Today, the majority of NFTs created happen out of the desire to leverage core mechanics of a new medium. Creators banking on the notion that: if what I make is inherently unique in a new market, then it has value. Consequently, when browsing through the storefronts of most well-known marketplaces such as: OpenSea, Axie Marketplace, Larva Labs, NBA Top Shot, Rarible, SuperRare, and Foundation, we are confronted to thousands of daily created artifacts.
While those aforementioned marketplaces built an identity and philosophy around the genre of NFTs they carry. It remains a challenge to objectively ascribe value to those non-fungible tokens. From fictitious real-estate, to domain names, and digital art to basketball clips and highlights; the NFT scene is a maelstrom of monetizable narratives. Nonetheless, Minimalist and abstract generatively created patterns, neo-classical digital representations of mythical scenes, and a LeBron James dunk all possess distinctive formal qualities and resonate with cultures differently, which invites us to consider an other perspective.
What then is the value in creating NFTs?
With the advent of cryptocurrencies, NFTs certainly allowed for us to evolve the way we sell and collect something that has already been made, but have they really lead us to challenge the way we create?
As far back as our recorded human history permits us to see, women and men - through making - have been shaping material and immaterial realities. The cosmos within which our archaic ancestors inhabited was a realm full meaning and values, (which they nurtured). Ultimately, stories became carrier of sacred information holding people morally and emotionally accountable for their actions. Enacting and re-enacting those stories both in the material and immaterial world allowed for the codification of rules helping people maintain a sense of belonging to their own culture and to the universe.
Could NFTs become more than just a financial opportunity, and act as catalyst for connection to shared intemporal creative legacies?
The digicene we currently inhabit has left us drowning in information, yet longing for wisdom. While social media platforms, and more recently NFT marketplaces are saturating the digital landscape with an endless outpour of content - it remains a challenge, for the artist and collector to understand how all these micro-stories, fit within a broader narrative arc.
Albeit our capacity to think, formulate and communicate ideas and concepts freely being vital for the well-being of our societies - it should not be taken lightly. This opportunity to organize our experiences in the world by creating, and speaking at will - updating our pre-conceived notions is a miracle. Consequently, as some of us leverage new mechanics of the paradigm-shifting medium which is cryptocurrency - minting NFTs and selling them for profit - we should ask ourselves: as I create, what legacy am I furthering? What thought, or idea, or concept am I updating? More importantly what am I/we to learn from this process?
In his book History of Religious Ideas, the historian of religion Mircea Eliade argues that: “it is inconceivable that tools were not charged with a certain sacrality... Furthermore, the first technological discoveries, the transformation of stone into instruments of attack and defense, the mastery over fire - not only insured the survival and development of the human species; they also produced a universe of mythico-religious values inspiring and feeding the creative imagination”. Could we argue, then, that much like the acheulean axe was to Homo Ergaster, and fire to Homo Erectus, crypto and NFTs could be perceived as tools possessing the power to shape and reshape our material and immaterial realities? I certainly believe so, however (and whithout being to corny here) with great power comes great responsability.
Creativity - rather the act of being creative is often reduced to ‘thinking outside the box’. Emphasizing the ‘thinking’, not necessarily the ‘making’, even less so the ‘implementing’. See, one can generate countless original thoughts in the abstract realm of his psyche. Ideas seeming to challenge existing notions and framework, but that is all they are at this point, ideas. Albeit thinking remaining a viable starting point for any creative endeavour, one should understand that his ‘creation’ will ultimately deploy to a certain context. While the object’s ultimate form may vary, the concept remains the same, people will come into contact with what you make. As a result impacting directly or indirectly what they think, feel, and how they act. Leaving us with the duty to understand at best the context we create in, and for.
The impact social media has on individual’s mental health is well documented. Anxiety, loneliness, depression, sleep problems, FOMO (fear of missing out) are all observed and palpable symptoms developed from time spent on social platforms. While the conclusive states one might arrive at are absolutley terrifying and dramatic, such as self-harm, or even suicide, lets bring our attention to the anatomy of the products whith which we interface on a daily basis. Helping us understand how the nature, and format of the content we absorb, directly impacts us. Moreover, how NFTs and NFT marketplaces have the potential to bring about positive alternatives.