UK-based mixed media and digital artist Ophelia Fu has a new digital art show that you and anyone else with lockdown-inspired cabin fever can view in a virtual world powered by the Ethereum blockchain. Published on Agora Digital Art on 18 December 2020
This new exhibition will showcase digital artworks by way of a kind of tokenised crypto art called non-fungible tokens (NFTs). INK Artwork, her online gallery space, has previously showcased her NFTs through exhibitions, rotating every few weeks or months so you can not only enjoy, but also buy her digital artworks. The show, titled Encapsulating Mindful Moments, is available at her online gallery space from December 21 until January 21, 2021.
This online gallery is developed in the ethereum-blockchain-based digital platform cryptovoxels, a type of immersive virtual fiefdom ruled by crypto-empowered overlords commonly known as a virtual blockchain world (VW). It appears to be visually and experientially inspired by Minecraft with its 3D blocks. As you enter the gallery, you walk around a 3D space displaying a large sign with the title and description of the exhibition. There are even what looks like windows with daylight outside, which makes it less claustrophobic as you interact with other visitors queueing to sign in. Finally, as you navigate around the place, each 3D block of gallery is a single piece of digital artwork, with its title, that you can click on to view and buy.
Given 2020’s current climate with the pandemic, so many galleries and museums have been closed and there is less art available to enjoy in person. These cryptovoxel galleries offer art lovers and collectors an alternative place to consume art, and for digital artists, they are an opportunity to showcase and sell their work.
Fu combines various media to create her unique pieces of digital art. In her own words, her work “explores the human condition, balancing on the fringes between reality and an imagined world.” Appearing within the artwork, her surreal animated gifs and digital collages contain elements taken from traditional media such as ink drawing, photography and printmaking. Fu can be seen as a social digital artist in that she often collaborates with writers, as in the upcoming exhibition, but also other artists across the globe that she connects with on the various blockchain platforms where she shows her artwork.
Fu can be considered an early adopter among female digital artists, having started showcasing and selling her art on blockchain platforms such as Dada.nyc and Steemit in 2016 moving on later to digital art marketplaces such as SuperRare and KnownOrigin. These marketplaces have allowed her to showcase and sell the limited editions of her NFTs to discerning art collectors who were there to shop and collect digital art. She is also one of the few female digital artists to steadily and successfully sell her crypto art on these platforms, (according to The Blockchain Art Directory).
Although many mainstream new media artists have been reluctant to take up NFTs (some still consider it an arcane technology) their popularity has grown over the last year as artists see the value in tokenising the digital artwork they create. When the art is created and added to an online gallery, a token is generated by a smart contract and deposited in the artist’s wallet. Once the artists sell the digital artwork, which is now an NFT, can profit from it.
Similarly, art collectors are also starting to see the value of NFTs, including those in the traditional art marketplace. Earlier this year in October, auction house Christie’s had its first blockchain-related auction in New York. Robert Alice’s NFT Block 21, from his Portraits of a Mind collection, originally estimated to sell between $12,000 and $18,000, sold for $131,250. The work was sold seven times its original estimate.
The benefit for the art collector in acquiring an NFT is that the tokenised digital artwork has a token permanently linked to it. This represents the asset’s ownership and authenticity and therefore they will always be able to trace the current owner and the original via this token. According to Giovanni Colavizza, assistant professor of Digital Humanities at the University of Amsterdam to Cointelegraph “It [the token] makes it much easier to garner commercial value because someone can actually ‘own’ the original.” She also added: “It is extremely important for digital art; tokenisation allows us to exchange and create value from forms of art which previously were problematic.”
It’s still early days though and NFTs remain a niche with art collectors even though the popularity is growing. These investment musings aside, we’re invited to immerse ourselves in the virtual gallery Fu’s created, to view, enjoy and connect with Fu’s compelling digital illustrations and storytelling at this upcoming exhibition.