What is art? What is that very unique thing leading us to stand on one specific painting for minutes in an exhibition hall? Why is Gustav Klimt’s “Das Kuss” not just a canvas and oil paint? What about Banksy’s graffiti with a little girl and a red balloon? No, I will not go too far to evaluate Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, which was only a mass-produced urinal. My point is, Art is a concept that we desire to box, yet somehow breaks its cookie-cutter out and bounces back to us.
Human creativity is larger than life. When we look at the materials to leave a print on earth, the selection is outlandish. Dried fruits, berry juices, and even blood were uncovered in cave artworks from the Archaic period. This is so remarkable to see our ancestors longing to express themselves to others. Then, Ancient Egyptians painted those detailed hieroglyphs with beeswax, egg, and resin. Did you know that grandmasters like Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Rembrandt used chalk sticks made from natural mineral pigments from under the earth? Yes! Caravaggio’s mesmerising Medusa is mounted on wood with a mixture of oil and minerals.
Since we have always used the materials available in our age, the Renaissance of the Internet brought us a plethora of alternatives as our dyes, the pixels. Today, a tweet, a video, a meme, a computer game, or a logo can be our canvas. Does it not verify something? The world of reality has borders, even though the world of creativity is infinite! The same desire makes Botticelli create Primavera and Mike Winkelmann to assemble “Everydays: The First 5000 Days”. Independent of the material or medium, art is nothing like a universe expanding constantly. Genius Albert Einstein is right again, “Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.”.
Art is for art’s sake; Art is for society’s sake!
This is one of the oldest dilemmas for generations. However, in our era, there is a third option. Can Art be for money’s sake? All of us undergo new versions of digital transformation every single day. This transformation process overspreads every inch of modern human life, from wearable technologies to psycho therapy seances on Zoom. Considering that it is inevitable, we have adapted to the new era to some extent.
Students take online classes, restaurants use QR codes instead of printed menus, CEOs arrange meetings online, and again we can sign off a legal document with digital signatures. The impact of digital transformation has been so robust and so swift that some of you may think that the examples given above are just ordinary time-saving tricks that we operate daily. Well, they are not. This transformation process has also brought brand-new concepts to our lives. Just like the flow, it does not surprise any of us how digital art infiltrates contemporary lives.
What is NFT?
The abbreviation NFT stands for “Non-fungible token”. Actually, NFT has a relatively long history than we thought in contrast to a common acquaintance. In other words, they are certificates verifying the ownership of a unique non-interchangeable asset and are formed on the Blockchain of Ethereum to ensure that no one can alter the licence record or copy/paste a new NFT into its presence. The term first emerged in the digital market in 2017, and in the same year, the first association of NFT and an art project occurred. The very first one of those, which started with Crypto Punks, resumed with the Pixel Art project, but unfortunately, after these baby steps, the concept of NFT and NFT products lapsed into silence till 2020.
With the pandemic requirements and people’s desperation to keep in touch, reach the outer world, feel in the circle, be relevant, commune with others, and express themselves, the vision began to advance and get more recognition than ever.
You may encounter diverse definitions of “what NFT is” if you bother to google it on your browser. To some people, NFT is just digital art pieces that can be obtainable to only some wealthy people; to others, it is a determiner or digital tool that can demonstrate and ensure the registration of digital products. Also, according to some minorities, it is not even related to art, for that matter; instead, it is a variety of cryptocurrencies and a valuable asset. While none of these definitions is entirely correct, the good news is that they are not entirely wrong either.
Maybe the most comprehensive definition of NFT is a digital certificate linked to unique digital assets registered on a blockchain like Bitcoin or Ethereum that can prove and ensure the property and copyright of qualified intellectual products. Furthermore, the most secure way to turn digital artworks and other collectables into readily verifiable assets can be traded on the Blockchain.
Sacha Jafri, a contemporary British artist, known for creating the world’s largest painting on canvas, explains how the software makes this possible. “There is software that scans a work of art. It cannot be replicated. It is indeed impossible. They are distinct if you scan a blank piece of paper and another because this software recognises the contrast.”
Although some people do not favour accepting NFT products as “real” art, numerous artists, from painters and musicians to comedians and designers, transform their works into NFT products. That is for sure; the digital transformation we have been through and the current, contemporary, and innovative art idea has significantly benefited during the process, so it turns out to be like this.
Can I have an NFT, please?
It has been nearly 15 years since Satoshi NAKAMOTO introduced the first cryptocurrency to the world. Bitcoin (BTC) was bandied about on the whitepaper with his signature in 2008 and became operative the following year. Thenceforth, cryptocurrencies keep evolving and advancing. As NFT can be sensed as another type of cryptocurrency, people started to invest in these products. While the trading volume on NFT was around 12.1 million Euros in the first half of 2020, by merging new technology with art, this recent industry has skyrocketed, reaching a volume of 9.4 billion Euros at the end of the third quarter of 2021.
In order to purchase creations from the NFT collections, one should dwell on the NFT marketplaces, which are fundamentally digital platforms functioning like shopping applications. One of them, founded in New York in 2017, is still serving as the first NFT marketplace ever. You can opt for NFT venues such as OpenSea, Rarible, and Mintable over the Ethereum blockchain network. In contrast, BakerySwap, Juggerworld, and Treasureland platforms perform on Binance Smart Chain, and popular NFT markets such as Kalao are likewise at your service.
