It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. A classic quote from Walter Scott goes, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” But what about the tangled web we weave when we try to tell the truth? How do we go about unraveling the truth in a world of misinformation and disinformation?
As a writer, I have long considered the artists of the world to be some of our most unique and creative individuals. Some of them are designers, some of them musicians, some of them authors, some of them painters, some of them sculptors, some of them dancers, some of them photographers, and some of them even farmers. They are all unique in their own way. When it comes to the arts, I am not sure there is a better place to look for inspiration than the artists themselves.
The incredible dynamics of the emerging market of non-playable tokens (NFT) has caught the attention of collectors and investors. However, one group that clearly benefits from this paradigm shift are the artists who create these creative works.
A new era for the arts is winning for arts practitioners
In recent months, attention has been drawn to the NFT by the rapidly rising value of digital art and collectibles, which seem to be setting new records every week. Enthusiasts need only look at the emergence of a variety of exchange platforms, niches and new environments where NFTs are pioneering to understand the value proposition of this new standard.
The results of the auction are certainly an interesting story, but the benefits to the artists that go largely unnoticed are even more compelling. Yet the artist’s perspective is largely absent from discussions and debates about the NFT, even though it plays a central role in this emerging movement.
Instead of acknowledging this benefit, many critics focus on the drawbacks, such as the environmental impact of platforms like Ethereum. With Hic et Nunc, the Tezos-based NFT marketplace, which stands for Here and Now, this criticism can be overcome and the perspective shifted to the platform’s authors, such as Nancy Baker Cahill, Greg Yuna and Ben Clarkson. Each offers interesting perspectives on the status and prospects of the NFT.
FTT as a source of empowerment
Many designers see this new archetype as a way to further push the boundaries of art in a supportive community environment, and luxury jewelry designer Greg Yuna supports this idea.
Jewelry has always been a way for me to bring a creative vision to life, but I’ve also always looked for ways to express it elsewhere….. It’s great that people now understand that digital art can be a product in itself and not just marketing for something else. It takes a lot of time to create a work of art like this, and for us artists, it is liberating to enjoy this work. I love being part of this community that supports artists and appreciates our work.
Deployment of the fad
NFTs, which are often at the bottom of the food chain, give the creative community amazing power, and according to the artists, this isn’t just a flash in the pan. For California-based multidisciplinary artist Nancy Baker Cahill, NFTs are a driving force behind the redistribution of power hierarchies in art, which makes them even more appealing.
By Baker Cahill,
For too long, artists have been denied the economic responsibility that workers in other industries have. The ontological questions raised by blockchain are equally appealing and provide a creative breeding ground where ideas will continue to grow and evolve….. I see hyperbolic profits as a passing fad, but not the art form itself or the idea that a digital artwork has value – even equal to that of a physical artwork.
Yuna supports this view by stating,
I don’t consider this a quirk at all. NFTs allow us to expand the ecosystem of our work, change traditional commerce, and connect with a new community that wants to support this work. I think more consumers will follow suit as NFT becomes more mainstream, but I really want to get into it now, because who doesn’t want to be one of the early adopters? The people who buy my work are real visionaries.
For artist, illustrator, animator and two-time Lumen Award finalist Ben Clarkson, the social element is crucial to NFT’s sustainability. He adds,
I think NFTs will continue to exist in some form, but the specific economics or technology behind them will likely be in flux for some time. Technology is always a form of social communication, only the social relationships change.
A disruption of participation
Not all art forms have traditionally had markets that allow creators to monetize their work while enjoying greater accessibility and visibility. Clarkson says the NFT encourages greater participation in this new market and helps artists push the boundaries of digital by experimenting with this new medium.
Regarding the stark contrast between physical and digital art, Clarkson notes,
In the 1960s, Robert Rauschenberg attached a chair to one of his paintings, turning it into a sculpture. You can’t do that with NFT. Media have material properties that dictate what you can convey with them. NMTs have their own set of material properties. In the past, there was no market for visual animation, but today, thanks to the NFT, it is flourishing. As people experiment with the form, new possibilities arise.
Baker Cahill sees NFT and physical labor as symbiotic rather than antithetical, and bridges the two realms.
I wouldn’t think of them as opposites, especially since NFTs can also support physical artwork.
Development of the creative process
As the platform and tools evolve, so does the creative process associated with NFT. For Clarkson, it’s a simpler answer.
I guess: How do I keep it under 40 MB?
Yuna is developing this idea even further.
The process is definitely different since you can’t wear the NFT on your body (at least not yet)….. If I do something for a person, part of their character has to be in it. So I don’t approach it like I’m designing a garment for, say, Floyd Mayweather to wear to a pre-fight show, or for Michael B. Jordan to wear to the next Creed premiere. It’s about transforming my own collection and turning the jewels into an artistic composition. When I design with Rachel, we take the materials we would have used for our jewelry and turn them into digital art.
For Cahill-Baker, however, the process is not so radically different, and she applies the same systems she already uses.
In my case, I am as meticulous in creating the artwork and its conceptual framework as I am in creating the physical work. This also applies to the artworks I choose – how do they reflect my practice and my goals as an artist?
Perspectives according to the artists themselves
Just as artists are embracing this new format for their creative work, they are also looking ahead to the next frontier of art. For some it is an experiment, for others an opportunity to draw attention to pressing problems, and for still others a chance to invent something totally new.
Rachel and I have been experimenting with new ways of looking at jewelry, rethinking the way people see it, for a while now. When the opportunity arose, we decided to go big. Of course, we looked at some of the greatest works of art in history and decided we could have fun recreating them with watches, tennis chains, loose diamonds, Cuban links, rings and gemstones. It wasn’t easy – comparing Gustav Klimt and Piet Mondrian was no easy task, but we succeeded,
For upcoming projects, Baker Cahill has chosen a case study that involves a unique combination of stakeholders.
I am excited about an ambitious project for which I am working with a knowledgeable advocate for art in the NFT space, a well-known PoS blockchain, an art platform that supports green cryptocurrencies, and an art museum. Together we present a multi-part artwork that boldly addresses a number of pressing issues that affect us all at this time.
For Clarkson, brainstorming is the key.
I’m trying to figure out what to produce next. I fill books with ideas and then dream about how to make them a reality. Right now, I’m thinking an anime-style shootout, but everyone has a banana.
Would you like to buy a work of art from the NFT? Let us know your comments in the section below ?
Photo credit: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons, Greg Yuna, Ben Clarkson, Nancy Baker Cahill
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