Header Image: Allan Banford, "Passion", 2019
For the past few weeks, a new buzzword has been flitting around in art circles: NFT. This buzz comes from a debate of whether non-fungible token (NFT) artworks are the future of the art world or a danger to the planet. Debate aside, NFT art has certainly made its mark on history. On March 11, 2021, auction house Christie’s sold its first-ever purely digital artwork by an artist named Mike Winkelmann — known online as Beeple — at almost $70 million. This marks not only the first time Christie’s have sold a purely digital artwork but also accepting cryptocurrency along with other, more traditional forms of payment.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are “unique files that live on a blockchain and are able to verify ownership of a work of digital art”. This feature of NFTs addresses one of the big problems with digital art, namely that it is easily reproducible and hard to track down to its source, unlike a physical work with provenance. With NFTs, artworks can always be traced and can do so more reliably than traditional paperwork.
Digital art is by no means a new artform. The form can be traced to as early as the 80s when computer engineers programmed a robot to draw on paper. Since then, the form has evolved in leaps and bounds, with some works acquired by renowned institutions like Tate and MoMA. The beauty and advantage of digital art is its endless possibility. Unlike traditional, physical mediums that are constrained by physical limitations, size, and the laws of physics, digital art is infinite and full of unrealized possibilities.
This endless possibility is reflected in the many forms that digital art can take. It can be something as simple as a digital painting created in Microsoft Word or something as complex as a highly programmed, room-sized installation that reacts to the actions of the viewers within. The engineering language often used to help us in our daily digital lives can also be used to create stunning artwork. One artist who’s been exploring this medium in depth is Allan Banford. He has experimented with the media and has used it to create many different artworks. In one series titled Energy and Motion, he created an algorithm that would continuously mimic the paint strokes of Jackson Pollock’s Number 5. In another, titled Vectorium, he wrote an algorithm that would endlessly generate vector graphics based on mathematical equations.
Banford is also very familiar with NFT artworks. He’s created one himself, titled Digitalism NFT (also available as prints). Unlike Beeple’s work, which is a collage of all the daily digital art he’s created since 2007, Banford’s NFT artworks are “created by an algorithm developed by the artist that decode characters or number combinations into 20 million pixels colour sequences depicted on a rectangle or square format. Every single work is unique and it can only be recalled by typing the same original combination.” This digital series was specifically created by using an algorithm with the ability to decode single or group of letters or characters into a mathematically perfect piece of abstract artwork. Yet another example of just how varied digital artwork can be.
Despite the debate on NFTs, and cryptocurrency in general, there is no doubt that digital art not only will stay but is the undeniable future of art.
View more of Allan Banford’s works here: https://www.artgence.co/artist/allan-banford