Home Blockchain Art on the Blockchain: Are NFTs a game changer for the San Francisco art market?

Art on the Blockchain: Are NFTs a game changer for the San Francisco art market?

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Three months in the past, Nyan Cat, a well-liked meme and YouTube video of a cat with a pop-tart physique trailing a rainbow, was changed into a digital NFT token and offered by the SF-based digital gallery Basis for $590,000, fetching a windfall for the creator who had but to appreciate any financial profit from his in style work created in 2011.

NFTs, or digital representations of artwork that dwell on the blockchain, have taken the artwork world by storm within the early months of 2021, and the influence is being felt within the Bay Space artwork neighborhood, by gallery homeowners, artists, collectors, and curators alike.

For the uninitiated, an NFT, aka non-fungible token, is “a digital illustration of an paintings, and never essentially the bodily paintings itself, however reasonably the document of its existence which will be verified and traced to possession,” shares Ken Harmon Hashimoto, proprietor and curator of Hashimoto Contemporary in SF. The token is bought with Ethereum on the blockchain, the identical know-how that’s used for bitcoin, however on this case the token is non-fungible, that means it is not like cash—you’ll be able to’t alternate one for an additional; every token is exclusive.

In response to Claudia Schmuckli, curator-in-charge on the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the legitimacy of NFTs going into the artwork world signifies a serious change. “We’re speaking concerning the rarefication of a digital picture, which is, in idea, endlessly reproducible,” she says. “With the NFT you might be creating a man-made shortage. It is a approach to create worth.”

Schumckli feels the influence on the artwork world just isn’t a lot on the artwork itself however reasonably on {the marketplace}. This new manner of shopping for and promoting artwork, she shares, “reshuffles artists and businesses by way of controlling gross sales of their work.” Artists who promote their artwork utilizing NFTs retain a stake within the artwork, incomes 10 % on future gross sales. That is an modern idea that provides artists extra management.

Creatives agree. Artist and UC Berkeley engineering professor Ken Goldberg, who works on the reducing fringe of know-how and artwork, is thrilled with the appearance of NFTs as a result of they clear up the long-standing problem of promoting artwork that exists in digital types.

In 2011, when Goldberg determined to promote his set up “Mori: an internet-based earthwork,” which had proven on the Whitney Biennial, there was no established methodology to successfully promote a bit of artwork that lived on the Web. “NFTs present a really clear manner of recognizing possession. That is the great thing about blockchain,” Goldberg says. “You have got a confidence that if you buy one thing, you get what you pay for. Nobody can steal it from you.”

Artist and UC Berkeley engineering professor Ken Goldberg(Courtesy of Ken Goldberg)

Some native brick-and-mortar gallery homeowners have already begun experimenting with NFTs. Gallery proprietor Claudia Altman Siegel is working with three artists who’re creating NFTs together with Lynn Hershman Leeson, who has been experimenting with a number of new media for the reason that Sixties. At 79 years of age, Leeson is creating an NFT from one in every of a number of artwork movies she made with actress Tilda Swinton. The NFT is a part of collection known as “8 X 8” that includes eight artists. “Leeson’s NTF goes to be an excerpt of one in every of Swinton’s traces from one of many films. It is concerning the future, so it is smart that it is an NFT,” says Altman Siegal.

To date, the NFTs offered by Altman Siegal haven’t fetched the off-the-chart costs we have examine within the information. “They’ve gone for across the similar worth because the artist would promote their items for usually,” she says. “We really feel like making an attempt it out to see the place it goes, however we’re not holding our breath and ready for the million-dollar sale to occur.”

Different galleries, resembling Catharine Clark, are watching the craze with curiosity. “I am neither for nor towards NFTs,” says Clark, “however up to now, I have not seen something that’s fascinating to me coming from artists working in that medium. I’d simply as quickly be eager about NFT artwork as I’d an organization’s emblem that’s purchased and offered on the inventory market,” she says. “To me it is nearly cash proper now and invitations an fascinating dialog, which is not to say that in some unspecified time in the future somebody will not make one thing that is smart to me.”

Goldberg, who’s represented by Clark, looks like what we have seen is barely scratching the floor of what’s going to develop into potential. “My sense is that almost all digital artists are significantly contemplating it proper now,” he says. “It is not arduous. You’ll be able to actually create an NFT in an hour, after which get it arrange and registered. However proper now it is so scorching it may collapse in a short time. So artists like me are adopting a bit wait-and-see perspective.”

Whatever the danger, Goldberg is wildly enthusiastic to see NFTs shaking up the artwork market.

“Many individuals dismiss the artwork world as being static and conservative,” he says. “That is serving to change that. Positive, it is a bit of a gold rush proper now, and a few folks will make some huge cash promoting memes of toaster cats, and that is nice. If it additionally helps with getting extra folks into the artwork market, then that is a sport changer.”

This text was written by Jenny Jedeikin for SF/Arts Monthly. Jedeikin is a Bay Space–primarily based author who has written for Rolling Stone, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Advocate, Curve, Entire Life Instances, the UK’s Oh Comely, and dot429, amongst different media retailers. She additionally creates a selfie-comic strip, “JennyLive.”

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