Some artists have started minting their NFTs on the smaller and more environmentally friendly marketplaces popping up, but many haven’t made the move yet. The question is what it will take for artists to move en masse to using them. Chan and Coleman hope their decision to use a cleaner blockchain raises awareness about the options beyond Ethereum. “It’s very important to consider: ‘Which path do we take in terms of the ecological impact?’ We are deciding what future we want to build,” Coleman says. “We should think about which avenues we want to take to get there.”
Some think carbon offsets are the answer. Kirsten Anderson of longtime Seattle gallery Roq La Rue is working with entrepreneur Art Min (who previously ran the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation at Vulcan) to launch a curated NFT art platform called Phosphene. The platform will buy carbon offsets and invest in so-called “carbon-scrubbing” technology to be carbon negative, Anderson says. (Still, carbon offsetting is a flawed mechanism that doesn’t solve as much as people would like to believe, experts say.)
“There is a whole sea of collectors who are on the younger side, they have tech money, and they’re used to buying things within the digital world,” Anderson says. “The [local] art community’s big conversation has been: How do we bring in the tech money? How do we get tech collectors? This is how you do it because that’s what they understand — this is their language.”
Phosphene’s first launch, in April, will be a series of NFTs by Electric Coffin, a local artistic duo known for their pop art installations and multimedia branding artwork. They’ll offer up one of their Sweet Savage Love Tiger images (in this case, a tiger with a truck on its back) as a digital NFT, as well as a few others as editions. The duo is currently debating whether to offer the physical artwork (hand-painted and screen printed on glass) with the sale. Another other option: smashing it, so only its digital version remains.
Min sees even more options ahead. In the future, an NFT might come with a ticket to a gallery opening, for example. “There’s a lot of potential in activating those inherent capabilities of crypto blockchain and technology to lift up the art community and realize new opportunities,” he says.
Crypto-art believers promise this is just the beginning. From special holographic screens that display NFTs as three-dimensional art on your wall at home to virtual art galleries and museums you can visit by popping on a virtual reality headset — much more is to come.
“As soon as these virtual reality worlds really go mainstream, that’s where all this artwork is going to end up. It’s going to be ported right on to your VR …, a gallery in virtual reality,” says artist Ken Ballard.
The dream, says artist Hannah Selene, is to go even further and create another art realm altogether. “Digital art enables these 360-degree creations of other worlds and environments,” she says. “The creative possibilities are endless.”