May I see the menu?
Up to now, you probably have made up your mind about what NFT really is and whether it is rational to invest or not. As soon as you say “yes” to the last question, a new one just pops up in your mind. Which one should you purchase?
It depends on a couple of variables like how much you can spend or even what type of products it will be. There are unlimited options, such as music videos, digital paintings, tweets, a negative of an old photograph that belongs to a late president, a design of a house, and so on. By the way, the last one, known as the first digital house by the artist Krista Kim, was sold for 288 Ethereum. A bit awkward.
Here are the top five artists you can invest on;
- Refik Anadol (Istanbul, Turkey)
Anadol portrays himself as ‘an artist who blends data and artificial intelligence in the same pot and highlights that for years he has been forming works that bring light and architecture together. His diligent NFT work “Casa Batllo: Living Architecture”, by redesigning the pretence of the famous Casa Batllo house in Barcelona, was auctioned for 1 million 380 thousand Dollars. His other NFT work, titled “Machine Hallucinations – Nature Dreams: AI Data Sculpture 2021 1/1”, published on the NFT platform OpenSea, was sold for 300,69420 ETH ($1,184,545.71). For further information, please visit https://refikanadol.com/
- Andrew Brown (London, United Kingdom)
The digital artist, also known as Doctor Troller, was born and raised in the suburbs of London. He is notable for his disruptive visual and multimedia art style. Based in Chelsea, his rousing videos and surreal digital art pieces are conceived to kindle controversy and flare debate. Doctor Troller is nowadays one of the world’s top 3 richest NFT artists, with a net worth valued at 200 million GBP. For further information, please visit https://www.doctortroller.com/
- Mike Winkelmann (Wisconsin, USA)
American digital artist, graphic designer, and animator who is professionally known as “Beeple”. Beeple was first introduced to NFTs in October 2020 and credited Pak for providing his first “primer” on marketing NFTs. His NFT work, Everydays: The First 5000 Days, a collage of images from his “Everydays” series, was dealt with on March 12, 2021, for $69 million worth in cryptocurrency. It is the foremost purely non-fungible token to be sold by Christie’s. For further information, please visit https://www.beeple-crap.com/
- Murat Pak (Turkey)
This avant-garde digital artist is known as Pak and is recognised chiefly for his enigmatic identity. Pak bypasses releasing personal information. His creation, “Pixel”, which consisted of a one-pixel image, was purchased for 1.36 million Dollars at an open auction in London organised by Sotheby’s. Pak also developed a digital platform called “burn.art”, and a token anointed ASH.
- Trevor Jones (Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
After graduating from Edinburgh College of Art with an MA in Fine Art (Hons), Jones has worked at the convergence of art and technology for over a decade. In 2017 he invested in Bitcoin, which inspired him to a new visionary path with his modern art with the elaboration of crypto-themed AR paintings. Jones’s “The Bitcoin Angel” is an outstanding example of his affection for portraying AR paintings with crypto themes. The work hawked for approximately 3 million Dollars on the very same day it was up for bidding. For further information, please visit https://www.trevorjonesart.com/.
Should you invest in an NFT?
Indeed, this is a hard candy question to reply to! Since the NFT market is quite open to speculation and the currency, Ethereum, is not a stable one, it is still a dilemma if these digitised art compositions are profitable investments or just a kind of Tulip mania like in 1634. Is it wise to get on the train before the last whistle? Or, just like any investment, is it more reasonable to see how the land lies? In my opinion, the key answer depends on your philosophy on art and faith in the future of cryptocurrencies. Do you rely on a future where we will utilise these cryptos in our daily routine, like shopping or paying our bills?
You may be here to take advantage of the volatility in NFT prices. It is one of the paramount principles of investments; I know: “When there is chaos, there is an opportunity”. Yes, the NFT market is mostly based on word of mouth and speculation. It is also driven by FOMO (fear of missing out) and scarcity which may lead you to the point of no return. No one can assure your NFT will be appreciated with time and bring you a significant profit. Frankly, from this angle, it is no different than any share or exchequer bond.
On the other hand, art admirers have supported independent artists without the fear of loss for centuries. The House of Medici financed many masters, including the magnificent artist Michalanegelo and helped fund the Renaissance. When assessed from this point of view, art can be collected and supported with no wish to benefit, though to possess something extraordinary, something inspiring, something to place among fantastical collectables for your digital library.
Consequently, I believe NFTs are a brand new approach to the definition of art in eclectic aspects. Reaching a masterpiece without any intermediary is a revolution when we recall how orthodox auctions run silently behind shuttered doorways. You only need to bid for what you like on an online auction. More honest, more transparent, and more inspiring for the other artists!
The future is already here. No matter if you are ready or not. The glorious journey of Art has always been parallel to the story of our kind since our curious progenitors stenciled their handprints on the cave walls in Santa Cruz, Argentina. Our world sheds skin and evolves into something eternal beyond our utmost bizarre dreams, so does the Art! It is your very choice to partake in the Revolution or watch it from far away!