Imagine what it would be like if all the precious horns, furs, and tusks of endangered animals could be replaced with digital tokens. This could make poachers happy. Derek Lewitton, a South African resident, is working to make this happen in Limpopo. Lewitton is the Black Rock Rhino Wildlife Preserve’s chief executive. He has been an advocate for legalizing international rhino horn trade and humanely harvesting them so that horn prices can drop and poaching will be less profitable.
Poaching is not a problem. Instead, it encourages poachers and other poachers. This is what you need to do. Lewitton’s preserve now looks at non-fungible tokens (NFTs), as a solution for rhino conservation challenges. Earlier this month, the inaugural rhino horn NFT—a digital replica paired with a humanely harvested horn which is locked away for safekeeping—was auctioned off for Momint, Africa’s first NFT exchange marketplace, is selling 105,000 South African rand (6782) These NFTs are not real-world tusks or horns from illegal hunting and will be used to replace the animal trophies that poachers want. For some trophy collectors, who use these animal parts as stores of value they can gaudily display, this may be desirable—and indeed it was to Cape Town businessman Charl Jacobs, the highest bidder.
These digital assets, which are stored on blockchain with verified transaction histories and owners, could be used to reduce poaching. Sports fans have already gotten in on the craze; the NBA’s sales pitch tells fans to “own your fandom” via its Top Shot NFTs, created by Dapper Labs—basically digital snippets of high-profile on-court moments. Collectors have the option to choose from different levels of NFTs in an ascending order for scarcity or exclusivity. Roham Gharegozlou, CEO of Dapper Labs, reported on Tech Crunch Fans have been very enthusiastic about the product, with it increasing from 4,000 to over 400,000 users within weeks. Top Shot has 600,000 registered users just two months after its launch. NFTs demand is also high in other places. Top Shot sold almost 150,000 NFTs during the first two months 2021. This was a total of $310,000,000 Forbes According to reports, it is almost quintuple what was sold during 2020.
But so far NFTs have primarily been a useful evolution within the art world—a way for collectors to verify the authenticity of the assets they’re buying, to ensure that they’re not reproductions. NFTs can be compared to original Picassos and Monets. Digital art which looks identical to the NFT will look similar to the Picasso or Monet prints you could buy online. NFTs have a distinct advantage over traditional art because blockchain technology guarantees that the NFT will be the authentic original. It is true original, no forgeries allowed. For those who—irrationally or not—care about exclusivity and authenticity, the assurances provided by the blockchain provide a lot of value for which collectors (and crypto enthusiasts) are willing to pay top dollar.
Despite high-profile entrées into the NFT space by auction houses like Sotheby’s—which auctioned off the first-ever NFT by Kevin McCoy for $1.4 million earlier this year—and Christie’s—which auctioned off a $69 million work by Beeple—NFTs are attractive because they have eliminated some traditional gatekeepers and middlemen. If they are to succeed in traditional markets, artists must pay their fair share to earn favor from auction houses, galleries, or collectors.The digital artist can now sell directly to potential buyers via a platform. It’s not a long-term career path or a secretive group of collectors that only one broker has access to. Danny Fuentes is a gallery owner who has represented artists that feel the internet has taken away their right to decide where their artwork will land. Rolling Stone. Artists have the option to attach royalty arrangements to their NFT. This means that every time the NFT goes resold the artist receives a percentage.” It allows lesser-known artists to earn a living, if they have loyal but small fans.
Some NFTs are also a great way to experiment that wasn’t possible before at in-person locations. Terra0’s Two Degrees is a program sold by Sotheby’s. It will completely disintegrate itself if Earth’s temperatures rise “at least 2 degrees Celsius higher than average global temperature” right now. Damien Hirst, an artist, is trying to destroy his art. His project “The Currency,” involves the sale of 10,000 pieces of physical art that corresponds with an NFT. Reports state that buyers would have one-year to choose whether they want to keep the NFT or not. In which case, the artwork would be burned. Artnet News. Or they could retain the tangible work but give up rights to blockchain-based art. The market allows people to wager on the art form they think is most valuable, giving Hirst, and others, valuable information about the perceptions of NFTs.
While some worry about NFTs being overhyped and others believe they are a poor application of blockchain technology, there are those who aren’t. Anil Dash, skeptic, wrote that blockchain technology has been a sanctuary for individuals who require another location to keep their assets over the last decade. He worked alongside McCoy in creating the first NFT. Atlantic.Dash claims that blockchain is only used in cryptocurrency trading markets. Because of this, people who make those bets are unable to cash their money anywhere. So they buy art with crypto. Think of a child who has spent all day Skee-Ball, and now has lots of tickets. Every toy looks enticing. “NFTs” have been a very popular toy.
They are the core of NFTs. This is because they allow creators to capitalise on the fact people want ownership and exclusivity, even in today’s digital age. People prefer authentic Cartier watches over fakes. Blockchain-age NFTs are a continuation of the allure Veblen goods has long carried.
Walter Benjamin believed that “the technique of reproduction removes the reproduced object form the domain of tradition.” In 1935, Benjamin argued that “even the finest reproduction of a work or art lacks in one element: its presence in space and time, its unique existence at this location”. While NFTs cannot be tethered to a particular point in time, Benjamin likely meant that it. However, they tap into the essence of what Benjamin said. People long for authenticity and will pay for it. “For the very first time, “Images of art have become fleeting, ubiquitous, insubstantial”, John Berger stated in 1972. He was referring to Benjamin’s ideas, and asserting that artwork is being degraded by the ease of reproduction. Even though Berger’s words are still relevant today, NFTs aim to capitalize on this market of authenticity and ubiquity.