The Art Angle Podcast: What Does the Future of NFTs Look Like Now?

Crowds at the 4th annual NFT.NYC conference on June 20, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

When NFT NYC, the world’s largest NFT conferencedescended on Times Square last month, Bitcoin and Ether were down more than 70 percent from their November highs. That put a damper on the proceedings, and it’s had a ripple effect on the once-ballooning market for digital collectibles. In the first half of 2021, Christie’s sold $93 million worth of NFTs; this year, they’ve sold just $4.8 million.

Meanwhile, NFT players and platforms are being dogged by allegations of insider trading and market manipulation, and many in the art world are reconsidering their relationship with the sector.

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The Venice Biennale Is Getting Its First NFT Art Exhibition Courtesy of Cameroon’s First-Ever Pavilion

Marina Núñez, Symbiosis (sundew) (1) (2022). Courtesy of the artist and Global Crypto Art DAO

NFTs will officially have a presence at the Venice Biennale this year. A crypto-art exhibition featuring a range of international names will take up a part of Cameroon’s debut national pavilion.

The pavilion encompasses two shows across two locations: the Liceo Artistico Statale Michelangelo Guggenheim and Palazzo Ca’ Bernardo. The former will display IRL art by four Cameroonian artists (Francis Nathan Abiamba, Angéle Etoundi Essamba, Justine Gaga, and Salifou Lindou) and four international artists (Shay Frisch, Umberto Mariani, Matteo Mezzadri, Jorge R. Pombo).

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wikipedia votes against classifying NFTs as art

SHOULD NFT-ART SALES BE CONSIDERED ART OR NFT SALES?

a group of editors on wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, has voted against categorizing nonfungible tokens (NFT) as a form of art. it all started on the platform the past december. the wikipidia editors were questioning if sales that reached up to 60 million dollars — like pak’s $ 91 million collections and beeple $ 69 million NFT — should be on the list. following a public debate, five wikipedia editors have voted not to classify NFTs as art and just one was opposed.

‘wikipedia really can’t be in the business of deciding what counts as art or not, which is why putting NFTs, art or not, in their own list makes things a lot simpler. there’s a separate issue of artificial price inflation of NFTs, though that’s something that would need to be decided in the NFT list and not here,’ said a wikipedia editor on a talk.

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The Year of the NFT: How an Emerging Medium Went Mainstream in 2021

Change-making NFTsCOURTESY DANIELA HRITCU

Though NFTs have been around since 2014, 2021 was the first year that this novel technology broke through into the mainstream, disrupting the art world and industries beyond it. Over the course of the past 12 months, the NFT scene has evolved rapidly. Below is a timeline of some of the most important moments in NFTs during this pivotal year.

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Top 10 Percent of NFT Traders Perform 85 Percent of All Transactions, New Research Reveals

A figure showing the difference between trader and NFT networks, respectively. SCIENCE REPORTS

Though the NFT market is on everybody’s mind, the details of how it functions and who it rewards are still murky. This past October, however, a team of researchers with funding from the Alan Turing Institute released one of the first papers to analyze the NFT market. Titled “Mapping the NFT revolution: market trends, trade networks, and visual features,” Matthieu Nadini et al. published in Nature some surprising results.

Despite the fact that NFTs have been touted as a democratizing force for art, the paper revealed that top buyers account for the majority of sales and very few artists make more than $15 dollars on individual NFTs.

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Should You Worry About the Environmental Impact of Your NFTs?

Joanie Lemercier’s “Polyblock – Platonic solids” NFT on Nifty GatewayJOANIE LEMERCIER

Joanie Lemercier, a French artist whose work is deeply tied to climate activism, has been working on steadily decreasing his carbon footprint by 10 percent each year. In an effort to lessen his reliance on international festivals and the planes that inevitably took him to them, he recently began to explore NFTs — non-fungible tokens based on blockchain technology — as a way to exhibit and sell art while staying at home. 

But he was concerned, as many artists are, with the environmental cost of blockchains and cryptocurrency. After some quick calculations, he went ahead with it, and his NFT work quickly sold out. Then, he began a hunt to track down more accurate numbers about the carbon footprint of this hugely successful transaction, which sold more than $16,000 worth of art in a single day. Ethereum alone is responsible for 96,200,000 tons of CO2 since its inception; this is equivalent to the combined annual carbon emissions of the 84 least carbon intensive countries around the globe. But how much of that can NFTs be blamed for?

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HOW TO LOOK AT NFTS

Two stills from Andrew Benson’s Active Gestures 4, 2021, animated GIF recorded from custom software. COURTESY THE ARTIST

Crypto art is an odd moniker. Art tends to be labeled by medium or style. But this new term defines art in relation to the technology of the distributed ledger where it’s tracked and traded. It says this art’s most salient feature is that its uniqueness is established by a record on the blockchain. An individual piece of crypto art is called an NFT, or non-fungible token, distinguished from other, interchangeable crypto assets, including currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, by its singularity.

To make an NFT, a digital file—a JPEG, a GIF, an MP4—must be minted, a computational process that registers it on the blockchain. A work of crypto art is therefore a hybrid thing. It’s the record on the blockchain that encodes its provenance, a smart contract that defines the conditions of its transfer.

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