A special type of art gallery in Chicago is emerging as a brick and mortar pioneer in the digital art world.
The imnotArt art space in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood bills itself as the city’s first physical NFT gallery and one of the first of its kind in the world.
An NFT, or non-fungible token, is digital content tied to the blockchain, the digital ledger keeping track of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. A popular type of NFT is digital art in the form of images, videos, or audio. After a collector purchases an NFT, their proof of purchase is recorded on the blockchain, most often that of Ethereum.
Inside the imnotArt gallery, screens displaying different digital artwork line the walls. During “drops” or NFT exhibitions, visitors can use their phones to scan QR codes and place offers on NFTs.
ImnotArt founder Matthew Schapiro said the gallery’s name was an ironic nod to NFT opponents.
“People watch this and they’re incredibly skeptical, like ‘Is this art? What is that ?’ ”Schapiro said. “This is how we found our philosophy and our name – we clearly believe in its art and we wanted to build a gallery to present it in the best possible way.”
NFT made international headlines on March 11, when the digital artwork “Everydays: the First 5,000 Days” by artist Beeple sold at Christie’s auction house for $ 69.3 million – the most expensive NFT ever sold. On November 8, Christie’s sold another Beeple NFT, a 7-foot structure covered in LED screens called “Human One,” for $ 28.9 million.
Before imnotArt opened to the public in June, it virtually existed in the Metaverse – an increasingly popular digital landscape since Facebook recently announced a major investment in technology and rebranding as Meta. .
Now visitors can view NFTs in person or virtually. On Friday, imnotArt hosted the NFT drop of the “Souvenir” project by visual artist Brendan Fernandes.
The environmental impact of TVNs is a major criticism of the industry. Hitting NFTs, or tying digital art to blockchain, consumes a lot of energy. Fernandes said he hopes to pursue his NFT art ethically.
“Two percent of that drop will go to sustainability by seeking out different sources to generate a building community, but also supporting tree growth and dealing with the environmental issues that come with it,” Fernandes said.