NFT ‘Revolution’ in Digital Art: Here is What Experts Believe
For some it is a revolution in the art economy, for others, it is a financial bubble or even fraud. We asked the experts about non-fungible token (NFT), the new trend in the digital world.
Blockchain expert and academician İsmail Hakkı Polat, the owner of the first large-scale NFT sales in Turkey, illustrator Tarık Tolunay, and art technologies writer Tuğçe Kaprol explained NFTs.
According to İsmail Hakkı Polat’s definition, NFT, that is, a non-fungible token, can be translated as a digital pedigree or digital property certificate.
These digital certificates record and preserve the authenticity of a digital asset, its history, and its ownership status through the operation of the blockchain and taking advantage of the indestructibility of this blockchain.
“In this sense, we come across as a very important attraction for the audience and fan masses of the collectors of sectors such as culture, arts, games, and sports,” says Polat.
Artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, sold a digital artwork for $69.3 million on March 11, which has been interpreted as a milestone for digital art. Alongside digital artists, musicians and sports clubs have discovered that they can generate financial income from previously free digital content through NFT.
According to Polat, the sale of Winkelmann is important, but NFT sales do not only cover digital art: “The image of an important dunk of Lebron James was sold by the NBA organization for 208 thousand dollars in an auction attended by 400,000 people. The organization is known to have generated $230 million to date from such NFT auctions.”
Another important sale belongs to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Sina Estavi, a business person of Turkish origin, bought Dorsey’s first tweet 15 years ago when he was establishing the platform, as NFT, for $ 2.9 million.
Polat says that NFT can be seen as an investment area, just like painting collectors: “Of course, if it is legitimized by the regulations and by the states, something will happen. It will force the system anyway; In this sense, states will have to regulate this area together with cryptocurrencies.”
One of the most important question marks in people’s minds is why millions of dollars are paid for digital content that everyone can access.
According to Polat, this is because that certification itself is very important:
“There are imitations of the Mona Lisa painting, but experts say that the Mona Lisa painting in the Louvre Museum is the original and valuable. Certification in NFT is actually that expert opinion.”
Polat explains the other reason with the words “If NFT is going to be an industry, it will be a little bit forced by the industry itself”:
“It will be said that in this digital world, these are considered original works, even if you take a photo of it, you do not own it, you are a derivative user. In that sense, there will be new originality techniques in this digital world and it will bring some innovations in terms of singularity.”
Tarık Tolunay, who lives in Istanbul and defines himself as an “urban artist”, stepped into the world of NFT in the last few weeks and made his first sales.
Five drawings produced by Tolunay as part of the “Fractal Istanbul” project, which he has been working on since 2010, were sold to two Iranian and Dubai collectors for approximately 150 thousand dollars.
Tolunay said, “If I had put a map of another city, it would not have attracted so much attention. Istanbul is one of the cult cities in the world.” He explains that he has adapted his work to a blockchain very easily:
“I create a visual world around an idea and deliver that world to people in any vehicle that comes my way. NFT is one of them right now, maybe another tool will come out tomorrow, I will try to convey my ideas and works to them through another communication tool.”
Tolunay states that NFT will eliminate the middlemen between artists and collectors and this is an advantage:
“Right now, if a young artist produces a painting in Turkey or in the world, let’s say that the work reaches the collector, let’s say 100 USD, the share of the artist here is almost 10 USD. The difference is collected by the intermediaries, which is unfair. Yes, there are intermediaries in the world of NFT, but currently, a 15 percent commission is taken on my sales. It is a relatively fair situation.”
Stating that the question “Why does someone pay thousands of dollars for a free image” is based on the idea that art is seen as a hobby in Turkey and that it will not cost money, Tolunay continues:
“In our geography, artists are already well-to-do types, they don’t have money problems, they don’t pay electricity or water bills, they draw as a hobby, and we consume it for free. Giving a work of art the value it deserves is a matter of culture. A rich bourgeois in Turkey goes to buy expensive cars, while a European bourgeois gets into an ordinary automobile, but longs to own a unique work of art in the world.”
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