Adaptation is gradual.
You cannot force change on people, however practical or necessary, without meeting resistance. The world may be increasingly digitized, but we will never stop being human. As beautiful and transformative as Web3 promises to be, and likely will be, our current reality isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, nor is our inherent connection to it. It is important for those of us who work at the intersection of more “traditional” art and NFTs, those of us eager to usher in the future, to recognize this. Humans change, but slowly, and with persuasion.
For NFT art to become the widely enjoyed space that it can be, we need to build an attractive conduit for human interest to flow. And with it, the ability to adapt. We need to build a bridge between art and technology that both elevates unique digital creations and keeps us grounded in the reality that we cannot ignore. Showcases, exhibitions, events and other IRL venues can provide this hybrid experience through which viewers can tailor their tastes to this burgeoning art form.
Magnitude, Scale, Mean, Impact
If you’ve paid attention to the film industry, you know that many committed filmmakers are very sensitive to the milieu in which their stories are told. To some this may seem insignificant, but it is understandable considering the countless hours, if not years, that artists devote to their work. And this work deserves the dignity of proper presentation. Scorsese and Tarantino don’t want their films to be viewed on a laptop or iPhone because that minimizes the emotional impact of the cinematography, and the story and characters it supports. The depth and texture of the human face, the scale of the awe-inspiring landscapes and intricate settings are infinitely more captivating when projected prominently into a dark theater. On a lesser scene, these details pale in comparison, as the images are far less powerful and emotionally provocative.
Likewise, NFT art cannot be fully appreciated when condensed onto a phone screen or a nanoscopic profile image. And if some companies like Lago have developed innovative LCD screens to maintain pixel density and graphical fidelity, most average collectors are unlikely to spend $9,000 on an NFT frame. This is why IRL galleries play an important role in elevating the emotional experience. Think of them as the movie theaters of NFT art. They project art on a large scale, effectively isolating viewers from outside stimuli by tightening focus and consequently immersing them in a digital world.
Our own He stays The NFT art exhibition, for which I curated, endeavored to achieve such an immersive experience at the Infinity des Lumieres in Dubai last May. To liven up and do justice to the graphic novel by Vasil Tuchcov and Ed Mattinian, on which it is based, we have meticulously dressed the walls and ceilings with massive LCD panels displaying Mattinian’s art. We even darkened the space, aside from the light panel of course, and installed reflective flooring to lock viewers into the dystopian world. The result was not just the magnification of art, but an innovative form of thought-provoking storytelling.
Community, Sharing, Connection, Collaboration
Art is like life. It’s better shared. Listening to music on its own has its merits, but it certainly can’t replace the exhilaration of singing along with a choir of fans at a concert. As an art director in the film industry, I always prefer the collective laughs, gasps, and tears in a movie theater to my lonely living room.
In one respect, digital art galleries and storefronts offer the same community value as traditional art. If you’ve ever found yourself at the Met or the Louvre, you’ve probably peeked at someone who was gawking Rembrandts and thought, “I wonder what they or they see. i wonder what they or they feel.” Or maybe you even listened in on their conversation with their mates as they talked about why they hooked up with this especially piece. The community makes these experiences better because art is often a mirror of society, as well as individuals, and how we are connected to the same reality; how we look alike and how we are different, while being together in the same physical space.
But for NFT art, community and shared experiences go beyond consolidated viewing rooms, concert halls, or Discord channels. One of my favorite examples performed at the Coachella Music Festival this year. NFT artists installed a collaborative mural and encouraged viewers to add their own art to it with a brush. The result was a beautifully chaotic room that was later converted into a POAP and sent to participants. The mural was just one of many initiatives taken by NFT projects to bring people together IRL and familiarize them with the new art form. The Clay Friends Collection brought clay stocks and invited participants to create and mint their own NFTs, while the artist behind Dented Feels created, minted and raffled a custom NFT live during the event, with around 70 attendees buying tickets for $7,500 each.
Giving NFT artists the recognition they deserve
One cannot question a creation without questioning its creator. You can’t watch Solaris without thinking of Tarkovskyyou can’t listen To imagine without thinking of Lennon. NFT artists are still creators. They deserve recognition but, without a platform for them and their work, they are drowned out by the cacophony of industry criticism.
Similar to film festivals like Sundance and SXSW, where audiences interview directors and actors after their film’s premiere, unlocking greater depth in the work, events like VeeCon and NFT | LA promote the genius behind the genius. They expose us to new visionaries, inspiring mindsets and give us insight into the process and mechanisms behind it, not only prompting greater appreciation, but also helping us understand an esoteric kind of creative expression.
It doesn’t strip the art of its magic or spoil the escape. On the contrary, it opens our perspective. You cannot truly understand a work of art without exploring its origins, because that is where its purpose and intent lies. After all, artists and creators are perhaps the primary beneficiaries of the NFT movement, as tokenized artworks have a certification of provenance, a claim of authenticity and ownership. With more creative and individual empowerment, artists can avoid the politics, middlemen, and technicalities that plague their work.
Blockchain, NFTs and Web3 are the future. But there is a chasm between the future and the present. We will get there. It will just take time, attention and persuasion, which is why IRL events are essential to closing this gap. Their essence of scale, community, and creator recognition will slowly but surely expose the value of NFT art and facilitate change. So be patient and build more bridges.