Art, NFTs, and the Metaverse

Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are all the rage these days and barely a week goes by without some new story breaking about how a metaverse-dwelling artist has launched a new gallery in their digital realm of choice with walls adorned with staggeringly expensive NFT art. 

If you’ve been asleep for the last few months, you’d be forgiven for being completely lost right now. You may be asking ‘what is an NFT?’ ‘What have they got to do with art?’ and ‘why are they so valuable?’

Before you open your digital cheque book to buy the latest work from the artist, Beeple, let’s lift the lid and take a look at what’s happening in this crazy new frontier of digital art. 

What is an NFT?

NFT stands for non-fungible token. As the name suggests, that’s token, that isn’t fungible. 

Something that is fungible can be mutually interchanged or replaced by anything that is identical to it. 

For example, Bitcoin is a fungible token. At any given time, all Bitcoins in existence are worth exactly the same amount. Swap one Bitcoin for another, and you have something that’s identical. An item that has been exactly replicated or mass-produced is also fungible.

Where something is completely unique, it is considered non-fungible. Anything that has its own intrinsic value with its own specific characteristics can be considered non-fungible. A non-fungible token is therefore a digital asset that is completely one-of-a-kind.

Theatre tickets are non-fungible. While you can swap them for different tickets, the seat number or performance date may be different as no two tickets are exactly the same. 

NFTs have been in existence since 2014, however, in the last year or so, hype around them has grown considerably, and they’ve started to become mainstream. 

How Do NFTs Work?

NFTs are exchanged using blockchain technology in much the same way as cryptocurrencies. A blockchain is a decentralised and encrypted public digital ledger that tracks and authenticates transactions across a network. 

When a creator produces an artwork or product as an NFT, this can be traded in an online marketplace. The details of the transaction will be recorded in the blockchain, and ownership of the NFT will be transferred to you.

Once you’ve bought your NFT, you can do what you want with it. In the case of works of art, many collectors are opening digital art galleries in metaverses such as Decentraland.

Some people are reselling NFTs they’ve bought. In late 2020, an art collector in Miami snapped up artist Beeple’s 10-second video of pedestrians walking past and ignoring a prostrated statue of Donald Trump. The cost: $67,000. 

Fast-forward five months, and the same art collector sold the NFT for a cool $6.6 million. 

NFTs in the Metaverse

Anyone who wants to experience these wonderful works of arts can often do so with much greater ease than jumping on a plane to duck into the Louvre to look at the Mona Lisa. 

With many browser and VR-based metaverses already in existence, getting your fix of what’s classed as culture these days is effortless. 

In addition to Decentraland, digital realms such as Cryptovoxels, NFT Oasis, and Sandbox are also home to a growing number of virtual curated spaces.

It’s predicted that in years to come, metaverse galleries will become home to NFT versions of many real-life treasures, meaning you may one day be able to see the Elgin Marbles, Picasso’s ‘Guernica’, and Van Goch’s ‘Starry Night’ from anywhere in the world. 

Thinking of Investing in NFTs?

While it’s apparent that there is certainly a considerable profit to be made trading NFT art works, but before you spend a single Dogecoin or Ethereum, ask yourself do you really need to spend thousands on a framed meme that will be irrelevant within the month? Maybe it’s best to enjoy other people’s NFT galleries from the comfort of your VR goggles.

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