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Italy4Innovation - “Non-fungible Tokens in Art: Beyond the Hype”



Italy4Innovation - “Non-fungible Tokens in Art: Beyond the Hype”

The most recent event in the Italy4Innovation series, entitled "Non-fungible Tokens in Art: Beyond the Hype", focused on crypto art, a topic that straddles art and technology. The event was also part of the Italy at Frieze initiative, held during Frieze London Week.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), or "collectibles" - artworks are transferred from one owner to another by means of blockchain - debuted in the art world just a few years ago, but have already caused considerable disruption. Seen by some as a scam or as just another type of value token heading for a bubble, these artworks are nevertheless frequently valued at seven-figure sums, and there is not an auction house, gallery or museum that is not taking notice.

The panel discussion aimed to address the issue from all possible angles. The panelists were Carolina Mostert of Sotheby's; Maria Grazia Vigliotti of Imperial College, an expert in blockchain technology; Alex Estorick, an art critic; and Andrea Bonaceto, an artist and blockchain investor with the fund Eterna Capital. The discussion was moderated by Mark Waugh of DACS, an organisation that protects the rights of visual artists.

The discussion was wide-ranging, covering the technological specificities and the aesthetic, philosophical, social and cultural implications of crypto art. The turnover associated with crypto artworks is significant and their value as an asset class seems incontrovertible. There is a proliferation of contracting platforms, an area in which London is emerging as a technical innovation hub and crucible of artistic experimentation.

It was also observed during the discussion that NFTs are both a catalyst and a manifestation of pervasive digitalisation, a trend in which art tokens are just the tip of the iceberg. This can be seen in the way younger generations have embraced the phenomenon, both using crypto art as a form of creative expression and purchasing it. The same is evident from the enthusiasm shown by techno-libertarians, who see crypto art as a clear sign of radical change in social and institutional paradigms. There is also strong interest among collectors and galleries, thanks to the proof of ownership offered by blockchain, and among creators of artistic content, who can use blockchain to secure a perpetual and automatic source of remuneration.

The discussion was opened by the head of the embassy's Economic and Trade Office, Counsellor Massimo Carnelos.