In February, a 10-second video clip by the digital artist Beeple sold for $6.6 million USD at an auction. And then, an animated image of a flying cat sold for $600,000. There are many more of these instances, all of which happened over the last few months. What do these all have in common? They’re all examples of NFTs, otherwise known as non-fungible tokens.
Recently, I’ve been seeing the term “NFT” everywhere. From Instagram, to other media outlets, it seems that everyone is talking about them. I wasn’t really interested at first, but then I realized that this term is flooding the internet, so I wanted to learn more about it.
So, let’s get to the heart of the action, what’s really an NFT?
The easiest way to explain this is to think of NFT’s as digital certificates of authenticity—like the ones people receive when they purchase art from auction houses. An NFT, or a “non-fungible token,” is an irreplaceable and unique identifier created by an algorithm. It is essentially a unique barcode created for a digital piece of art. Yes, you read that right. The art market is slowly but surely turning digital, and with it, the certificates of authentication had to become digital as well.
Now you may be asking, how do they work?
When an artist puts up their work for sale, they have to create a “mint,” which is a NFT that stands as the signal or claim on the ownership for the piece. They are registered on “open blockchain ledgers,” which makes it possible to track digital ownership. Blockchain technology provides security and assurance that makes selling fake tokens impossible. Henceforth revolutionizing the entire art market (because that kind of security cannot be guaranteed for physical works that can very easily be reproduced and faked).
Artists are veering more and more towards NFTs because of the nature of digital artwork which is so easily reproducible. By creating NFTs, they can ensure that the pieces they sell are unique, and that the owner could claim sole ownership in a safe blockchain technology setting.
This is it folks, we are officially witnessing the change in the art market in real life, and honestly we’re not even one least bit mad about it.
Photo via Chris Torres