The 10-second video sold for 6.6 million U.S. dollars. Is the “Mona Lisa” of the Internet age coming?

Some people say that this is an era where "the leeks cannot be cut, but the spring breeze blows and regenerates."

From blind boxes, Hanfu to sneakers, young people who are in love with it do not hesitate to spend a lot of money. A market of tens of billions was born, and listed companies with a market value of hundreds of billions of market value were also incubated.

▲ Picture from: Bilibili

But if I tell you, if someone spends millions of dollars just to buy a 10-second video or a JPEG image, normal people will probably say that this person is crazy, right? How thick is this leek?

In fact, there are still quite a few such people, and more and more people come and go. Behind these seemingly crazy behaviors, there is certainly an irrational fanaticism like Bitcoin investment, but it also makes people see a change in the Internet. Possibility of the current state of the world.

Why did a 10-second video sell for $6.6 million?

The recent "decline" of the stock market and Bitcoin has made many investors want to cry without tears, but in another trading market, it is quite the opposite.

Not long ago, an American art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile sold a collection for US$6.6 million . He bought the collection in October last year for only US$67,000, which is less than half a year worth. It has increased by nearly 100 times.

And this collection is not an antique painting, but a video created by the digital artist Beeple, which lasts only 10 seconds, which is probably the highest price per unit time in history.

This work is called "Crossroad" . In the video, a naked, Trump-like "giant" fell into the grass on the side of the road, painted with graffiti with various slogans, and pedestrians passing by completely ignored this. giant.

Let’s not talk about the special meaning of this video, but just like you and me, all users can see this video on the Internet. Why is there anyone willing to spend millions to buy a 10-second video?

It should be noted that the buyer of this video did not obtain an ordinary MP4 file, but an encrypted digital file containing the artist's signature, a digital asset called NFT (Non-Homogeneous Token).

NFT will be introduced in more detail in the next part of this article. Now you just need to know that NFT is unique, non-tamperable, and non-copyable.

In other words, although this video can be disseminated unlimited times on the Internet, it is actually a "fake", and the only "genuine product" in the buyer's hand.

It is this kind of "uniqueness" that can be authenticated that makes such digital art works have transactional value.

Even Christie's auction house, which has a history of more than 250 years, has joined the ranks. Not long ago, it auctioned an NFT artwork for the first time-a picture composed of 5,000 photos.

According to reports, within 1 hour of the auction, this work was bid from a starting price of US$100 to US$1 million. After 124 bids, it was finally sold at a price of US$3 million.

This work is called "Everydays -The First 5000 Days" and it is also by the digital artist Beeple.

Beeple is a god-level figure in the C4D circle and is very good at creating with 3D drawing software. His style of work is called "Post-apocalyptic art", which reflects thinking about the present by combining popular culture with future technological elements.

▲ Beeple works.

Beginning in 2006, Beeple launched a series of "Everydays", that is, creating an illustration every day and posting it on social networks. This series has never stopped.

In an interview with The Verge some time ago, Beeple said that for him, this has become as natural as brushing his teeth and eating every day, even on the days of his marriage and the birth of his children.

The pictures of Christie's auction this time are made up of works from the first 5000 days of the "Everydays" series. But this is not the first time Beeple has auctioned his works in this way.

In December last year, Beeple tried to put his work on the blockchain art platform Nifty Gateway for auction in the form of NFT. In the end, all 22 works were photographed. The most expensive work was sold for $770,000. The total price of the works reached 3.5 million US dollars.

As a digital artist, although Beeple is very well-known, it is actually difficult to directly sell his works created in the virtual world. It often needs to be co-branded with the brand and use the physical object as a carrier to become a commodity.

In the 2019 LV Spring/Summer collection, 13 pieces of clothing were printed with patterns of the work of Beeple's "Everydays", including KAWS, which was previously co-branded with Uniqlo, which is also similar. Although the works may be sold at sky-high prices, if only 0 and 1 form a number The form is worthless.

However, the emergence of NFT is changing all of this now. It allows digital art works that only exist on the Internet to have the same value as "Mona Lisa", and there is no more physical and virtual art.

What is the NFT that makes digital art popular?

Why does NFT have such a magical power to make a video and a picture sell at a sky-high price?

"NFT" can be translated as a non-homogeneous token, which is a digital asset in the blockchain field. You may think of Bitcoin, but the two are fundamentally different.

Bitcoin is the same as the renminbi that we usually use. Any two hundred-dollar bills have exactly the same value, and one hundred-dollar bill can be exchanged for multiple smaller banknotes.

And "NFT" is the only and irreplaceable, which is "non-homogeneity." Each digital asset represented by an NFT has a unique value and cannot be directly exchanged for other NFTs, nor can it be sold separately.

Griffin Cock Foster, the founder of Nifty Gateway, once described the characteristics of NFT :

Imagine that when you buy a pair of expensive AJ sneakers, even if Nike goes bankrupt, your sneakers will not disappear from your shoe cabinet; then why do in-game assets, such as character skins, do after the game company’s bankruptcy? Can't have it anymore?

The last time NFT came out of the circle was in 2018. A blockchain cat raising game called "CryptoKitties" became popular on the Internet. Every virtual cat collected and fed by the player is carried in the form of NFT. NFT allows each cat to be virtual The world has a unique "genome".

