NFT this, NFT that. Over the past year, this acronym along with some strange digital ape art has been filling up our social feeds daily. It’s the latest craze that’s taken the internet by storm. But for many, including me, this digital concept has just left people feeling, well clueless.
NFT stands for a non-fungible token, which doesn’t really ease the clueless feeling, does it? In basic terms non-fungible means something one-of-a-kind. Something that is unique, that only the owner has rights over. An NFT comes in many digital forms, whether it be art or music. These tokens become non-fungible through blockchain technology to validate their uniqueness.
Think of if you bought a Mona Lisa print for £5, that’s not the original. You don’t own the real deal, the framed original paint. Wouldn’t it be nice to own this? Through NFTs, you can purchase an original digital piece. These special NFTs are bought using cryptocurrency. This is just a digital currency made to be exchanged through a computer network, not reliant on governments or banks.
An abundance of celebrities joined in on this art form, helping fuel the craze. Model Bella Hadid collaborated with reBASE to create 11,111 3D scans of herself. In an aim to create a meta-nation where she can meet her fans digitally. Snoop Dogg released his first collection “A Journey with the Dogg” to celebrate his successful career. The limited drop lasted for only 48 hours and Snoop Dogg earned over $100,000 for just one of the pieces sold.
Eminem purchased a “Bored Ape” art that had similarities to himself for around $450,000. Other people can take this image off the internet but because of the blockchain technology he will always own the “original”. These examples may show how rich people will always have fun being rich. But NFTs arguably offer more to the art world than that.
The future is always exciting and this offers something new to create. Digital art has often been a difficult world since it’s so easy for credit to get lost. One quick scroll down your timeline, a save of an image to your gallery and then credit has already been forgotten. However, creating work within the blockchain allows digital artists to have ownership like never before. Artists are able to have more control over their own success and even build a community.
However, as with everything relatively new, there are negatives that come with it. With digital things we often forget how much energy they use up. As NFTs rely on cryptocurrencies it means a huge amount of carbon emissions are being produced. Their platform reportedly uses 48.1 kilowatt-hours of energy per transaction. Its energy use is the same as using a laptop for 3 years and flying for 2 hours. One transaction of an NFT is equal to an average household’s energy use in one day.
Shocking, I know. Along with that, there are accusations that many use NFTs as a money laundering scheme. Today’s society loves a good conspiracy theory, but as the currency isn’t overseen by anything central to society it is very possible. There is a high risk of this happening as it’s all done through the internet. The Treasury Department noted that criminals could self-launder money by purchasing and passing the NFT through digital accounts.
While they offer a new fun art form, their impacts are ruining the future it aims to be in. There’s a lot to digest when it comes to NFTs and I’m not so sure that a cartoon ape is worth all the downsides. At least now we won’t be so confused when we see these colourful images and difficult words.