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NFTs, aka non-fungible tokens, are all the rage right now. A way of storing artwork on the blockchain for fun and profit, it’s an attempt to create artificial scarcity in a world of endless digital reproducibility. The simplest way to think of an NFT is, essentially, as a digital autograph. While a piece of artwork in the real world could be endlessly copied, a genuine signature on that artwork is only authentic in the original version. As such, NFTs provide a way to sell ownership of a particular artwork online.
With NFT mania running wild, there’s no shortage of unusual non-fungible projects coming out of the woodwork. Some, like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first tweet selling for $2.9 million as an NFT, are well known. But others — from robot-created artworks to collaborations with rap royalty — have not been quite so highly publicized.
Here are four recent NFT projects likely to raise eyebrows (and, perhaps, some serious bank).
NFTs created by robot artists
Robots that create artworks aren’t unheard of, but how about a robot that creates NFTs? Crazy, perhaps, but that’s what the folks at the open-source IoT platform Robonomics Network did recently when they turned a former welding robot called Gaka-Chu into an NFT artist that sells tokenized versions of its physical artwork, along with the videos of the creation process.
“The initial idea was to create an autonomous and financially independent robot,” Vadim Manaenko, the main engineer on the project, told Digital Trends. “But since it was too boring to give the robot some regular functions, it became an artist that can support itself, buying art supplies and paying electricity bills. Gaka-Chu is a retired welding robot that got a chance to be a part of the creative industry, which was a life-changing moment for it. There was a great number of programmed manipulators drawing perfect shapes only, while we wanted to add some imperfections, making Gaka-Chu’s art feel more natural.”
Whether Gaka-Chu’s robo-art NFTs become big business remains to be seen, but past evidence certainly suggests that people are willing to pay a premium for the right robot-created artwork.
Ja Rule’s cheese sandwich
Remember the Fyre Festival, a failed, falsely advertised luxury music festival in the Bahamas co-founded by rapper Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland? One of the disgruntled attendees was a man named Trevor DeHaas. DeHaas took issue with the fact that the A-grade dinner at the event, tickets to which cost up to $12,000, was “literally bread, cheese, and salad with dressing.” He tweeted this out to his followers, alongside a sad picture of the limp dish. The tweet wound up going viral. Now it’s up for sale.
The dinner that @fyrefestival promised us was catered by Steven Starr is literally bread, cheese, and salad with dressing. #fyrefestival pic.twitter.com/I8d0UlSNbd
— Trevor DeHaas (@trev4president) April 28, 2017
“A few weeks ago I saw [Twitter founder] Jack Dorsey’s tweet sell for close to $3 million which inspired me to sell my viral tweet: The cheese sandwich from Fyre Festival” DeHaas told Digital Trends. “With how hot the NFT market is right, now I figured I’d give it a shot and could hopefully raise enough money that I wouldn’t need to rely on a GoFundMe to pay for my medical expenses.” (Note: DeHaas has kidney problems.)
DeHaas tried drumming up interest in the NFT himself, but couldn’t gain any traction. Then he spotted that Ja Rule, the Fyre Festival co-organizer, was selling an NFT himself on a platform called Flipkick. “I figured I’d reach out to Flipkick to see if they would help me sell my Fyre Fest NFT,” DeHaas said. “Little beknownst to me, Ja Rule was a founder of the company. When I learned this I had some doubts Flipkick would help me — but when I reached out the CEO told me he loved the idea and he would run it by Ja Rule. Ja thought it was a good idea and was willing to help me out.”
So a tweet about a scam festival being sold as an NFT by a disgruntled customer, together with the co-founder of the festival he was disgruntled about. Don’t you just love 2021?
Pro wrestling jumps on the bandwagon
Professional wrestling has given us plenty of initialisms over the years — from promotion names like WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) to trademark moves like the GTS (Go To Sleep) and STF (Stepover Toehold Facelock) to truncated catchphrases like Steve Austin’s DTA (“Don’t Trust Anyone”). Now the WWE is adding one more to the mix: NFT. At last Sunday’s WrestleMania, the No. 1 pro wrasslin’ company debuted its inaugural NFT drop, celebrating the (supposedly now finished) career of the iconic Undertaker.
The NFTs are tied to images “showcasing iconic moments from The Undertaker’s legendary WWE career.” Hopping on a hot pop culture trend is what wrestling does, making this a surprisingly unsurprising match-up. WWE has, for years, talked up the value of individual “moments” in its history, like the time poor old Mick Foley was tossed off a Hell in a Cell by The Undertaker. Now it just remains to be seen whether those moments can translate to genuine collectors’ items.
Created by cyberpunk artist Michah Dowbak aka Mad Dog Jones, Replicator is an NFT project with a twist: It’s an NFT that can create new NFT works of art every 28 days. Replicator boasts seven “generations of artworks,” with each generation producing unique NFTs at a different rate. Each subsequent generation produces one fewer work of art until generation seven, which will produce none at all. The owner can sell any new artwork that’s produced along the way. Like a real photocopier, it can also periodically jam — resulting in “Jam Artwork” that’s unique, but won’t replicate. The whole thing sounds kind of bonkers, but in a way, that’s fascinatingly artistic. Bidding runs through April 23.
“This work is particularly fascinating because it takes the secondary market into account right from the beginning,” Rebekah Bowling, Phillips’ senior specialist of 20th century and contemporary art, told Digital Trends. “Mad Dog Jones has thought about his community of collectors from the inception of the work, providing them with a situation unlike any other. There’s an entirely new strategy they need to think about when buying and selling these pieces — do you wait for a work to reproduce before selling? Do you hold onto it? What’s more valuable: A rare piece, or one that has the ability to keep producing new work? There are so many considerations to keep in mind, which has never really been at the forefront of the discussion before.”