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Intro to cryptoart and non-fungible tokens (NFTS)
A non-fungible token (NFT) of digital kitten art sold for 170,000 US dollars. These tokens could change how we buy, sell and own digital media. What are they, and could they build a new creative economy? To start, check out the video above from CNBC!
Is this the art of true ownership in the digital age?
Most of us can make a GIF, take a picture or record a clip, but what if you could sell those and other digital media for hundreds of thousands of dollars? With the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), pictures, short clips of comedians, GIFs and every other form of digital art is now being tokenized and sold just like a physical painting.
What is an NFT?
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are a digital certificate of ownership of a piece of digital information that can be bought and sold. It works the same way as cryptocurrency: Secure transactions made between two parties recorded permanently through blockchain. The difference is, with bitcoin – a popular cryptocurrency using blockchain – you can trade one coin for the other and it has the same value, but NFTs are one-of-a-kind. Each NFT is unique and can have a different value.
You can make NFTs of almost anything digital, but the big news is they're starting to be used to buy and sell digital art, known as cryptoart.
Why NFTs can benefit digital artists and art buyers
Uniqueness has always been central to the art market. Digital art is hard to sell, and for buyers, hard to 'own' because of the potential for an infinite number of copies. NFTs could solve that problem.
For creators, NFTs are super trendy and therefore add to your enigmatic status, and they have a handy sell-on feature. If you sell a GIF using NFTs, you get a percentage every time the NFT is sold to a new buyer. Imagine Van Gogh selling a painting, then getting a slice of every resale, forever.
And if you're a buyer, you have a concrete claim of owning a piece of digital art. And speaking of buying, you might want to see this.
A world gone mad for NFTs
The best way to understand the NFT market explosion is to see some pieces that have fetched crazy sums. Brace yourself.
This Nyan Cat GIF sold for almost $600,000 US dollars.
Grimes - The NFT goldrush continues
This 50-second video by Grimes sold for almost $390,000.
Watch the video here.
Beeple - Authenticated by blockchain
This video by Beeple sold for $6.6 million.
Watch the video here.
Crypto financial and environmental impacts
Many financial experts have warned that this could be an investment bubble that, if it bursts, could mean big losses.And while NFTs are making the digital art world fairer, they come with a warning. The sale of a crypto art piece can use the same amount of energy in one transaction as an art studio uses in two years.
How artists can benefit
If you're an aspiring or established artist or content creator, no promises, but this could be big for you. First, prepare your work ready, whether it's a GIF, picture or video. Then, when you're happy with it, start on NIfty Gateway. On Nifty Gateway, you can apply to create a project for them to sell.
For many people, art is something very human, as it is creating deep connections and emotions. One of my favorite movie quotes is from "I, Robot":
Detective Del Spooner (Human): Human beings have dreams. Even dogs have dreams, but not you, you are just a machine. An imitation of life. Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot turn a... canvas into a beautiful masterpiece?
Sonny (Robot): Can you?
We always thought, that no machine could ever create a piece of art that has an impact on us, but as artificial intelligence gets more and more advanced, art does not seem to be something only a real person can create. As a matter of fact, AI is already able to create impressive pieces of art. So, let's dive into the AI age of art with some intriguing artificial creatives.
Becoming the Muse
Finishing the unfinishedPhoto by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash
Mahler, Beethoven, Schubert, or Bruckner: Each of those composers have symphonies they did not finish in their lifetime. But an international team of experts created an AI that analyzed Beethoven's unfinished tenth symphony and finalized it. Listen to the AI's compositions here. Can you spot which part is from Beethoven and which is from the AI?
Artificial SongPhoto by BRUNO EMMANUELLE on Unsplash
Researchers at Zhejiang University in China teamed up with experts from Microsoft and created an AI that generates voices singing in English and Chinese. If you listen to the voices extracted, they do sound quite artificial, but as soon as DeepSinger synthesizes them and puts them into music, one cannot tell that the songs are artificially created – at least I could not.
Scary HumanePhoto by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
In our age of rapidly spreading fake news, we can usually rely on our reason to understand who the author is, where the information comes from, and whether the source is trustworthy. But in 2019 OpenAI published a text generating AI which creates terrifyingly human texts. Also, a study by Karlstad University in Sweden shows that most people cannot tell whether an article is written by a journalist or a machine. That may make it harder to sort out fake news in the future, and would need online platforms to curate information more closely. THE VERGE collected some examples of AI writing – they may not be perfect, but also not too bad.
