We’ve always had mediums of exchange. Some of them are physical and tangible (the most recent manifestation of which is good-old cash), some are digital and intangible (like the whole Crypto family, including NFT).
Well… nowadays, mostly the second. China is busy testing digital yuan, Russia keeps pace testing its digital ruble, Visa/Master Card are normalizing Cryptocurrency.
We are already in the era of global currency digitalization, and the tough-named guy responsible for it is Blockchain.
About one of the most active features of this technology now – about the NFT (Non-fungible token) was “NFT Art Exhibition’’ organized by “GSD Art Club” and “Odd Republic”, which took place on December 20-21 in Yerevan in the “Two Arks” Art Space. The event featured works by local and international graphic artists, which can be purchased through the NFT.
Lead 3D Artist in “GSD Art Club” Mkrtich Stepanyan, two of whose 3D models were also presented at the event, said the company started out as a freelance venue by offering 3D modeling services on the Upwork freelance platform.
“Later, after exploring and integrating NFT technology into our production, we decided to help other freelancers by providing them with a variety of 3D tools, from related software and resources to organizational and implementation support. We also organize courses for beginner freelance artists who can join the platform and gain the necessary knowledge and skills, using them in their future activities”.
I talked to the organizers of the exhibition about their initiative, the collections shown and tried to find out what is happening in the NFT/Blockchain local/global domain and what opportunities this vista will open in the near future.
Anna Harutyunyan, Project manager in “GSD Art Club”
– Anna, what is our public awareness about NFT and Blockchain, and what can be done to make it more recognizable and applicable?
– There are many NFT-related events that are held in Armenia, but, unfortunately, mainly spreading disinformation. We decided, as an organization with more than a year of experience in the scope, to tell and show what all this fuss is about. Public awareness is not high, as a rule, people from different places have scanty information about NFT/Blockchain, which is only vaguely similar to the full picture. NFT has great potential because in the near future almost all types of transactions will be implemented through NFTs. That’ll open up many new opportunities.
We, “GSD Art Club” and “Odd Republic”, jointly plan to further develop the NFT industry in Armenia, organize topical events, create a platform that will unite, assist and coordinate other organizations wishing to create NFT collections.
– How do digital local artists themselves feel about NFT integration, and how open are they to selling their art using this technology?
– They’re very excited about it. In fact, the event was launched with their initiative, too. Yesterday we had a private exhibition attended by the authors of the works presented here. The artists are more than enthusiastic and interested in the development of the NFT industry, they do their best to contribute to the scope.
– How will NFT facilitate the evolution of digital art, business in general, and other related fields?
-Yes, there is a very common stereotype that NFT only sells digital art. Anything can be sold with NFT. This stemmed from a misunderstanding that the catchy deals were mostly digital, such as Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, which sold for $2.9 m, followed by a Nyan Cat meme ($600,000), after which the trend was maintained. A range of digital artists started selling their arts with NFT. Now, however, the industry is expanding and branching out and is by no means limited to digital art. It’s quite possible that in the nearest future even real estate transactions will be made through the NFT because lawyers are already retraining in blockchain to be able to contract such transactions.
– Which collections of Armenian digital artists sold through NFT would you mention, whether they were sold on the local or global marketplace?
– Our digital artist collections are exclusively sold in the international NFT market because there is no local market/community to buy them. For example, the “Gambling Apes” we first hit the NFT market with, “Angry Apes” which sold out in 5 minutes. We also have the “Astro Babies” collection showcasing at this event, created by our freelancers. It had also been a success.
Arman Vardanyan Co-founder, CEO of “Odd Republic”
– Arman, please tell me about “Odd Republic”, your initiative and the exhibition itself.
-“Odd Republic” is a freelance platform specializing in the NFT market. We help clients and enthusiasts create NFT Collections by introducing them to Armenian freelancers, specifically artists, 3D designers, and generally with artists who create collectibles. We also provide NFT/Blockchain-related software, in other words, the technology of converting a simple digital image to NFT.
– The exhibition basically is educational and informative, which aims to show that the NFT market is rapidly evolving all over the world and that we have local artists who are already working in this market․ Also inform our illustrators, 3D designers, experienced and junior artists working in more traditional IT fields that it is definitely worth getting into the NFT industry, which is truly exciting and challenging. We seek to grow a local network of NFT artists.
-How do you picture the NFT/AI symbiosis, how inclusive and deep will this synergy be?
– The symbiosis of NFT and AI actually already exists in certain aspects. There are collections that are completely generative art. There are already images created by AI, of course still in a minimalist style, however, the NFT/AI interaction is already underway. The tendency already exists and tends to develop rapidly. I don’t rule out that the blooming of the Metaverse will also lead to a deeper integration of AI, bringing that symbiosis to a more constructive, institutional level. The NFT/AI alliance will go far beyond just AI-powered image creating. That development phase will mark the entry of AI into the scope of Blockchain technologies. These two areas have great potential for dialogue.
– What is the potential of NFT in the Art/Business collaboration context?
– To be honest, NFT is more business than art ․ It’s a great way to invest. In this field art typically acts as a tool. People create NFT Collections in Blockchain technologies, using them in metaverses, games, various ongoing projects.
NFT is not just about buying and selling images ․ If in the previous two years NFT was circulated mainly among art enthusiasts, today it has become a full-scale business model. Of course, it remains an art platform, too. For example, the Foundation, a blockchain-based platform selling unique art, where famous artists present their works, as opposed to Open Sea, where large collections are sold.
– How will the NFT contribute to the decentralization of the global economy?
– In a very direct way, because it is one of the logical extensions of DeFi (Decentralized finance) technology. NFT enables ownership in the Blockchain system without third-party mediation with a special certificate indicating that the purchased item, be it an image, music, or real estate, is unique and belongs exclusively to the acquirer. Now we see only the beginning of the NFT market, which is really gaining momentum, mainly due to the fact that NFTs are the only usable currency in the Blockchain system in Metaverse.
– What do you think are the obstacles and drivers for NFT technology?
– One of the obstacles, as in the case of Blockchain/Cryptocurrency around the world, is that the market is still unstable. Many still fear that one day the NFT will burst like any economic bubble. Which, I think, isn’t far from the truth, but to say that, like the ICO (Initial Coin Offering), it will explode is wrong, as we already have a self-sufficient NFT infrastructure. With NFTs people create business projects, diverse initiatives, and perspectives. The NFT market, too, obeying the basic rules of the economic cycle, is approaching its development apex. Next, it might slow down, at some point, it can fall, rise again. The factor of trust is no less important. There are many profiteers in the NFT market, as well as in other commercial models.
But I think there are more drivers because looking back at the history of cryptocurrencies, we can see that NFT is going through the same process. We can say that this is the second life of cryptocurrency, per se it reflects the same challenges that existed in previous incarnations.
Interview by Ani Mardoyan
Content writer, digital media enthusiast
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