Tue. Sep 26th, 2023

NYC is awash in NFTs at the moment. People from all across the NFT community have been flocking to NFT events since Monday to chat about the future of art and build excitement for the space, as well as to find fresh and potentially game-changing ideas. An unusual number of hours spent in Times Square, an unexpected Strokes concert, as well as a large number of men sporting crypto-related merchandise have been the outcome.

The two-part Dreamverse event, held at Terminal 5’s massive music hall, was the cherry on top. Between the car dealerships and wedding dress shops that line Manhattan’s west side, you’ll find the venue. Terminal 5 was transformed into a digital art exhibition for the most of the afternoon, displaying emerging NFT artists. With headliner Alesso and what the event promoters promised would be the “inaugural showcase” of Beeple’s $69 million NFT, it transformed into a nightclub like Cinderella in the evening.

what an NFT Looks like IRL

Like a normal art gallery, except with TVs and men in WAGMI hoodies filling the space.
I didn’t watch much of the programming this week, but I couldn’t resist seeing what it meant to see a “approved” debut of a work that I’ve already seen hundreds of times online and can download in a resolution of 21,069 x 21,069 whenever I want. (the file is a browser-breaking 319MB large). After bringing it up in a meeting this week, I was given the task of covering the event as well. Because our editor-in-chief asked me to check out the party and report back, I made two trips up to Terminal 5. It took me around 4 hours to go from The Verge’s office to the gallery and the party/unveiling that followed.)

The gallery itself looked and felt just like any other, save for the TVs and WAGMI sweatshirts that littered the space. No matter how much people argue, NFTs don’t have much of an impact on the way art is shown in public spaces just yet. All of the works were displayed totally digitally on a large number of televisions that had been installed throughout the stadium. Some were moving, while others remained stoic. In addition, it served as an outlet for artists to present a kind of art that is popular on the internet, but would otherwise be absent from a regular gallery.

The centrepiece of the Dreamverse museum was a series of televisions mounted on color-changing light tubes.

In March, Metapurse acquired a Beeple NFT for $69 million, and the art they curated during the event felt like it might fit inside the Beeple universe. In one piece, a man/pig hybrid creeping toward a big vaginal entrance was depicted by Pussy Riot. A Guy Fawkes mask and a glowing bitcoin were depicted in another piece. Instead of a blockchain address or a marketplace for NFTs, the QR codes on the artworks all pointed to Twitter profiles.

All of us assumed that everyone else was more interested in the National Football League than we were.

In addition to the three floors of this, the venue had a roof space with sunshine and a smoking area on top, where visitors could enjoy a virtual NFT gallery within this genuine NFT gallery.

A group of people had gathered around a man on the roof, looking at what appeared to be a deck of tarot cards, when I climbed the ladder and made my way up there. As he showed off a single card as part of what I imagined was some type of magic act, people and photographers alike looked on in awe.

A man sitting next to me inquired, “Do you have any idea who this person is?”. He had no idea who either of us were. One of the Metapurse’s supervisors, Twobadour, turned out to be the mystery man.

It wasn’t the only one like this. Many of the people I spoke to said they were interested in NFTs, but they weren’t as enthusiastic about them as the other attendees or the NFT fanatics we all assumed were around us. Visitors to the gallery weren’t sporting their Blue Chip NFTs. The two Metapurse chiefs, Twobadour and Metakovan, were a mystery to them. Beeple was dressed in a blue sweater and white oxford shirt when a line of several dozen people developed to take selfies with him.

While he was doubtful of NFTs’ usefulness, he was curious to see what a digital art gallery looked like, so he came to the exhibit. The emperor’s new robes was his proposal for my article as I walked out the door, and I complied.

By Adam

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