you’re interested in Digital Art, sign up for a digital wallet, load up with bitcoins and head out to the virtual galleries like Sandbox and Decentraland, or if you fancy yourself as a digital artist, and by definition anyone with a smartphone is, you can sign up and display your work.
Digital art is here to stay, and with a nice display, framed like a picture, you can present your digital art on a revolving basis, that is until the electricity goes out, but then you can always view your non-digital art whenever and wherever.