The future of art: NFTs are here to stay

UAE digital art market is still growing in comparison to global numbers


Purva Grover

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Published: Sun 31 Jul 2022, 12:17 AM

The one thing that we most certainly know about the future of art is that it might not ‘look like art’ at all. At least, art in a way that we know and also as we expect. To start with, the pandemic shook the art world and gave way to virtual galleries and online concerts, further the increasing affinity to the ‘new’ led to the wide experimentation and acceptance of NFTs and art in the Metaverse, and more. What lies ahead? We can only predict, correct?

Fully immersive experiences await

Thomas Gateff, co-founder and managing director, M2L Concepts, is interested in the transformation process, particularly the merging of all business verticals gathering on Metaverse platforms such as the UAE-based Megaverse. He remarked, “The Experience Economy is currently booming. Due to the pandemic, consumers are demanding more virtual experiences on everything from augmented and virtual reality and the Metaverse to cryptocurrencies. The future is multi-channel web3 platforms where people can earn a passive income by playing games, buy virtual real estate and view art while having a fully immersive VR experience enjoying these platforms.”

Thomas has had a diverse career in the attractions and leisure industry during which he established several key entertainment concepts across the region in Egypt, KSA, Lebanon, Kuwait and Oman. M2L, also known as My Second Life, is an interactive leisure and entertainment company that provides organisations access to new experiences utilising innovative technology to create concepts that engage and enhance customer experiences. He added, “In MENA, the VR market is growing rapidly, forecasted to reach $23,042 million by 2028, and is implemented across various industries. The pioneer mentality of Dubai is paving the way for this.”

Digital art, window to many fresh dimensions

“Being a traditional artist, I focus on showing movement in my composition. NFT animation brought this element to life, gave my work a different dimension and evoked the feelings I want to show even further,” said Magda Malkoun, an artist born in Beirut. She has been living in Dubai for the past 17 years, and is a member of Tashkeel (a contemporary art centre and facility in Dubai). She recently exhibited at Art Dubai 2022, Bulgari Contemporary Art Award, Gateway to the Metaverse (House of Wisdom, Sharjah), and more. Her piece Contemplation is on display at the ongoing exhibition, Made in Tashkeel.

“Just like any artist, who could venture into multidisciplinary practices by moving, for example from paintings to sculptures, NFT is a new medium that caught my attention because it allowed me to express my work using a different dimension. Visually and aesthetically, digital art will enhance the experience of the viewer in how one can interact with the art pieces, know more about the artists and their process and maybe have a glimpse of how this art piece was done,” she added. Her work encompasses a series of figurative and abstract art using different types of material and tex ture not only as tools to paint with, but also to create forms.

Web3 is the wild west right now

“I’d like to tell the artists to not be afraid to experiment. Web3 is like the wild west right now where the rules of the new NFT art market are just being formed. The UAE digital art market is still growing in comparison to the world numbers. For instance, among the countries with the incorporation of digital startups and NFT that received investments in 2021, US leads with 41 companies; in second place is Singapore with 8 companies and the UAE and Canada share third place with 4 companies each,” said Darya Prodaevich, Art Director, Theatre of Digital Art (ToDA), Dubai.

ToDA is a digital art theater that offers a unique immersive experience to its visitors. Also, according to one of the recent reports by FuelArts the priorities for Art + Tech startups and investors on the market radically changed in the weeks since the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, “Their centres have moved from the CIS countries to the UAE (Dubai) and Indonesia (Bali), where crypto communities are becoming even more significant right now,” she added. Jonas Lund, a Swedish conceptual artist, who creates paintings, sculpture, photography, websites and performances that critically reflect on contemporary networked systems and power structures, said, “Recently, at Art Dubai, we saw major sales for some of my peers, with works going between 80 and 90 ETH (circa $200,000) and I only see further growth in demand not only at these high prices but also for all levels of work.” Jonas’ NFTs, which can be seen at Galloire, a Dubai-based contemporary art gallery, give us a glimpse of a future that is already here.

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