Could NFTs spark a photography revolution? Meet the innovators
As the Web3 Fellowship platform brings world-class photography to blockchain, including recently created work by Joel Meyerowitz and Pieter Hugo, we explore how NFT photography is changing the way we buy, sell, authenticate and experience art
When the concept of NFTs entered the mainstream and took hold in common parlance, it seemed that the revolutionary benefits of the medium – smart contracts built around artist royalties or the ability to digitally authenticate works in perpetuity – were quickly eclipsed by the sheer volume of content. . But now, a new generation of Web3 fine art platforms is increasing the cultural cachet of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), elevating them beyond online marketplaces and framing them with thoughtful curatorial impetus.
Founded by a forward-thinking group of artists, collectors, and creative minds, including Holly Hay, Director of Photography at Wallpaper, Fellowship brings museum-worthy photography to the blockchain. “We want to push the boundaries of photography’s existence in the digital space by showcasing traditional artists and fields alongside more experimental and active artists of today,” explain co-founders Alejandro Cartagena and Chadwick Tyler . “Not only do we commission ‘indigenous’ works, but we encourage emerging artists through programs to create works that have yet to be conceived. Our intention is to shine a light on the way the world is today through photography and create a new path for artists to reach new audiences.
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy Jealousy Eifersucht, 1927 © Laszló Moholy-Nagy
The organization’s first NFT photography auction featured works by Gregory Crewdson, with other auctions and exhibitions featuring Laurie Simmons, Larry Sultan, Hank Willis Thomas, and the estates of August Sander and László Moholy Nagy. Fellowship also builds an active community through weekly discussions and panels with leading figures in the arts, photography, collecting and publishing. (Beyond that, Fellowship offsets all mint fees and is committed to being carbon neutral).
With over six decades of artistic practice under his belt, Joel Meyerowitz has experienced the evolution of photography more deeply than most. “Photography is the only art form that constantly renews itself through changes in its technology, while sharing those changes with the world’s population. It is the most democratic art form in the world. The medium has been like this almost since the first moment of its creation. It was always “collectible,” Meyerowitz says. “Now we have NFT: a remarkable new way to collect large images of the past and present, except that you can now only have one hit image, rather than an unlimited number The rarity that photography collectors have always sought is now a reality.
Peter Hugo, Hyena and other male hyena males, Abuja Lagos Nigeria2007 © Pieter Hugo
South African photographer Pieter Hugo is another artist embracing the medium: “I reflected on the changes I had to make in my career from 35mm to medium format, from color negative to digital. The nature of photography is so evolutionary and has always been tied to technology – you have to adapt. I would hate for my work to sound like a sentimentalist reiteration of an expression that has existed in the past and I am excited for change.
The potential applications and opportunities for artist estates are also promising. Guy Bourdin has continually innovated visually and conceptually throughout his career – so what would he have thought of blockchain and his Fellowship exhibit? “Bourdin was an early adopter of new devices and technologies, unhappy with the print quality in the publication,” his estate comments on his collaboration with Fellowship. “We think he would have embraced and enjoyed the possibility the same way Joel Meyerowitz approaches the medium. We are committed to constantly improving the way his works are presented, and the progressive technology behind Web3 would have been something he would have liked to explore.
Initiatives such as the stock exchange are building a vital and thoughtful foundation for NFTs – more importantly, guaranteeing their endurance in a significant way. “It’s very important to Fellowship that they talk about photography both in and outside of the NFT space. It’s about the future of photography as a whole and supporting artists with new opportunities,” adds Hay. “In my role, I feel a responsibility to understand and support new possibilities in photography. This space offers real potential for funding new work, [and in terms of] who can access it and from where. §