An opinion of Rayan Kassir, co-founder of digital art publisher From Belgium Witloof – Digital art from a surreal country.
Art, as Ernst Bloch said, is a ‘laboratory’ in which, starting from a few shards of reality, the contours are imagined and formed of what he called it ‘not yet’.
At the beginning of the 21st century, these shards are digital. They invade our lives, organize them, entertain them, sometimes monopolize them, distort them when we surrender to them, and carry germs that will no doubt accompany our lives and those of our descendants.
It was therefore inevitable that the digital revolution would lead to a decompartmentalization of art, one of the first controversial manifestations of which can be summarized in a three-letter acronym: NFT (for Non Fungible Token).
As a reminder, an NFT is a digital file stored on a blockchain, to which a digital certificate of authenticity is attached. Traditionally, the ownership and authenticity of many assets (works of art, valuables, land titles, etc.) have been checked by often inefficient digital or paper-based systems that have flaws in transfer and control.
Today, and while our topic pertains to the art market, it is important to clarify that NFTs can be used for different and varied fields ranging from art to digital identity identifiers and titles.
Indeed, the invention of NFTs can be applied to a wide variety of fields because by using the digital signature scheme specific to blockchains it becomes easy to verify the authenticity of an asset, by tracing its history and identify different owners, reducing the risk of fraud when transferring assets to new owners.
A silent ideological struggle
Art in its essence requires the permanent invention of new techniques, the emergence of new forms and the consecration of new movements, all of which are opposed, denounced and ridiculed at the outset. In this constant quest for expansion, art is an instrument of emancipation and revolution, the most successful of which is that which is able to best represent the outside world (Aristotle).
NFTs thus represent a new disruptive social space that overturns codes and forces innovation. As in any movement, change is scary and leaves room for a multitude of questions for those who struggle to detect opportunities and innovations.
The rise of the world of artistic NFTs, therefore, embodies a silent ideological struggle, which has continuously stifled years of protectionism and cultural relativism, and thus strangely resembles the birth of the Surrealist movement.
For the benefit of artists
For artists, one of the major changes that have helped NFTs to their advantage is resale right. How many works have been sold and exchanged without the artists ever benefiting from the economic benefits of valuing the value of such and such creation? NFTs provide a solution to this problem by offering the artist compensation on each resale.
In an age of Web 3.0 decentralization, NFTs offer exceptional legal and technical benefits as all transactions are guaranteed by the blockchain and its smart contracts.
In 2021, the NFT market reached a total volume of $44 billion.
This dazzling ability to democratize art, by giving it a new visibility with planetary dimensions, broadens its horizons and expands its reach by reaching a new audience that discovers, designs and consumes its codes according to different precepts.
Millions of people are now moments away from unlimited access to art and the works that affect them. To the delight of our artists.
It is especially in this that NFTs are an opportunity and not a mirage.