Is graphic a digital art

NFT art: How are digital works of art changing the market?

Status: 04/07/2021 8:25 a.m.

Works of art from the computer have so far been smiled at. Now the work of an American digital artist has been auctioned for $ 69 million.

Listen to the article4 min

by Joachim Hagen

A man on a gray sofa is fascinated by the television broadcast of an art auction at Christie's in New York. His work is currently being sold for $ 69 million. Mike Winkelmann is this man's name. For years, he published a small picture created on the computer every day under his stage name Beeple. The work, now sold for $ 69 million, is a collage of these images.

The auction was made possible by a new encryption technology. As a result, image files are saved on the Internet in such a way that they can no longer be changed. The heart of this technology are so-called "Non Fungible Tokens", or NFTs for short, ie "non-exchangeable tokens" that are stored in the network. This turns a normal file into an original that can be traded. The name of the owner is also linked to the picture via NFTs.

Hype about digital marketplaces

But are these new technological possibilities really the reason for the current excitement about digital art? Aram Bartholl, professor of digital art at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, thinks this is unlikely: "Digital art was also sold beforehand. Classically, the gallery issues a certificate. But here is this hype and these platforms that have one generates new attention. "

These platforms are digital marketplaces that not only sell computer images. The Canadian singer Grimes recently auctioned the video of one of her songs there - for just under $ 400,000.

NFT platforms also pose dangers of manipulating the art market

Aram Bartholl has been observing this increased interest in digital art for a long time. One reason: Because of Corona, the classic art market has dried up. Many galleries are closed and art auctions are rare. But the hype is also deliberately fueled: "The artist Beeple is also a shareholder in the company that bought his work of art. We also see a situation here like the British artist Damien Hirst, who buys his own work of art to drive up the price. That is Nothing new. There was also classical art where markets are manipulated and money laundering is carried out. In this respect, this NFT system and the art market go very well together. "

Arguments speak against the market maturity of the NFT system

Robert Ketterer, the boss of the Ketterer auction house in Munich, is also skeptical when it comes to opportunities for digital art on the art market. What worries him most is the technology. The computational effort to make a picture the original and to link it with the name of the owner is gigantic: "In this respect, I think that it will not be interesting for the auctions with today's technology. The transaction costs are too high . The ecological side is a catastrophe. These are all arguments that do not yet speak in favor of marketability. "

But Ketterer is also a realist. If there is a market for digital works of art, the established auction houses will soon join in too.

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NDR Info | Culture | 04/06/2021 | 09:55 am