This art is token

Move over modern art. Non-fungible token or NFT is the art of the moment and Bengaluru-based artist Harshit Agrawal just became the first Indian NFT artist

Twenty-nine-year-old Bengaluru artist Harshit Agrawal is the first Indian artist to have joined the NFT art bandwagon. Eight of his AI-generated artworks were minted as NFTs over the last eight months and have been sold to collectors spread across the world.

But what exactly is NFT? Non-fungible token, or NFT, is a one-of-a-kind digital asset that has been verified by blockchain. In nerd-speak, NFTs are stamped with a unique bit of code that marks their authenticity.

When you buy NFT art, you don’t get a framed work in hand. Instead, you get a token that shows that you are the owner of the art. “In a nutshell, NFT art is created by someone, owned by someone and can be used by anyone,” Agrawal explained over the phone.

NFT art caught our attention in March this year when auction house Christie’s sold Everydays, a NFT art by digital artist Beeple aka Mike Winkelmann, in an online auction for nearly 70 million dollars. Other big-ticket sales followed, from Nyan Cat to Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, all selling in millions of dollars.

While the interest in NFT art spiked just a few months back, Agrawal had been following it for almost a year. His position in the Indian art world is unique because the art he creates is at the intersection of technology and creativity. “I studied design in IIT Guwahati and did a Masters degree from MIT Medialab,” he said. His artworks are AI-based and fall in the ‘generative art’ genre. Three years back, the first-ever AI-generated Indian art show was held in a New Delhi art gallery called Nature Morte. Agrawal was the only Indian artist featured. “My art practice is such that I am constantly looking out for new technology,” he said. NFT art was being discussed among the artist community and Agrawal joined in.

For his works, Agrawal used the Ethereum blockchain currency and minted the art on SuperRare platform. The series, ‘Machine Situatedness’, has eight AI-generated works on Buddhist Thangka paintings. Commenting on their success, Agrawal believes that his works are unique and are priced right. “My last work sold for 4000 USD within hours of minting it,” he said. Of the works sold, a few have been resold, the royalties on the sales automatically coming to him. “NFT art is a good economic structure to support digital art. It is one of the main reasons I started doing it.” Last year’s lockdown made it possible for him to pursue it in-depth. “As most of the physical shows were getting cancelled, NFT art became a reality.”

If you own an NFT art, it means only you can resell the token for a value. While anyone can download an image from the Internet and frame it, only the buyer of the NFT token for that image owns the image. The work becomes more valuable because of digital scarcity. Also, with online virtual galleries devoted to NFT art springing up, one of the requisites for displaying art there is proof of ownership. “NFTs are that proof,” Agrawal said.

World over, there is a lot of curiosity and excitement right now. A few of Agrawal’s digital artists have approached him for help or advice and he believes that the tech-based artists are excited and easily convinced. But there is also a feeling that NFT art is a fad that will fade out. “Blockchain currencies are getting stronger by the day and crypto billionaires will not let it fail,” Agrawal said. “More than a fad, this is a new theme of art which is here to stay.”

PUBLISHED BY– bangaloremirror


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