NFTs and the Non-fungible Experience

Moderated by Johannes DeYoung and Melentie Pandilovski
Event Date/Time:
Friday, September 30, 2022 /4PM EDT

** Session Video**

Session Description 

Non-fungible tokens and blockchain technologies are radically reshaping digital arts commerce. Between 2020 and 2021, the global trading volume of NFTs increased ten-fold, with a reported global market of 22 billion USD in 2021. While the cryptocurrency crashes of 2022 signal a crisis of faith for some, others express that blockchain technologies will have lasting impacts for artists. Digital technologies continue to disrupt and collapse the boundaries between the arts, mass media communications, and popular consumerism.  In his notes on the general economy, French philosopher Georges Bataille once referred to this kind of excess as the accursed share – an excess of energy that finds expression through spectacle. For some this shift represents opportunity, for others a crisis in bourgeois consumerism, and for many more a puzzling phenomenon.  Many artists find novel positions relative to this current episode. Talks in this session represent unique views and critically informed perspectives of NFTs, the blockchain, and the current state of digital arts provenance, exchange, and commerce.  Presentations and discussions will expose the practicalities, possibilities, and consequences of blockchain technology and the NFT.

Presenters (in alphabetical order):
Brainard Carey
When NFT Art Crashes like the Stock Market, What Happens Next?

In 2022 we saw the Great Crypto-Crash where, for example, $100 in bitcoin was worth $25 over night. This talk will reflect on how global markets recover and how artists recover from seismic shifts in the NFT landscape. We will also discuss how a volatile market like this is navigated without panicking.

Tony Coombs
East Meets West, Bridging the Gap

The rise of NFTs has created greater awareness for Blockchain, seen incredible highs and lows of crypto currencies, and spurred a new generation of artists.  But what is happening in other lesser known locations for NFTs such as China?  In this lightning presentation Tony Coombs from Harvest Pictures Group will give a brief overview of China as a marketplace and ask the questions – will the East ever meet the West?  What is allowed in China for digital art and NFTs?  Is their innovation in the marketplace?  What are the limitations on commercializing and reselling? A quick overview of the key differences and a working example related to influencers and how they are impacting the next wave of artists across many forms will give the viewer an informed and interesting take on developments and happenings outside of the normal circles we think of when discussing NFTs.

Robert David Duncan
An Artist’s Journey into NFTs

By demystifying and experimenting with NFTs, artists can gain a fun and realistic new way to reach audiences and build community. An account of my journey from complete novice to eventually selling art NFTs on the Tezos blockchain, including why I was drawn to NFTs in the first place and some of the lessons I learned along the way. Participants will gain some tips on setting realistic expectations for themselves and suggested approaches toward making their first sales.

Nandhini Giri
Non-fungible Experiences: Speculating the Future(s) of Entertainment Technologies

This talk outlines potential futures of non-fungible experiences and human interactions with emerging entertainment technologies. The insights are based on an ongoing research study to understand human perceptions of the future of metaverse experiences, emerging technologies, and transactional services. Undergraduate students with a background in computer graphics technology majors traveled to the year 2050 and designed futuristic narratives. These narratives accounted for their immersive experiences in a future-oriented metaverse that connects their current lives to a time in the future. The fictional narratives were analyzed to build insights on what the future of non-fungible experiences could be and how it can shape our lives in a distant time. The key take-away is a peek into the possible futures of non-fungible transactions for entertainment purposes, and a projection of our collective knowledge of emerging technologies into the evolving metaverse design.

Priscilla Koukoui
Multisensory NFTs

As a cross-modalist, multi-sensory designer and scent composer, Priscilla Koukoui creates stories to smell, and multi-sensory NFTs. NFTs with scent! Exploring advanced technologies to create transformative stories, Priscilla plays with realities virtual & augmented, and all senses. One of her latest phygital creations, Morphism, created in collaboration with performer Katya Petetskaya explores Time & Humanity playing with artificial intelligence, projection mapping in multi-sensory environments, NFTs and POAPs. Morphism, both an installation and a performance, has been presented in 4 different contemporary galleries in Australia. NFTs of the performance are available online.