The recent popularity of NFT again began with a platform called NBA Top Shot. NBA star cards and selected videos were made into NFT form for users to purchase and trade.

In the five months since NBA Top Shot was launched, it has attracted more than 100,000 buyers and sales of nearly $250 million. The most expensive deal at present is a dunk video of LeBron James, which was bought by a user for $208,000.

The exposure of NFT on the Internet has been unusually frequent in recent weeks. In addition to the works of Beeple, Elon Musk’s girlfriend Grimes also sold a series of digital artworks including original MVs online in the form of NFT, and sold 600 in 20 minutes. Ten thousand U.S. dollars.

In addition, the rainbow cat Nyan Cat emoticon that has been popular on the Internet for many years, its original creator Chris Torres will auction the remastered version through the encrypted art platform Foundation, and finally sell it for 300 ether, which is equivalent to about US$590,000.

Through NFT, these creators not only freed the value of their works from the limitations of physical media, but also after the first sale, each time the work changes hands, the creators can also get a certain percentage of commissions, which is also more and more An important reason for multiple creators to embrace NFT.

According to Christie’s post-war and contemporary art expert Noah Davis , NFT is democratizing art collection in a very radical way.

NFT can add value to digital art, which opens a door to unlimited possibilities for a medium that is not bound by physical limitations.

Andy Warhol in the Internet Age

The above-mentioned works of art that are authenticated on the blockchain and traded in cryptocurrency are all called Crypto Art, which has gradually become a new creative medium in recent years.

The rise of "encrypted art" can not only help digital art creators to better reflect their value, but more importantly, allow many creators to complete creativity that cannot be achieved in traditional physical media. Digital art is no longer just the onlineization of works in the physical world. .

Among them, AsyncArt is an experimental art movement that best reflects this characteristic. It uses blockchain technology such as NFT to discuss "how art is programmed".

AsyncArt's digital art works are not completed by one person, but are divided into Master (main canvas) and Layer (layer). Each layer can be modified by different creators and become an independent NFT.

For example, AsyncArt's first work First Suppe (The First Suppe), which imitates the famous painting "The Last Supper", is composed of 22 layers. The characters, background, decoration and other elements correspond to different layers.

Someone has calculated that First Suppe has at least 31.3 billion different layer combinations possible. If the layer is changed every second, it will take nearly 1,000 years to read all the forms of this work.

This reminds me of an event launched by Reddit on April Fools' Day a few years ago. On a huge blank canvas, users can choose a color and click a dot on it every once in a while. The event has a time limit of 72 hours.

What is unexpected is that netizens of different races and skin colors all over the world have spontaneously organized and completed a series of amazing works, which have become miraculous performance art on the Internet. As Huo Ju said :

Now that the world is moving towards an era of isolationism, this project that countless people have jointly created, contributed, perfected, and creatively, from the beginning is full of mutual assistance and alliances of people from different backgrounds, it has moved me indescribably.

The same is true for the aforementioned programmable encryption art, which is the embodiment of the decentralization of the Internet in digital art. Cao Yin, managing director of the Digital Renaissance Foundation, believes that programmable encryption art is an affirmative movement. It makes the concept of "everyone is an artist" by the famous German contemporary artist Boyce is no longer just a slogan.

SuperRare curator An, who has held many crypto art exhibitions , pointed out in an article that if Andy Warhol lived to this day, he would definitely use digital currency to create pop art.

Andy Warhol in the Internet age will definitely come from the world of encrypted art.

NFT has given new value to digital art, but the possibilities it brings to the Internet do not stop there.

NFT's future possibilities

At present, NFT is gradually becoming known because of its application in the field of digital art, but it is still relatively small, but it may be applied to more fields in the future.

NFT can tokenize all assets in the real world and virtual world and prove their ownership. At a time when more and more consumption is going digital, we often no longer own the ownership of digital assets, but only use the right for a period of time.

With the trend of closer integration between offline and online, digital assets will also become an increasingly important asset for everyone. But the defect that digital content can be easily copied is a problem, as Nifty Gateway founder Tyler Winklevoss said:

Before you use the blockchain, 1 and 0 are not scarce.

For example, NFT is expected to provide a new possibility for digital content that has been plagued by piracy issues such as online music, film and television.

Last year, a blockchain-based music NFT platform ROCKI was launched on the market, which not only solves the digital copyright issues of creators, but also brings new sources of income and fan interaction methods, which has attracted many musicians to join.

Giovanni Colavizza, Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at the University of Amsterdam, said: “Tokenization can enable us to change the way we create and exchange value for artworks in the past.”

Of course, as a new thing, NFT itself is not perfect. For example, blockchain-based transactions are often not restricted by the existing financial regulatory system, and there are certain risks.

In addition, although NFT has the characteristics of immutability and uniqueness, it will theoretically exist in the virtual world forever. However, the longest storage medium available now has a life span of only about 60 years, and the preservation of digital assets is still inseparable from physical media.

Just like artificial intelligence and face recognition, new technologies always go hand in hand with various problems. But this does not prevent us from looking forward to the future of NFT, a new digital world is being born.

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