NFTs, NFTs, NFTs. An eerie echo in the background of every virtual industry conference, it was just another buzzword of many in 2021. Or was it? As social interactions drift towards the metaverse and currency becomes more abstract than ever, the monetisation of how we interact with art has inevitably entered a new digital era. And, as with most everything else that exists within capitalism, PoC need to figure out how to make it work for us. Here’s Pocc’s quick breakdown of what PoC creators need to know about NFTs for 2022:
1. What is an “NFT”?
“NFT” stands for “Non-fungible token”. While if you traded a bitcoin for another bitcoin, you’d be trading one token for another one that is exactly the same (in other words, it is fungible), an NFT a one-of-a-kind, stand-alone token.
In the real world, a piece of art has value because it is unique. In the digital realm, files can be endlessly duplicated, so with NFTs, digital artwork such as GIFs, memes and music can be “tokenised” to create a digital certificate that can be bought and sold.
A form of cryptocurrency, records of who owns which NFTs are stored on what we know as “blockchain”.
2. Why should I, a PoC creator, care about NFTs?
Black, brown and ESEA communities online are the architects of digital culture. TikTok wouldn’t be the platform it is without the creations of dances from Black TikTokers. And what would the internet look like without the immense influence of K-pop standom?
Besides the ever-increasing value of blockchain in general, PoC creators should be especially interested in a system that financially rewards our creativity in digital spaces.
3. How are PoC creators currently benefiting from NFTs?
Artists from marginalised communities have been able to increase their global reach through NFTs. Cultures that have previously been underrepresented in the art world are able to take advantage of digital spaces to amplify creators and their creations and tokenise their work in order to allocate recognition to the original creators.
Black NFT Art, an organisation run by creative agency Umba Daima is building a community around Black artists, amplifying Black leaders in the NFT space and helping artists to navigate it.
In July 2021, Crypto Art Week Asia featured over 300 of the biggest names in digital art in Asia. The event is the world’s largest crypto art showcase, enabling Asian artists an unprecedented level of influence and exposure in the global art world.
As has always been the case with diverse communities online, the advantage of art existing in a digital space for us is our ability to reach beyond geographical boundaries and come together to build each other up and exert our influence on a global stage. NFTs allow PoC artists to protect their work and monetise their creativity in a way that hasn’t been so possible in the past.
4. What’s the downside?
With the world of NFTs still somewhat in its infancy, there may be many disadvantages (and advantages) we are not yet able to see. However, there are some evident pitfalls.
NFTs are currently an all-speculative market. Because they’re so new, their worth is determined entirely on speculation, so it’s nearly impossible to gauge a long-term investment.
Like with physical art, it’s possible for NFTs to be stolen or duplicated. Hackers can steal the tokens, while owners cannot control duplication or distribution of the art. Just because someone owns the “original”, they cannot stop a “print” from being made.
Most importantly, blockchain technology has a severe environmental impact. The energy consumption of the servers used to store and mine cryptocurrencies is gigantic, and with a global grid that still runs largely off of fossil fuels, it’s contributing heavily to the climate emergency. NFTs are therefore naturally inheriting this fundamental disadvantage. We have to consider that this new creative phenomenon may be helping PoC artistic communities to secure the bag, but the climate crisis is disproportionately affecting our communities around the world.
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Cover & Banner image: Bored Ape Yacht Club