Are NFTs Real Art? Four Artists, One Questionby@benjaminbateman
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Are NFTs Real Art? Four Artists, One Question

by Ben BatemanApril 25th, 2021
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Non-fungible tokens, NFTs, aren't new in themselves, but the recent wave of hype surrounding them is a Pandora's box of intrigue, controversy, and big money. The 69 million dollar Christie's auction of "Everyday — The first 5000 days" by the artist known as Beeple stunned even the most ardent of digital art aficionados. Sasha Pivovarova, a fashion model for Prada, and starred in movies with Justin Timberlake, is one of four artists who spoke with me.

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While non-fungible tokens, NFTs, aren't new in themselves, the recent wave of hype surrounding them is a Pandora's box of intrigue, controversy, and big money. The 69 million dollar Christie's auction of "Everyday The first 5000 days" by the artist known as Beeple, stunned even the most ardent of digital art aficionados. And the jury is still out on the 2 .9million dollar sale of Jack's first tweet for those of us without money to chuck in the fire pit.

Although the inevitable big ticket items steal headlines, for every Beeple sold, there are a hundred or more Joe Blogs masterpieces being minted, only to grow dusty on the blockchain shelf.

So, what separates class from hash in a market anyone can enter for a few bucks of gas fees? Rather than pontificate on this problem with my own two brain cells, I thought it might be preferable to call upon those who know what they are talking about when it comes to the world of fine art.

Now, I'll be honest, when I put out the feelers to find out whom I could speak to in the Free TON ecosystem, I was not expecting to receive a reply from Sasha Pivovarova!

Aside from being the longest appearing fashion model for Prada (with over 19 campaigns for them under her belt), and starring in movies with Justin Timberlake, she also (somehow!) finds time to create incredible works of art. To say I'm a little star struck is an understatement! I'll be following up with Sasha to get more of her thoughts on NFTs, crypto and more, when further details can be revealed about her work.

To tease and tantalite your artist taste buds for now though, I've one simple question for her and the three other amazing artists kind enough to speak with me (Emmanuel_Flipo, Igor Vishnyakov and Artem Mirolevich):

"Are NFTs Real Art?"

Sasha Pivovarova

"I think NFTs are art on the same level as video art, performance art, fine art and photography. I often get the question 'Is photography an art?'. Everyone has an iPhone camera and can take a picture, but not everyone’s photos can be called art obviously! You have to have distinctive style, taste  and skills to produce photographs which can be considered art.

For me, it’s the same principle with NFTs. Not all NFTs are art, but if it’s made by an artist, then it’s art.

There are a lot of immature NFT pieces, but there is some gold too. People say you can’t put it on a wall, you can’t touch it, so how can it be real? But in our world when we have everything we need in our iPhones — from our health records  to stock apps and more — it’s very handy to have your art collection in your iPhone too! You can’t physically touch it, but also, you can’t lose it. Plus you can travel with it and show it to your friends, in much the same manner as you would show your collection on the wall."


"Are NFTs Real Art? The NFT: fiction or reality?

The work of art is a creation of the mind. As an artist-painter-performer, by creating a work, I project a fiction. Fiction is opposed to reality. The real being the seas, the oceans, the rivers, the mountains, the trees... In short: Nature.

Since Sapiens, man has the power to create fictions; art, myths, religions, money, human rights... The writer-historian Harari determined that fiction is an imaginary reality shared by a group of individuals in order to facilitate their collaboration. Beyond the process of creation, my works exist physically, but I believe they will only live through the eyes of others.

Since the advent of the web, the means at our disposal to discover art have multiplied: exhibitions, museums, virtual catalogues seen through our screens (computers, phones, tablets). When a digital work of art mutates into NFT, its "non-perfect" double (loss of sensory information linked to touch and light) still exists in a material way. Its dematerialization does not erase its own existence. The digital era leads us to revise the notion of property because it is a question here of virtual property. Before becoming virtual by the vector of communication used for its sharing, each of my works is, above all, created by the idea that I project through my eyes and painted with my hands.

