After months of vigilant observation from behind the corner, laughing and ridiculing, ruminating while anxiously walking around the room, waking up all covered in sweat, crying, and veiling, I have finally decided to look into the hottest (and probably most controversial) phenomenon in the digital art market, ***NFTs***.
As I begin to compose this entry I have no idea what NFTs are and how they function. Nonetheless, I will try not to get astray in the forest of technicalities, labyrinths of art theory, or mazes of the art dealership.
So let’s begin! First of all, what is an NFT? No, I mean, what does that word even mean? As you could have already figured out NFT is an acronym that stands for Non-Fungible Token. ‘Non-Fungible’ is practically used to describe something one of the kind, unique and irreproducible.
The history of NFTs has begun around the year 2014. Since then the digital phenomenon has gained immense notoriety. So let’s go way back and try to figure out what NFTs actually are. We are used to thinking about NFTs as images, however, that is not always true. An NFT can take shape of a song, a video, and practically any form of media that can be digitized (even Tweets that were sold by the founder of Twitter as NFTs for hundreds of thousands of dollars).
In this regard, NFTs are like trading collectible cards: there are many individual cards, but each one is unique and nonidentical. Initially, it seems confusing. How on Earth can NFTs be unique if anyone can right-click and save any piece of media on the Internet, and if that doesn’t work, you can always just screenshot an image or record a piece of music with your phone? That is true. However, NFTs are not just unique images or songs, they come with rights for a piece of media that belongs uniquely to the buyer. A good analogy would be owning the original work of Matisse, and not just a print (there is probably one decorating your college dorm but that does not mean, you own any works by Matisse from the Louvre).
In reality, NFTs are similar to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin or dogecoin which are additionally linked to a token with a blockchain. Initially, NFTs were launched by Etherium, however, now many other blockchains also offer NFTs. So when one decides to purchase an NFT, the blockchain registers the transaction and stores it, legitimizing the buyer’s ownership.
Since the future of NFTs is highly uncertain, no one can really tell what is going to happen to the pieces acquired by Internet buyers. Leading experts in the field of blockchains and cryptocurrencies recommend being careful with investing in NFTs. Whilst it presents an alluring prospect of potentially successful investment, no one can guarantee that it will pay off in the future. Potential buyers should also consider that just like tangible artworks, digital media deteriorates with time: the quality of images drops, old formats stop being supported, and files get corrupted.
Meanwhile, for artists, NFTs presents an amazing way to monetize their art that would, otherwise, have a pretty limited market. The miracle of NFTs is that artists can avoid galleries and agents selling their arts. Many even say that NFTs constitute the new way of collecting art.
After this brief but, hopefully, accessible explanation of what NFTs are and how they actually work, I would want to present to you a small gallery of the most notoriously known NFTs (isn’t it ironic that I can just freely put it on here even though someone spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on these images previously?):
- CROSSROAD by beeple
2. CryptoPunk #7804
3. Everydays: the First 5000 Days by beeple
Is it about the time to buy or sell your first NFT? (don’t forget that they are taxable)