A new Damien Hirst NFT art experiment has been unveiled, which asks one of the biggest questions of our time. Simply put, what’s worth more — crypto or physical art? The challenge begins next Wednesday, 21st July, at 3PM BST.
The renowned British creative is minting a 10,000 strong series of non-fungible tokens, which will sell for $2,000 per piece. So far so unimaginative, the concept becomes clear when you learn these assets are each linked to one of his famous ‘spot paintings’, stored in a secure vault. To begin with, buyers will receive the NFT version of their purchase, and must then decide to keep the digital or physical version.
In order to participate, anyone interested needs to apply online. Once successful, they will have one year from the day they receive their token, or until 27th July 2022, to make their choice. Effectively, this makes people consider the value of crypto art, and also the point at which any art becomes currency. It’s the latest high-concept and divisive project from a guy who has previously put a shark and a sheep in formaldehyde and stuck them in a gallery.
Perceived or Real Value?
Of course, the Damien Hirst NFT art experiment has far bigger connotations than the question of value in art. Over the past seven months, we have seen an exponential growth in the NFT space, and the metaverse itself. People are buying land on virtual planets, collecting avatars in wallets that do not exist in the physical world, and buying memorabilia that can only be seen digitally.
How much, if anything, should any of this cost, and — crucially — will it maintain value beyond the initial boom period? For the most part, NFT art is either fully digital or comes with physical assets that exist alongside the virtual. This is the first major example of the two sides facing off in a tangible way; a debate many people in the art world and beyond have been having in recent months. Remarkably, though, the whole idea is one that Hirst has been working on for more than three years. How’s that for future thinking?
A Collaborative Work
In order to pull off this conceptual feat of ingenuity, Hirst has teamed up with art services firm Heni Publishing, New York-based ConsenSys, and David Heyman of Heyday Films, the ‘Harry Potter’ movie producer. These three collaborators are launching Palm, a blockchain that claims to be 99% more energy-efficient than Ethereum. ‘The Currency’ is the first project to hit the platform.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Joe Hage, CEO of HENI, in an interview. He then continued: “It’s such a beautiful project in its simplicity, but it’s been a challenge to do it the way we wanted, technologically… It’s a kind of battle between the people who want the physical art world and people who want some NFT or digital art… People can decide what they want, like an art-based social experiment.”
Suffice to say, the jury is out on where the final judgement will fall — digital or physical. Nevertheless, this is a conversation that’s likely to continue well after the results are in, and it didn’t start here either. SuperRare’s new exhibition, ‘Unrealism‘, is currently asking a similar question about the role of NFTs in the art world. Meanwhile, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar recently became the first NFT artist in residence, producing crypto pieces for display in the real world, at a time when NFT gallery spaces are fast becoming commonplace real-world destinations.