The art market’s fascination with NFTs has reached a fever pitch over the past couple weeks. We've seen a Banksy work burned, the artist Beeple become a household name, human souls auctioned off (and one grandmother), and artworks listed by public figures including Grimes, Jack Dorsey, and DJ Alesso. What to make of it all?
NFT stands for "non-fungible token." Fungible means exchangeable. NFTs are unique collectible tokens that are permanently tied to, for instance, digital artworks and music. They cannot be separated; the token is the art. The fact that a piece of art can be created and exist on a screen, be it your phone, computer, tablet, etc. Then, that piece of art can be seen, screen-shotted, and downloaded by anyone online. But the deeper concept of NFT art is agreed-upon value and ownership; even if anyone can see, download, print out and hang up a piece of digital art, only a select few can actually own that exact piece. So NFTs are a form of digital asset, whose ownership is recorded on a blockchain.
Good question. Picture an online log that keeping a publicly accessible record of who owns what, similar to the kinds of networks that ground cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Dogecoin. NFTs are connected to the Ethereum blockchain like this: you buy a NFT and the unique bit of information about that artwork—including its smart contract—is stored on the blockchain. It proves you own it.
Investing in art has traditionally been the reserve of the upper-classes who can afford to invest in something that is likely to lose value. Crypto art could provide a way for those with less capital to invest in works. Practically speaking, those who may want to invest in art, but have nowhere to put it up, could be interested in NFTs as an alternative. “You don’t have to think about where to put it when you want to buy it,” said John Crain, the chief executive officer of SuperRare, an online platform for the creation and collection of crypto art. “It’s expanding the market.” All in all, it’s hard to say Crypto art is a golden ticket or mostly a hype. But definitely open our eyes to a new chapter of art world.
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