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Friday, November 25, 2022

Explore NFT (Non-fungible Token), Mid journey AI, and Virtual Reality

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NFT, Mid journey AI, Virtual Reality…has art become just another internet buzzword?

Is Monet turning in his grave? Would Van Gogh chop his other ear off? Will all of the world’s great artists just become pawns in how digital art and trends are ruining the playing field? Only time will tell. However, we can speculate and study history to see if there are some answers that give us an inkling as to what the future of art looks like.

Has art always been influenced by technology?

Yup, this phenomenon is nothing new. Well before NFTs and metaverses came into the scene, art was always influenced by what new technology was available at the time. Using technology, natural pigments turned into artificial paints and dyes, boosting art sales and accessibility. Similarly, advances in printing and reproduction made art available to the masses. Moreover, digital technology really steered art creation into a whole new century, with the advancements in software like Photoshop, artists were no longer confined to the laws of the physical world. It’s true, that art and technology have always had a relationship; but has that relationship always been positive? That part is controversial and debatable.

Wiped-out or ‘endangered’ art practices

Although the advent of technology has progressed how we create art and allowed us to unleash our imagination to create stuff that we never thought possible, it has also endangered or wiped out many traditional art practices that don’t have a place in the art scene of today. As a Pakistani, our ancient heritage of batik and rally will surely not survive the global technological trend of becoming an NFT in the metaverse, for example. Does that simply mean we let them become extinct and move on to the Next Big Art Thing?

Importance of traditional and heritage arts and crafts

If the caveman had found ways of upgrading or erasing his cave drawings we would never have found or studied them, hieroglyphs would not have existed and we would have no clue how our ancestors lived. No access to their rituals, thoughts, daily lives, and other details that we have some sort of a window to, because of their doodles on the wall. Similarly, as more and more art types stop being recreated and taught, what will we leave behind as our art legacy? Are NFTs the only kind of art legacy we want to be known for?

What is Modern Art?

AI-generated art

Currently, we live in a world where many different art types are slowly surfacing. For instance, AI’s inclusion in art has opened a whole new Pandora’s Box relating to copyrights, infringements, and other legal hassles that no one knows how to sort out. Mid journey ai, DALL-E 2, WOMBO Dream, and much other software is now coming out every day, in which by just inputting some random words, users get AI-generated artwork in seconds. In this fast-food-Esque, art-on-demand vending machine, the real artists are the ones whose jobs are in danger.

Recently, a person won an art contest at a state fair by using an AI-generated art feature as his entry. Is that ethical? Legal? Should such pieces be disqualified? I mean, art by its very definition is ‘the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.’

Virtual Reality, NFTs & the Metaverse

So many new buzzwords. Sheesh. Let’s start with vague ideas of what these all mean. No, seriously, we still don’t have a proper definition of the word ‘metaverse’. Virtual Reality is an easy one, it includes a mechanical simulation of a three-dimensional picture or environment that may be interacted with in a supposedly real or physical way by a person wearing specific electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves with sensors.

NFTs are non-fungible tokens which means they are a virtual asset that symbolizes physical stuff such as art, music, in-game items, and movies. They are purchased and traded online, usually using cryptocurrency, and are typically encoded using the same underlying software as many cryptos.

Despite the fact that they have been present since 2014, NFTs are gaining popularity as a popular means to purchase and sell digital artwork. The market for NFTs alone was approximately $41 billion in 2021, which is approaching the whole value of the worldwide fine art industry. Scary.

Meta as a concept and idea is difficult to explain, that’s because it has so many nuances and meanings attached to it. Basically, the phrase ‘metaverse’ refers to a wide (and frequently hypothetical) shift in how humans engage with technology rather than a specific form of technology. In general, the technologies that firms allude to when they talk about “the metaverse” might include virtual reality (defined by persistent virtual environments that exist even when you’re not playing) and augmented reality (which blends features of the digital and physical worlds). It does not, however, necessitate that those areas be accessed solely through VR or AR. Virtual worlds, such as Fortnite elements accessible via PCs, gaming consoles, and even phones, have begun to refer to themselves as “the metaverse.” So, it’s all a bit up in the air, isn’t it? Literally.

NFTs exist in the metaverse and are purchased by cryptocurrencies. Damn, that sentence would make no sense to a boomer. But, I digress. Digital art and extended reality technologies seem like they are going to be the Next Big Thing, not only in art but in everything. Eventually, trying to become a new way of life (if you want to read a cool book series that shows how all this would play out, check out the Warcross series by Marie Lu) but are all these concepts stable? Are they reliable? Are they feasible? We just don’t know yet, because of how erratic their rise to power has been. Sometimes they are in boom and everyone you know and their uncle is buying them but at other times, people lose millions in a second.

However, the tide turns, and one thing’s for sure: technology is affecting art in ways beyond our imagination, it has done so previously in the past as well, but that hasn’t always been for the benefit of our cultural, traditional, and heritage crafts and arts. What will web3 bring to the table? We just don’t know yet.

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