Melody Owen and Michelle Brown
The CleanNFT Community

Clean NFTs is a phrase that describes NFTs that use cryptocurrencies with Proof of Stake, a more energy efficient consensus mechanism. In early 2021 a group of artists and members of the NFT community joined together to discuss the issues with Etheruem, which is considered environmentally impactful due to the large amount of energy output generated by the block mining process as its security mechanism. 

The CleanNFT Discord started by Michelle Brown aka thebadlament with support from Melody Owen aka pearl hyacinth, quickly grew to include thousands of people from all over the world. Along with providing resources and a space to discuss, Michelle and Melody curated several virtual exhibitions focused on the cleanNFT artists. This 5 minute talk will focus on the nature of the early community, the accessibility and environmental impact of cleanNFTs, the innovative work produced on the blockchain and the historic importance of the cleanNFT movement.

Federico Solmi
The SuperRare Worlds of Federico Solmi

Federico Solmi uses his art as a vehicle to stimulate a visceral conversation with his audience, highlighting the contradictions and fallibility that characterize our time. Through his work, Solmi examines unconscious human impulses and desires in order to critique Western society’s obsession with individual success and display contemporary relationships between nationalism, colonialism, religion, consumerism. By re-configuring historical narratives across eras, he creates social and political commentary works which disrupt the mythologies that define American society. Scanning his paintings into a game engine, Solmi’s videos confront the audience with his own absurd rewriting of past and present, merging dark humor and sense of the grotesque with new technologies. Since 2019, he has successfully adapted his practice to leverage NFT platforms and blockchain technologies.

Yuqian Sun
When an AI Chatbot Enters the NFT World

I developed the AI chatbot Wander, an android that explores the future earth, in April 2021. She is capable of creating interactive fictions based on real-world sites for future travelogs. I created and sold a lot of NFTs based on her persona and stories as NFTs began to flourish, and I gradually grew her into an academic art project that’s been recently accepted by the Siggraph Asia Art Gallery and ACM Multimedia Interactive Artworks. In this session, I’ll discuss how my attitude regarding NFT changed over time, from skepticism to worry to curiosity and enjoyment, and how NFTs have helped me in both Web3 and academic research.

C.J. Yeh
To Shill or Not to Shill, Is That The Right Question? 

In many ways, 2021 was the Year of NFT. This new form of digital “property” took the world by storm with a dramatic rise in popularity. According to DappRadar, the trade volume of NFTs went from $95 million in 2020 to $24.9 billion in 2021. Just as quickly, the momentum came to a grinding halt following the cryptocurrency crash triggered by rising interest rates worldwide that prompted investors to flee from risky assets. 

While there is plenty to discuss/criticize in the world of NFTs, creators worldwide continue pushing forward important conversations using blockchain technologies. Through this presentation, I will share my experience buying, selling, and creating NFT on various platforms. More importantly, I like to compare my experience as an artist represented by galleries IRL (in real life) and as a lone wolf in the decentralized world of NFT.

Johannes DeYoung

Johannes DeYoung is a multidisciplinary artist who works at the intersection of computational and material processes. His moving-image works have been exhibited internationally in galleries and museums in countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Taiwan, and the USA, as well as being featured in The New York Times, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, and Dossier Journal. He is Assistant Professor of Electronic and Time-Based Media at Carnegie Mellon University. He previously taught at Yale University School of Art (2008–2018), where he was appointed Senior Critic and Director of the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media, and at the Yale School of Drama, where he was appointed Lecturer in Design.

Melentie Pandilovski

Dr. Melentie Pandilovski is an art theorist, author, curator, and historian. He recently served as Executive Director of Experimenta, Australia’s leading organization dedicated to commissioning, exhibiting and touring contemporary art driven by technology. With over twenty-five years of experience working in the arts in Australia and internationally, he previously served as Director of the Riddoch Art Gallery and Manager of Arts and Cultural Development at the City of Mount Gambier; Director of Video Pool Media Arts Centre in Winnipeg, Canada (2011-16); Director of the Visual Cultural Research Centre, Euro-Balkan Institute in Skopje, Macedonia (2009-11); Director of the Experimental Art Foundation in Adelaide, Australia (2003-2009), and the Contemporary Arts Centre in Skopje, Macedonia (1998-2003). He has organized and curated more than 200 projects including exhibitions, symposia, conferences and workshops, in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the U.S.