NFTs vs physical works, authenticity in the art world
Join interview with Aleksandra Jovanic and FeralFile's team led by Emanuela Mazzonis
Emanuela Mazzonis: Good Morning FeralFile et Aleksandra Jovanić. FeralFile works with curators, artists, and institutions to explore new ways of exhibiting and collecting digital art. This is the definition that appears on your website’s home page. Name. Can you tell us exactly what FeralFile is, when has been founded and what is your main activity?
FeralFile: In 2019, we started an experiment called A2P, an artist-led online exchange. This work eventually led to the launch of FeralFile as a digital art gallery and publisher in early 2021. For many of the participating artists in A2P, this was their first NFT and FeralFile's Artist & Collector Rights came directly from our learnings with A2P. FeralFile’s mission is to develop a sustainable ecosystem for digital art. On one side, this relates to how we support artists in developing their careers. On the other, we look at making digital art accessible to the masses, from the perspectives of pricing, technology, and education around the works.
EM: Aleksandra you are a ‘web worker’, if I may use this term, you won various awards for your work (for design and web projects mainly in the field of culture and arts), your practice mostly focuses on interactive art, art games and generative art. Thinking about some of your projects as ‘Mendaciorum Ortus’, ‘Silky alogorithm’ where you are using generative processes to produce aesthetical forms or ‘Over 7 seas & 7 mountains’ where computer game and art are interconnected, I want to ask you how and when did you start interfacing your art process with the world of the web, gaming and generative art?
Aleksandra Jovanić: In fact, it was the other way around; I began my studies with programming and by the end of my studies, my interests had shifted to web development. Although art and design were always present in my life, postgraduate studies in digital art were critical to starting my artistic career. Both web and gaming (specifically art games on the web) were intuitive fields, and I focused more on interaction, participation, and exploring all the possibilities of a medium. Programming became just a tool and was seamlessly integrated into all of my projects. Few years ago, one educational project I was working on inspired me to explore more about generative processes and generative art, both in combination with other media and as a craft on its own. In Mendaciorum Ortus, where all images are generated with varying degrees of system autonomy, the emphasis is on the exploration of various media development throughout history, defining characteristics of a specific media, or what happens when appropriations from other media are attempted to be rejected. Compared to that example, my piece for Luxembourg Art Week focuses more on the algorithm, process, and craft of generative art.
EM: At the beginning of October, Damien Hirst burned a thousand of his works of art, from the 'The Currency "series, in live streaming, keeping their NFT. The famous artist thus completed the transformation of his physical works of art into NFT, burning the physical versions; the value of digital or physical art, which is difficult to define, will not be lost at best, will be transferred to NFT as soon as the physical works are burned. We know that with NFTs, certificates that attest the authenticity of a digital object, it is finally possible to give value to digital works. We also know that buying an NFT is equivalent to buying an authentic, not the work. I would like to have both your opinion on Hirst's destructive action towards physical works and the value that the works have assumed by his NFTs. Will NFTs take the place of physical artworks and will we soon move on to having more digital art collections than physical cart collections?
AJ: Exactly one year ago, I was a part of the FeralFile exhibition - Graph, curated by Casey Reas, and the focus was on plotter drawings, where we started with an algorithm and ended up rendering final artwork in physical form using "the machine." NFT collectors received both physical and digital pieces. Collectors who began collecting through NFTs appear to have a growing demand for physical objects - collectors of digital pieces frequently approach artists with requests for digital prints when possible. For other digital media, such as animation or interactive pieces, NFTs provide a very useful means of distribution, discovery, and global visibility, and having a certificate of authenticity on blockchain becomes a fantastic solution. Therefore, I see NFTs as a quality addition to all media, rather than a replacement for physical artworks.
EM: During the Art Week all visitors will receive a generative artwork by Aleksandra in the form of a mint NFT on the blockchain and they will also have the possibility of buying artworks via FeralFile platform. FeralFile Can you anticipate us a little more about this procedure, which is also the first time that will be presented in the fair?
FF: We are excited to have the chance to work with Aleksandra Jovanić, along with Parallel and the Luxembourg Art Week to present this special gift through Autonomy, our new product and the world’s first digital art wallet. It should take you less than a minute to scan the QR code and accept your digital artwork. Yours will be completely unique to you - the fun is in comparing yours with your friends’! While this artwork is minted on the Tezos blockchain, Autonomy also supports Ethereum, as well as all FeralFile NFT artwork editions. When you get home, try connecting your artwork with a large TV or projector to see your artwork on a wall. In our time working on A2P and FeralFile, we’ve been privileged to work with many amazing artists and engaged with thousands of collectors who have supported our mission. In these interactions, a new question was posed to us: How do you live with digital art? Today, digital art is primarily enjoyed on small laptop screens through browsers. Collections are managed on blockchain “wallets” that look like financial apps, connected to the computer.