Some thoughts after my first visit to an NFT exhibition
Creativity, ownership and sustainability, some things to discuss with the arrival of NFTs to art.
Last month I visited an exhibition in the Centre Culturel Coreen where it brings the Lantern Lighting Festival through an immersive, digital and interactive art experience.
Colours, music and delightful innovative technologies are just a few words to describe the immersive experience created by the Centre Culturel Coreen (Korean Cultural Centre) on its new exhibition inspired on the traditional Buddhist Lantern Lighting Festival. The exhibition starts with an immersive video mapping in the middle of a surrounding screen. Beyond the lights and music that will bring you to live the traditional festival, some of the animations can be play with creating new interactive experiences. But it does not stop there. After the video, in a small room next to it there is a NFT exhibition. Korea is well known from its technological advancement, so evidently the ingenious idea of an NFT was only natural for this. The NFT exhibition shows some digital art also related to the lantern lighting festival bringing the tradition into a contemporary ingenious happening. And, of course, in the second level a curated exhibition shows a bit more of the story behind the festival displaying different kind and sizes of these traditional lanterns.
For me it was an interesting and groundbreaking experience to go to my very first NFT exhibition. Personally I am thrilled by digitalisation and all the web3 happenings, so it was natural to get excited for me. However, there are a lot of thoughts around the topic that still need to be discussed.
After sharing my experience with a fellow artist friend, she strongly stand that NFTs are not art, specially if built through AI. Her position is that since there is no actual human hands building it it is not art, and that machines can not be creative let alone artists. But, is it? This will go back to decades if not centuries of discussion with Turing's Imitation Game and beyond. I definitively do not have the last word here, however why a technique and new technology should limit creativity and our understanding of it?
Who owns what? NFTs give to whom that owns it the rights of the digital asset, however this does not mean the image or video or whatever can not freely go online or others to use it, print it, etc. It is just a matter of owning it. A ethereal right of ownership.
Interestingly enough for me, what is something to highlight from this is that since it uses blockchain we can clearly follow the history of its ownership. Also, it is possible for first time that the original owner, creator or artist (however we want to name them) can receive a fee of each transaction. So, this is also a transformation in art markets and the way art is sold through time.
In a few words, NFTs demand a redefinition of laws and policies around copyright and art ownership.
Finally (for now), sustainability...
After the exhibition, I ran to upload some of my photos as NFTs. I was excited and I do believe we should work on these topics. Come on! Even Heidi Klum just launched her NFTs. And as artist I believe that we should bring aesthetics to this world and not make NFTs just about basic gifs and memes. However there is a huge impact behind every transaction on the environment that we should talk about. Every transaction has an enormous carbon print impact that can be compared with the impact of traveling. For the moment there are no exact scientific studies for these, however the first broad data shows that not going into NFTs is just like reducing meat from our diet or stop flying around the globe for sustainable purposes. You can read more about this on Earth.org.
So, we should find new ways of being digital but sustainable.
This is a blog post, not a thesis, so I will stop here. It is just some few thoughts around the topic. Let's talk.
More about the exhibition at Fondation Culturel Coreen.
Yeondeunghoe, the actual name of the lantern lighting festival, is a traditional festivity celebrated throughout the Republic of Korea to celebrate Buddha’s birthday. Beyond its religious origins, nowadays is a spring festival that fills the city of lotus and other kind of handmade lanterns lighting the country in a spectacular way. This summer, the Centre Culturel Coreen in Paris brings this festival in a digital interactive event.
Beyond the fun and artistic event, this is without a question a groundbreaking exhibition to learn and live the festival recently declared by the UNESCO as one of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It is an interesting mix of tradition and innovation, which is a small sample of what is happening in the art world and of alternative ways of creating exhibitions.
So, we know, the question is ‘where I can see all this?’ Well, you can visit it from June 30 to September 9, 2022 at the Centre Culturel Coreen (20 rue la Boétie 75008 Paris, France). The entrance is free for all, although online reservation is recommended.