NFT’s for Dummies (Like Me) — A Sneak Peek
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In light of all the articles, discussions, and general excitement surrounding NFT’s, you may be asking yourself “What the heck is a Non Fungible Token? Why is Paris Hilton so into NFT’s? Why does fungible sound sexual?” (on second thought, that last one might just be me) While I cannot answer all of your questions, I can try to synthesize the essentials so you can have a surface level understanding of a groundbreaking change in the way art may be sold in the future.
Warning: the information provided is extremely simplified and written by someone who managed to lock himself out of his dorm in underwear thrice. It does not fully explain the nuances of NFT’s, cryptocurrencies, or the technological feats required for them to exist.
What is an NFT?
An NFT, or non-fungible token, is a file with individual marketable value because the file’s code is programmed to be independently legitimized as an original rather than a copy. Thus, this file is unique from all other files online. The technology that authenticates and individualizes these files is rooted in the same coding systems as cryptocurrencies, which is known as Blockchain technology.
How do NFT’s work?
In order to explain how NFT’s work, one must first have a basic understanding of how cryptocurrencies work.
Cryptocurrencies were created to store wealth without legitimization from big institutions, like the FED, corporate banks, or Kris Jenner. As such, their code is made so that each unit of cryptocurrency is being continuously legitimated and protected in a decentralized fashion; someone trying to create fake Bitcoins -essentially counterfeiting cryptocurrency- would find it impossible because of various structural functionalities in the code that are regularly reinforced by independent agents called “miners”. As such, there is no “Bitcoin bank”, because Bitcoin is programmed to essentially legitimize itself. Organizations like Ethereum have found ways to apply cryptocurrency’s decentralized authentication systems to files anyone with a computer is familiar with, like a text, jpeg image, mp3, or an mp4. Thus, we have the birth of NFT’s, the first crypto collectible!
What is its relevance to art?
The technological boom has presented huge challenges for the art world, namely due to the lack of scarcity of online images. Scarcity is a concept that the art world depends on, because it allows pieces to be unique, collectible, and inimitable. With the technology embedded in an NFT, anyone can copy a blockchained image; however, copies lack the identifying code that allow the original NFT to stand out as a unique, scarce virtual object. NFT’s allow the art world to bring scarcity to the virtual world. They also create a whole new market for online art, and artists and galleries alike are jumping on the opportunity. Famous contemporary artist Takashi Murakami (you may recognize his flower pillows) has already started to blockchain his work for future virtual sales.
Can I buy an NFT?
There are various websites that now sell NFT’s and are easily found with a simple Google search. However, be forewarned that NFT’s are bought in cryptocurrency (usually wrapped ethereum) and buyers need to convert their regular currency into cryptocurrency and create a crypto wallet in order to purchase an NFT. One of our vendor sites, Artland, is now in collaboration with OpenSea to sell NFT’s as a medium.
Takashi Murakami is not the only artist getting in on the NFT hype. The CAMP’s very own Guang-Yu Zhang, a Shanghai-based artist who frequently uses electronic resources to create his work, is already all too familiar with the struggles of the old electronic art market. He is exploring how NFT technology can influence how his work sells in the coming years. As an artist who has already mastered the sphere of virtual space artwork, Guang’s process already lends itself to NFT platform sales. Some examples of such previous projects include Guang’s Goldshark video series, as well as his collaborations with Carlsberg and Hennesy.
Here are some of Guang’s pieces, could they be blockchained in the future?