Grimes, Beeple, Logan Paul, the creator of Nyan Cat, and many other artists and celebrities make big bucks selling digital image ownership.
Chris Torres, the artist who created Nyan Cat for the first time, recently “embossed” a new GIF of the famous internet meme that sold for over $ 470,000 in Ethereum cryptocurrency in February 2020.
Grimes sold 10 images of digital artwork, the most expensive for nearly $ 400,000, to someone who wanted ownership of the online goods.
These works of art are called NFTs or “non-fungible tokens” and exist on a similar blockchain technology as Bitcoin to prove their “ownership”.
In an internet based on distributing images for free via social media platforms, the idea of tying ownership to a specific, single image that you didn’t create is peculiar – but it’s not new.
The idea has exploded lately due to the rise of cryptocurrency technologies and the desire for more ownership – and monetization options – for their craft.
A non-fungible token (NFT) denotes a digital item that belongs to the person who bought it. In economics, fungibility is the property of a good to be exchangeable or replicable. For example, if you send a photo from your phone to someone else via SMS, the data and the picture will be replicated.
The NFT doesn’t stop this replication – you could still take a screenshot of a digital work of art or share a Nyan Cat GIF – but it does show who “belongs” to an original image – just as your passport photo includes your name too. Age and an identification number. Mere possession of a picture of your passport doesn’t make that person you, and the principle here applies to NFTs.
While NTFs exist on a blockchain like the cryptocurrencies with which they were purchased, there are a number of other differences: NFTs are indestructible on the blockchain, not divisible and can always be traced back to the original creator.
The CryptoKitties game, where players swapped digital kitties on the Ethereum blockchain, was hugely popular in 2017. Different cats – or pictures of cats – had different “properties” and users swapped them to collect different digital animals.
Christie’s auction house recently opened its first digital art auction with work by Mike Winkelmann, aka Beeple, in a collection called. carried out Everyday life: the first 5000 days, which sold for $ 69 million (£ 49.4 million).
CryptoPunks, where algorithmically generated characters can be auctioned, are also traded and traded like a more expensive version of Pokémon or trading cards. Last year, over 6,000 of these characters were traded at an average price of $ 16,000 each.
For some artists, NFTs are a way of making money from digital art. Royalties can be built directly into the artwork so that the creator receives a cut every time the artwork is sold. This can be an attractive prospect for potential meme traders looking to make money off of the images they create.
“It gives power to the creator,” said Chris Torres, creator of Nyan Cat. “The Creator originally owns it, and then he can sell it and make money and get credit for his work right away.”
This is often a criticism that online artists have lamented, with high profile accounts sharing their creations with no payment or attribution an internet in which authorship is not prioritized.
Depending on how easy or difficult it is to create artwork, it can also be a quick way to make money for celebrities. Grimes sold $ 6 million worth of digital artwork in less than 20 minutes.
These works of art are so highly valued that physical art is so valuable for the same reason – the rarity of NFTs and the fat wallets of people with enough cryptocurrency to buy them.
In addition, the volatility of the market, where NFTs can rise and fall very quickly, means that only people with enough disposable income are protected from bad investments. This in turn speaks for the rich.
The obvious downside is that, unlike a unique painting or sculpture, owning a digital work of art doesn’t stop anyone from “owning” it. You can download and “own” the content from the Grimes Twitter page by having a copy to distribute.
“I don’t find NFTs attractive as a platform for publishing art,” said v buckenham, a London-based digital artist The guard.
“The point of owning a work of art is to look at it and enjoy it – and buying an NFT won’t help you. An NFT is just an entry in a fancy database claiming that you “own” the artwork. The only thing it’s good for is that you can later sell that database entry to someone else. “
There’s also the environment that cryptocurrency technology is currently at odds with. It is estimated that the energy used to mine Bitcoin is higher than that used by entire countries. In a year, Bitcoin uses roughly as much electricity as Norway or almost three times as much as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Google combined.
“The crypto infrastructure is mainly based on fossil fuels (64 percent of global electricity: coal 38 percent, oil and gas 26 percent). The CO2 emissions combined with a steady increase in consumption are driving us towards a climate apocalypse, ”French artist Joanie Lemercier explains in a blog post the reasons why she canceled her crypto-art publication.
Defenders will say that much of Bitcoin’s energy consumption comes from renewable sources, as well as the fact that Bitcoin is finite and cannot be mined forever, but the final Bitcoin is unlikely to be mined until around 2140.
The race is therefore between the question of whether the Bitcoin network can adapt to environmental concerns before the consequences of climate change – malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress – become a complete reality.