As digital art becomes more widespread each passing day, you might be wondering what an NFT is. Are you ready to discover the world of NFTs with Akbank Sanat’s newest exhibition?
The Non-Fungible Token (NFT) craze has created unprecedented hype, even though digital arts have been popular for a while. But what are NFTs? Will they transform the art scene?
An NFT is a token that represents a currency like Bitcoin on the blockchain. However, while the likes of bitcoins can be fungible, which means they are tradable for another cryptocurrency, NFTs are unique and cannot be replaced with something else. You may think of NFTs, which appear as a part of the Ethereum blockchain, as a unique proof of ownership over something you can’t usually hold in your hand, such as a digital artwork or a video clip. They basically show that this work is a one-of-a-kind digital asset that’s just yours.
In short, popularized in both the financial and art worlds, an NFT is a unique identifier that can prove ownership of digital products. Some people, including Turkish media artist Refik Anadol, see them as a reaction to those who do not see digital art as a real art form, while others treat them as if they were an evolution of art collecting, only with digital art. As the latest cryptocurrency phenomenon becomes increasingly more popular, artists have even been utilizing it to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion in terms of military and humanitarian aid.
Akbank Sanat, one of the pioneering art centers in Istanbul, has prepared a comprehensive exhibition centering on the topics that occupy today’s art world. “Now in Digital Art: Alternate Realities + NFT” naturally highlights media art and NFTs in Akbank Sanat’s building, which looks artsy from the outside and offers a sincere atmosphere inside, on the buzzing Istiklal Street.
The exhibition was actually launched after the Digital Art talk series that Akbank Sanat started on its YouTube channel in 2020. The talk series, hosting artists who work, think and produce in the field of digital arts, has been offering insight into their artistic journeys, sources of inspiration, works, new topics that excite them, current projects, suggestions for young artists and what developments await the art world. Literally taking a snapshot of the moment in the art world, the talk series is diversified this year with the exhibition “Now in Digital Art: Alternate Realities + NFT.”
Curated by Zeynep Arınç, the show aims to create an exciting space for art lovers while showcasing works that revolve around creative thoughts and practices focusing on technology and society along with topics that occupy today’s art world. It brings together pieces by artists working on visual arts, sound art, representation of complex data, augmented reality and immersive environments using digital technologies.
After receiving a warm welcome from Arınç during my visit to the exhibition, I curiously began looking around to check what was waiting for me in this experience. The first section that visitors see is a series of NFTs. The colorful NFTs, comprising of digital animations, drawings and illustrations, are so attractive and flamboyant that I was hypnotized for a second in front of them, totally forgetting why I was amid my fascination. While the orange hues of Juki’s “Venus is Here” captured my attention in a second as it was colored with my favorite, vivid tones, Selin Çınar’s “Mursi Tribe” illustration came to my rescue after I started to search for a work to neutralize the shock to my eyes with its all blackness. While the show deals with NFT issues with an objective approach in this section, it surely aims to delve deeper into the subject under the lens of different perspectives and artistic views. Associate professor Selçuk Artut served as the curation consultant of this section.
Following the NFTs, two different works bring visitors to different worlds. The first one is Osman Koç’s “Yarattığımız Rüzgarlar” (“Gusts We Create”), which offers an interactive experience with the help of software. As you move, you can see the effects of your movements on a screen. Thinking that we have lately focused on how we’re impacting the space around us beyond the pandemic, Koç aims to underline how we affect the space we share and emphasizes that this moment is temporary, just like the wind. The other work is “Öz yaratım: Birlikte Oluşmanın Katmanları” (“Selfmaking: Layers of Becoming with”) by Yağmur Uyanık. It consists of a 3D printed sandstone sculpture of a hybrid character created as a result of combining digital models of two original sculptures in the British Museum. The sculpture questions how personal narratives and collective memory are shaped through cultural assets, cultural value and symbolic meanings inherent in them. The material of the work, sandstone, is a fragile material and implies the concept of temporality.
The exhibition continues with the digital works on the second floor. Apart from dealing with the curation of the NFTs, Artut also contributes to the selection of it with his “Assemblage.” The generative art created with custom software combines traditional patterns with digital art. Another artist that blends the traditional with modern in the exhibition is Ecem Dilan Köse. Two shots from the artist’s “Cryptomarble” videos bring the fascinating colors of marbling art through media.
While Can Büyükberber’s audiovisual installation “Primordiyal Kuvvet” (“Primordial Force”) presents the visitors with ravishing scenes, mixing water splashes with human facial forms, Candan Şişman’s installation “Olasılık Örüntüleri V2” (“Patterns of Possibilities V2”) questions possibilities – like the work’s title suggests – with the random throwing of dice on a black scene.
There are more works to be discovered by aliottoman (Nura Aliosman), Alp Tuğan, Burak Beceren, Burak Şentürk, Dist Collective, Dolce Paganne, Elif Varol Ergen, Haydiroket, Kien, Kübra Su Yıldırım, Mekazoo (Derin Çiler), Mert Tugen, Ozan Türkkan, Tolga Tarhan, VAMK (Uçman Balaban) and Yiğit Yerlikaya at the exhibition.
“Now in Digital Art: Alternate Realities + NFT” surely is a show that enthusiasts should experience themselves. With this exhibition, Akbank Sanat, which highlights young artists and supports the development of art in all its exhibitions, awaits new members, visionaries and thinkers of the art world. The show will remain open until May 7.
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