The new phenomenon of the three-letter NFT and the symbiotic relationship of a digital file to a blockchain has been widely discussed in 2021. What is still intangible for many is that an NFT cannot be specified, but can be anything that exists immaterially or physically: a picture, a sneaker, fashion, thoughts, real estate, cars, cats, watches, moments, domains, videos, music, love stories, etc.
Avatar projects such as CryptoPunks, Bored Apes or CloneX have proven to be very successful. Through the recognisability of these serial avatars, which are created on the basis of a basic motif modified into individual characteristics, an addictive identification with the respective project and at the same time pictorial orientation within the infinite offers in the NFT space succeeds.
Besides avatars, the loop is a much consumed NFT creation. Ideally between 15 and 30 seconds long, the loop gives an infinite image of a visual performance. Loops are dropped, auctioned and traded with great popularity on almost all NFT platforms.
The widespread colouring of NFTs corresponds to that of the CyperPunk worlds: purple, pink or metallic blue dominate the themes around cyborg, science fiction or anime.
There is no completely new visual expression, only visualisations that refer to old worlds. But how could this be otherwise in a time in which art has seemingly played through everything imaginable, let off steam with conceptual, abstract, minimalist, futuristic, performative and even immaterial works.
But what is truly novel about the NFT phenomenon is its definition through the medium, which has become software and thus reflects an infinite number of possible applications, including a peer-to-peer network that brings producer and consumer into direct exchange.
NFTs are the result of a rapid development of digital tools in the age of pandemonium, their linkage to a blockchain leads to a decentralisation of cultural assets, their success results from the collective self-expression of social media net culture.
An NFT requires actors and these actors are socialised into a culture of image and information overload, extremely future-oriented and enthusiastic about technology.
They interact in communities, specific interaction patterns are the exchange and representation of the collected assets preferably on Twitter and Discord, mostly with deposited short texts, highlighted by emojis. The active interaction of the actors on the basis of a decentralised system that guarantees transparency, distinguishes non-owners from owners, and exposes any forgeries, leads to a new relationship between image and recipient. Images are no longer consumed in dialogue with the observer, but serve the purpose of dialogue with the world, the cosmos and the metaverse unrestricted in time and space. Consequently, images are received collectively. Their owners are exposed to the pressure or fun of constant sharing and communication on social networks, through which spontaneous, new relationships emerge and in turn trigger diverse reactions. NFTs cannot therefore be reduced to a new medium of art, but must be understood in the context of diverse practices that stand in performative relation to each other. The fact that all internet users can like, share and comment on the NFTs creates a collective of like-minded people and a viral circulation process of NFT projects, which in turn creates fertile ground for new ideas and concepts.
The culture of the NFTs seems very playful at the moment, but like any culture, it will become institutionally anchored over time through the adaptation of new habitual patterns. Institutions already exist in the metaverse.
The Metaverse is the future space for communication and consumption, a virtual world shaped by virtual reality and augmented reality that exists independently of any single user. The metaverse is a place that goes beyond traditional notions of space. It can be entered and exited permanently, without time limit, its scale is infinite, so are the possibilities. The metaverse is a new social place, but also a future environment of digital economy, where land, houses, cars, watches, shoes and even art become the property of users. NFTs have quickly become the status symbol of a digitally native crypto community. Some brands like Adidas, Nike or Gucci have recognised this and are moving their brands into the metaverse with new concepts. NFTs and tokenisation regulate copyrights and ownership rights so that new digital business models can be mapped onto them – without the intermediary needed in the traditional world. New professions, new opportunities and new value creation systems will emerge in the metaverse. The creator community is currently the most in demand.
Immaterial consumption still sounds utopian, but it will soon become reality. Avatar conferences, digital leisure experiences and ownership in the metaverse will soon become the norm. Those who already invest in digital assets and cryptocurrencies today and thus build up capital for the future will be at an advantage.
Many things are still in their infancy. Legal questions are still largely unanswered. A new digital capitalism must be avoided. The one-sided profit of big companies that trade with our data must not be allowed to spill over into Web 3.0 under any circumstances. The metaverse will be what we humans make of it. In any case, a rethinking of the current social conditions will be necessary.