The LA Art Show kicked off at the Convention Center Thursday night, and there’s something different on display this year. Alongside many traditional galleries featuring everything from photography to sculpture is Vellum LA, which will be the city’s first brick-and-mortar gallery to handle NFT (non-fungible token) art when it opens on Melrose Avenue this fall.
This is the first NFT art exhibition in exhibition history; in fact, this is the first live NFT show at any exhibition. In partnership with NFT marketplace SuperRare and LA-based media and design firm StandardVision, Vellum showcases a range of digital works by female and non-binary artists on digital “canvas” developed specifically to showcase NFT art. Want to take part that you saw in the show? You’d better pack the cryptocurrency ETH.
If things are still a little confusing and you don’t know your Bitcoins from your blockchain yet, Vellum LA curator Sinziana Velicescu guides us through the next big thing in the art world.
Speak like I’m stupid: What is NFT art and how is it different from other types of art? And how is it the same?
NFT is a digital token that can be used to represent ownership of unique items, certified by the blockchain. NFTs are essentially collectible digital assets, which have value as a form of cryptocurrency and as an art or cultural form.
In the context of art, NFT provides proof of ownership of a unique work of art by the artist as the original owner of the work. One of the advantages of selling NFTs, compared to more “traditional” art market deals, is the automatic resale royalties that flow back to the artist. Any art can basically be made into an NFT as long as it is authenticated by the blockchain.
So far there’s been a lot of talk about NFT artwork being traded (often for a hefty price), but there’s been little exhibition coverage for people who aren’t necessarily investors but just love looking at art. How can a gallery appeal to the average art appreciator?
The important thing to understand here is that the culture around NFT mainly revolves around the idea that wok can live only online in the metaverse. Many believe that a physical IRL representation is unnecessary in the NFT space. We think these realities can coexist as the lines between digital and real are becoming more and more blurred every day.
When it comes to keeping art appreciators interested, there’s an educational opportunity here to help art collectors and galleries understand how NFTs work and how they can benefit artists and collectors—that’s what we did with Vellum LA’s presence at the LA art show.
“Imagine having art in your home that can change over hours, days, months, or even years.”
How is NFT art exhibited? Do you have to do some innovation?
There are currently no standards on how NFT art should be exhibited in the physical world. We are focused on digital art and we have partnered with StandardVision who have designed a museum grade LED Canvas called Luma Canvas which is significantly more lifelike than your average TV screen and which can support a wide range of aspect ratios beyond the traditional HD format. There are also software components that can display programmable art. This is something we are very interested in because it really makes the work viewable in physical space. Imagine having art in your home that can change over hours, days, months, or even years.
Okay, let’s say I’m a person interested in investing in NFT art—what am I looking for? How do I determine the value?
I will seek out artists whose work has something to say, whose work is innovative in space, and whose work serves as a reflection of our current state of existence. We believe that now that the initial hype has died down a bit and prices have more or less evened out, the artists who continue to produce interesting work in space will continue to shine.
How did your career lead you to NFT curation?
My background is in site-specific art curation on large-scale media facade installations in public/private spaces; Over the past ten years, I’ve championed digital artists across a wide range of movements, from generative and code-based arts to interactive, AI, crypto art, and more. I’ve always recognized these artists as doing important and interesting work, and I’m glad that many of them are finally getting the recognition they deserve.
How was LA’s first NFT gallery setup? What are the challenges? What are the benefits?
This is an interesting journey. The biggest challenges revolve around the limitations that exist in the online market for printing works that fall outside the spectrum of traditional video files or photo jpgs as well as the artwork size limitations imposed by online NFT spaces.
Displaying artwork on a digital display requires a lot of insight into what compression and resolution is best suited for which screen size, as well as considerations in animation speed, viewing distance, etc. This is a learning experience for some artists who are also used to seeing their work on a computer screen. Once the work is displayed on a large, high-resolution canvas, every detail of the work will be scrutinized. We think there is importance in creating jobs that will stand the test of time in the context of rapidly evolving technology.
We wanted Vellum LA to provide a truly unique viewing experience, with the possibility of inviting collaborations, exhibitions and drops across a variety of media (music, film, dance, art, and more)—finding creative ways to bring all of these worlds together below. one roof while pushing the boundaries of art as we know it.
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