The year is 2022. PlayStation Fives are on backorder because of chip shortages, we haven’t figured out sustainable farming, and I can’t seem to get on Instagram or Twitter without an NFT finding a way into my feed.
So this is what the future looks like, but what does the future of NFTs look like?
Since first breaking their way into a more mainstream and public eye, the conversation surrounding the art world and NFTs has not quieted.
From digital autographs and baseball cards to music, gifs, videos, pictures, and just about any other source of digital visual media, the truth is NFTs are proving themselves to be less and less of a trend and are making a more concrete name for themselves in our world. It seems like the future is here and it’s here to stay, whether you like it or not.
Artist Kenny Schrachter explains that “NFTs are not art in the same way Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia and a pipe is not a pipe. Art is defined by the intent of the artist, not by a gratuitous sweeping generalization by some dumbass contributor to an anonymous website.”
There seems to be a sort of fear, regarding the relationship between the Art world and NFTs, where mass production, profit, and legacy are all at stake.
When Andy Warhol first started making works, pulling inspiration from American consumerist iconography, the art world and critics seemed to look in shame, confusion, and disgust. In his lifetime, Warhol only ever saw his ‘factory’-made art go for a couple thousand dollars. Fast forward a few decades and “Warhol’s iconic portrait of actress Marilyn Monroe, titled ‘Shot Sage Blue Marilyn,’ is on the auction block and could fetch an estimated $200 million when it’s up for bidding in May.
Alex Rotter, Christie’s chairman of 20th and 21st century art, said that if that price was achieved, it would set a new record for 20th century paintings.”
Warhol was questioned and criticized for straying away from traditional artist themes and iconography of royalty, still lifes, or expressionistic abstraction, and it seems we are now giving NFTs the same treatment. “NFT artists do not, for the most part, obliquely cite Western art history in a way that only the MFA-educated can understand. They do not revere museums like the MoMA and the Tate, or galleries like Gagosian and David Zwirner. Their art references the history of video games, pixel art, comic books, AI, sci-fi, concert graphics, and other histories that have not been canonized by museums or universities.” and at that, they have already broken records within their short lifespan with CryptoPunk #7523 selling for $11.75 million and Everydays: the first 500 days piece selling for $69.3 million.
Could it be that the art world feels threatened by the new, young, rebellious teen in the creative scene? A future free of snotty art collectors and curators, where artists are free from creative controls and pull inspiration and reference current events and culture?
While it is difficult for many to look past a million-dollar pixelated picture of an ape (and I would still much rather a future where I can have a Tron Light bike), there is no denying that NFTs have the potential to reshape the art scene, the creative world, and ultimately become cultural catalysts in our inevitably digital futures.
Recently, I took some time to get away from emails, assignments, and family and cooped up to watch some of my favorite future-set classics: Blade Runner, Tron, and Iron Man. I’m not here to argue which Tron is better or whether or not Ryan Gosling did justice to the role of the iconic Officer K. I’m here to remind you (in case you haven’t noticed) that we are already living in a future that consists of a Metaverse, blockchains, pixelated pictures of apes, and oh boy is it different than we expected.