However, the NFT, like any form of art, will remain inscribed in the order of fiction, and thus, in the non-real.

One of the major differences between a physical work and its digital double is certainly on the level of timelessness because a non-dematerialized work will be subject to the marks of time. Contrary to the NFT work which will be, from an aesthetic point of view, unwearable as long as there will be supports to convey it and of course electricity.

The technical borders between art and industry have fallen: the computer tools in digital art, architecture or video allow today the advent of NFT. Also, the weakening of the borders between major and minor art has largely favoured the idea that "everything is art". However, since well before the Renaissance, major art has always been a concept.

Therefore: yes, NFT is an art form."

Igor Vishnyakov

"For thousands of years artists worked with the stone, then wooden pallets, then paper, and canvas took over for 500000 years, and then plastic came along, and now, we have NFTs. An NFT is just a material, one which gives artists an ability to express themselves. It’s just a new media and instrument for an artist to express. It’s small, compact and you can work on it anywhere as long as you have a gadget and an idea rather then strategy.

An idea is what makes your heart tick. Every work of art tells a story, and it really does not matter which type of media was used."

Artem Mirolevich

"In a way , as far as I understand, it’s just a way to digitally store, present and trace the history of an art work. And not necessarily a digitally originated art work.

Myself, I probably wouldn’t pay more for artwork if it were housed on a blockchain, but, if the chain provided extra provenance, it could potentially convince me to buy the artwork, especially if a comparable piece didn’t have the same level of provenance.

As Manet said, 'The biggest compliment you can give to an artist is to buy his work'.

If NFTs are the new hot thing in the market then, their existence is inevitable and their presence will grow. This comes down to a new class of people, ready to buy new type of art. Just like the bourgeoisie became the buying power centuries ago, the new bourgeoisie is rising. But, this time, it’s all focused, figuratively speaking , around monitors and computer screens.

Another thought about your original question about if NFT is art; any form of self expression that creates new imagery, in a broad sense of the word, can be considered art. If this way for self expression also relies on the most modern technological discoveries of its age, it is most certainly contemporary art. If NFTs create a new language of communication with the viewer, creates new images which are different from previously existing forms, then it’s definitely a new form of art, or at least a new way to present fresh art.

Also, I want to speak praise for FreeTON once again. As far as I know, it’s the only reliable platform that allows you to participate with zero cost to the artist. On the contrary, you can earn through active participation which brings tangible results, and that’s meritocracy for you, at least as far as I understand it! To repeat, Artists, you don’t pay to play! This is huge! It sets FreeTON waaay above a vast majority of other platforms."


What have we learned today? Well, if nothing else, there is something big brewing behind the scenes with NFTs on FreeTON. Why else would these fabulous people be taking their time to speak with me after all?

I can't give away too many details just yet, but I can give hints that it may have something to do with this new proposal over on the FreeTON forums.

CryptoNumiz: Commemorative digital crypto coins to buy, collect and sell...

From the proposal:

"Unlike physical coins, Numiz are NFTs and are every bit as authentic and rare as regular coins, only they can never be duplicated or counterfeited thanks to cryptography.

Numiz commemorate all sorts of interesting events and historical milestones. This means your Numiz have a story.

The events they commemorate are digital renditions created by recognized artists from all walks of life, from art to design to music to film, so besides collectibility, they are truly original works of art"

This project, catalysed by synergy specialist and all round good guy, Eugene Morozov, is the first private subgovernance initiative to launch on the Free TON platform, requiring no funding or tokens from the community. He had this to add:

"Man, I am so happy for them (the artists) as I finally was able to get them together in this way after my book! I used all of their paintings to decorate interiors in many upscale properties I developed in Moscow, Sochi, NY, Dubai, Hanoi and Kiev. These beautiful 'life environments' I created with their work mean so much to me still, ten years of my life I did this and worked with these artists. To have them all collaborate and come together again on Free TON, it means the world to me. I can't wait to unveil more."