Are NFTs the Future of Art?

NFTs: Non-Fungible Tokens

With new digital landscapes like the Metaverse and NFTs taking the world by storm, being able to definitively identify ownership of any digital object will be exceptionally important. In a world where anything can be copied infinitely, what does ownership even mean? In a world of perpetual art forgery, who can say what it means to possess something? These questions matter even more for creators and artists – if everything can be copied, do you have any claim to your art?

This is the space where NFTs shine. By offering artists and collectors a way to definitively prove ownership of a given piece of art, we will enter a new era of digital art. The artists of the future will be able to mint unique works of art and sell the data for them, verified by blockchain technology, to ensure authenticity. The future of art is the same as the future of humanity: digital! By embracing technology and combining it with unbridled creativity, art can be transformed into a form that will last the test of time.

Trevor Jones - NFTs Art for sale
Trevor Jones Art. The artist has become one of the most important artists minting NFTs.

What are NFTs?

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves! In order to express the revolutionary nature of NFT technology, we need to first give an idea about what we’re dealing with. An NFT is a Non-Fungible Token used to create a unique identity for just about anything. Fungibility refers to the property of a commodity that is interchangeable with another: an ounce of gold has a single value at any moment in time, no matter which specific ounce of gold it is. A NFT, on the other hand, is not interchangeable at all, meaning that each and every token is completely unique.

By keeping track of these tokens with a blockchain – a digital ledger – NFTs can be traded, sold, and bought just like any other commodity. These ledgers are all public and able to be accessed at any time, giving everyone involved in a transaction confidence that their deal is authentic. While the technology is still in its infancy, and legislation regarding NFT sale and ownership is still fresh ground being tread, the potential for artists to claim digital rights to their content is tremendous.

Any art form can benefit from the unique ID that NFTs provide: whether you are a musician making new music, a photographer shooting breathtaking landscapes, or a fine artist who paints canvases and uploads them to an online profile, artists being able to claim their intellectual property rights in a wholly digital space is something that has never been done before, and something that desperately needs to be done. No one can truly own anything online right now and this is a problem that’s only going to get worse.

Beeple Crap art - by Mike Winkelmann
Beeple topped the best-selling NFT artist list. His auction with Christie’s was a major milestone for the crypto art world, as it offered established artists their first opportunity to be sold in traditional auctions and accepted cryptocurrency payments.

The Issues with Digital Art

Right now, the internet is still in its relative infancy. When it comes to intellectual property, it truly is a wild west out there. From rampant piracy to Google image search, it seems that anything that gets uploaded online will inevitably be copied, stolen, or re-uploaded to a competing website. This makes it rather precarious for any artist trying to earn a living from their art, or for any collector looking for certainty about their collection.

In short, digital art has an ownership and authenticity problem both for creators and supporters. Traditional media was bound by the physical world: paintings needed a canvas to be painted on, songs needed physical storage in order to be listened to, and even things like games needed boards and pieces. With these limits, it simply wasn’t possible to bootleg or forge art en masse. Sure, every now and then someone could bring a video camera to a movie theater and sell VHS tapes after the fact, but the scale was nowhere near what the internet provides today.

With the digital world we currently live in, everything is infinite and ephemeral. Any file can be copied any number of times and any copy can be distributed to as many people as are interested in having it. In a world where everyone owns everything, does anyone own anything? For many artists, the answer is a resounding no: their labors of love are gone completely uncompensated, making it much more difficult for any struggling artist to earn a living.

Not Even Classics are Safe

Part of the reason that breathtaking masterpieces have value is because they were created by the geniuses of mankind and only exist in one place at one time. The Mona Lisa is one of the best examples of this: being on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris since 1797, only da Vinci’s original exists. This scarcity and this testament to the human urge to safeguard and cherish beauty give the masterpiece a sense of awe and majesty. Because of this veneration, the painting is also completely priceless (although it does hold the Guinness World Record for the largest painting insurance valuation in history).

But even the Mona Lisa can’t stand up to the ravages of the digital frontier. Anyone with an internet connection can easily see the picture, save it to their hard drive, and call upon it whenever they want. They can take it to a local print store (or simply use their own equipment) and print any number of copies they want, of any size. The Mona Lisa’s unique and powerful nature has been completely usurped by technology and can’t ever recover from it.

Mona Lisa NFTs

Of course the original still exists and of course it is unique – the Mona Lisa still is one of the most visited paintings in history – but with digital copies, much of the majesty is removed. In order to truly immortalize human creativity and ingenuity, another alternative is needed. Without this alternative, why should anyone go and see the Mona Lisa in person? After all, Google is just a few keyboard-taps away. Then, a priceless painting can be yours with a simple right-click, save-as.

A Future with Certitude

This is where NFTs offer a unique future for art and for the future of mankind. With our daily lives becoming more and more digitally-focused, having scarcity and claims of ownership be redefined for the new, technological age enables art to flourish. Art only has meaning when it isn’t infinite – when it’s a concrete product that can’t be mindlessly copied. With digital exclusivity, artists from around the world can finally and emphatically claim their intellectual property as their own.

Not only that, but new artistic endeavors can and will emerge because of the NFT space. Astronart NFTs are merely one example, but the concept has limitless potential: by creating series of artistic works from up-and-comers and huge contemporary artists, NFTs can both provide a stable income for artists and offer collectors a timeless, unique piece of art that they own definitively.

Ultimately this all leads us to a new idea for human creativity. By expanding the reach of our unique, individual creations, we can ensure that art will be saved intact in a digital space for as long as that digital space exists. As it stands right now, the internet and the future Metaverse shows no signs of fading, meaning that any art created now can be truly immortalized with an NFT.

karl lagerfeld legacy
Karl Lagerfeld NTFs. – A poinnet in digital fashion.

Cataloging the Human Mind

This process of perpetual data identification and intellectual property safeguarding will also extend backwards in time to anything that has ever been created. This will allow unique, identifiable information to be attached to any piece of art, music, movie, or anything else for the rest of time. In short, not only can any new creation be immortalized, but so too can the earliest creations that humans have wrought. NFTs can offer the intellectual properties of all of mankind to be carried into the future forever in a verifiable, non-fungible way.

The most important things humans have ever done are almost all artistic in some way. Art is the creative force that guides and gives meaning to human life. Being able to cherish it forever in a permanent form honors the memories and effort that our forefathers gave to their craft and will allow their work to be enjoyed by the generations to come. There is nothing more important or beautiful than the permanent safeguarding of human masterpieces!

The Future is Art

As projects evolve in the NFT space on a daily basis, it’s important to recognize the value of the technology that underlies them. No matter if NFTs are being used frivolously and selling copy-pasted memes from Facebook, or whether it’s being used to safeguard and retain the identity of the Mona Lisa itself, the blockchain data works identically. Technology is all about how it is used, not any specific instance of its use. While NFTs have critics, the foundational argument will always be the same: in a world without property rights, how can you create ownership? Just because human beings are operating more and more in a digital space doesn’t mean we can’t bring the real world with us. NFTs allow us to do this, and give us the power to collect and save the very best that humanity has to offer.

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