Creating Emotions out of Data
Last but not least we want to present to you artist Refik Anadol. By using large collections of data and artificial intelligence he creates fascinating installations where spectators can experience data sculptures created out of millions of pictures from different points of view. When people step into the installation they step into an alternate reality: into the dreams of the AI. And though the machine may not have emotions, it portraits it and by that impacts our emotions.
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Art is never easy. A work that fascinates and inspires one could insult and annoy the other. Particularly, street art is a good example. Using urban buildings and objects for creating art does not always please the local population, because it often happens without approval. Over the last few years, however, street art has changed a lot in the public perception and has become a socially recognized and respected art form that decorates cities and gives them a special character.
At the same time, ways of exposure changed significantly. While street art and many other types of visual art could only be admired and seen locally in the past, social media – and Instagram in particular – offer great potential for artists to broadcast their work and their messages to a much wider audience. Artists' social media profiles become their personal exhibition space where people across the globe can like, share and comment on their artworks. With that, social media is shaping the way street artists work and plenty of them gladly admit that they owe a lot of their growth and success to networks like Instagram.
To give you an insight into the international street art scene, we present you thirteen amazing street artist and their Instagram profiles. You may recognize some of them from the video above. Have fun and feel inspired!
1. Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia is a Cuban-American artist who explores and expresses his identity through sculpture and painting. His creations are set in the context of everyday human situations and the socio-political environment.
2. Nuno Viegas (Metis)
The Portuguese artist Nuno Viegas, also known as Metis, started his artistic career with graffiti in 1999. He studied visual arts at the University of Algarve and moved to Rotterdam after graduating in 2014, where he discovered his artistic identity and developed his work with a strong influence from the graffiti scene. Nuno Viegas is the founder of the artist collective Policroma Crew.
3. Josh Keyes
Born into a family of artists, Josh Keyes has become a celebrated contemporary artist. The photorealistic works of the US-American mostly show animals in a dystopian scenario. Especially in times of growing environmental awareness, his pictures have a lot of weight.
4. Andrew Hem
Andrew Hem did not have an easy start in life. He was born while his parents were escaping from Cambodia. The reason was the genocide, caused by the Khmer Rouge ruling the country at that time. His creations are influenced by his ancestors with a mix of the urban life of Los Angeles, where his parents settled.
BEZT was born in 1987 in Turek, Poland. With SAINER, an artist he met during his studies in fine arts at the University of Lodz, he started to draw as a duo. Both artists became popular in the polish and international graffiti scene under the pseudonym ETAM CRU. In his works, BEZT mixes classical elements and the aesthetics of Eastern European culture with modern themes.
6. Leon Keer
Leon Keer is a worldwide known artist in the field of anamorphic street art: A style which allows the viewer to see the artwork in 3D from a certain perspective. Furthermore, he combines some of his creations with modern technologies such as augmented reality or video mapping.
Oscar San Miguel, alias OKUDA, is a Spanish street art artist, who became famous for his large-format works with colored geometric shapes. In 2016 he was rated one of the top 100 most famous artists worldwide by the online magazine "Widewalls".
Banksy is probably the most famous street artist on this list, not least because of shredding his artwork "the Girl and Balloon" during an auction in the auction house Sotheby's in October 2018. The artist, who remains anonymous to this day, combines black humor with graffiti in his mainly satirical works in a unique stenciling technique.
The artist and designer Brian Donelly, known as KAWS, started his artistic career in the graffiti scene of 1990. He soon switched from 2D art to 3D art by creating his mostly figurative paintings as sculptures. His most famous sculpture is the "Companion", which is based on the cartoon figure "Mickey Mouse".
JR is a French photographer and street artist. He originally started in the graffiti scene and became known for applying huge photographs on urban surfaces. In 2016 he used optical illusion to let the famous Louvre Pyramid disappear and in 2019 he made the pyramid rise from a deep crater.
Dean Stockton grew up in London and had an interest in graffiti since childhood. He uses spray paint, sticker, stencils and posters to create his unique art style. If you are a fan of the band Blink-182 or Christina Aguilera, you have probably seen some of his artworks on one of their covers.
12. Ben Eine
Ben Eine is the master of typography. His letters shape the cityscape of many districts in London, Paris, and Stockholm. During his artistic career, he created numerous lettering styles including Shutter, NewCircus and Neon.
Art mixed with science – SHOK-1 spraypaints his detailed X-ray art on walls all over the world. The British artist, based in London, holds and a degree in Applied Chemistry and was one of the first Europeans who engaged with the US street culture which had a big rise in the early '80s.