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First of all — prehistory.
I’ve been a digital artist since I was 12yo, drawing in a technique which looks like traditional painting from the first sight (You can take a look at some of my artworks here). Creating my paintings, I never called myself an illustrator — I was too serious with most of my artworks as I spent a lot of time thinking about concepts and details and put too much of myself. At one moment I stopped and realized that the form of art which I chose is exhausted for me.
When I found out about NFT-art, I thought that it’s a possibility for me to return as a digital artist, but this time using 3D-graphics and animation as means of expression. Also, as an art-historian, I would like to make research to find an answer to what NFT-art is, looking back on the history and having a dialogue with some pieces of art.
My first NFT-collection is my reflections about the phenomenon of crypto-art. The world goes crazy about NFT-art, but it’s the same digital art which became unique due to blockchain technology. Earlier when I did simple digital artworks, I felt that I couldn’t handle them like physical pieces of art — my digital paintings didn’t have the same significance as unique physical paintings. I couldn’t exhibit a digital artwork in galleries and sell it like a piece of art, because it's just a copy of a file which can be multiplied to infinity. But nowadays blockchain technology gives digital objects the same uniqueness that physical objects have, and this allows you to own digital art. That’s why NFT — it’s a way to materialize the digital world.
But what is the material world? According to the theory of quantum physics, the world is an illusion, something and nothing at the same time. Then the virtual world, the Metaverse, is as real as our physical world. In my first NFT-collection I decided to show this idea, drawing an analogy with famous material pieces of art. The images of the chosen art-objects disappear and by this transition into the void I demonstrate the binary nature of the world — the virtual and the real both. It’s also ironic — people spend big money buying NFTs, which are more ephemeral than physical artworks. Do they buy art or buy Nothing?
The first NFT in my collection became a well-known piece of ancient Greek art — Venus de Milo. This sculpture is one of iconic images in the history of art. When people hear the word “Art” — this statue becomes one of the most popular associations.
I decided to choose sculpture because it’s the most tangible art form. So, by that I can clearly draw a parallel between digital and physical art.
The next object in my collection is a 3D-copy of the famous “Fountain” by Marcel Duchamp. “Fountain” is the most popular artwork of readymade — a way of creating art when an artist chooses any ordinary object and represents that as an art. By this action the chosen object loses its regular function and gains a new meaning. The same we can see in the world of NFT-art. Artists often digitize objects from the real world without any modifications and upload them as NFT-arts. And becoming NFTs, these objects really change their nature. It's funny that the same thing already happened a hundred years ago.
For the last artwork in my collection I chose the image of Andy Warhol’s “Banana”, which was produced for The Velvet Underground album cover and has become one of his most recognizable works. Perhaps Andy Warhol is the most famous representative of pop art — an art movement which main focus is on consumer culture most often shown in ironic kitschy way. Andy Warhol used to depict objects of mass production and also copy his own works. A copy of a copy, the emptiness inside an artwork and the ironic play on the very existence of such pieces of art.
The same we can see in NFT-art. NFT-culture is also oriented on consumption — artists create collections choosing one image and then generating multiple copies with changes of details. For example, one of the most popular collections “Bored Ape” consists of numerous generated monkey pictures. I see in such NFT-collections the same ironic meaning as in pop-art. Post-ironic.
Speaking of bananas and monkeys, I'd like to mention the “Comedian” by Maurizio Cattelan — an art object which is a real banana duct-taped to the wall. It has gained broad popularity for its absurdity (hello, Duchamp) and was sold for $120,000.
© 2022 Julia Halmetova