Famed auction house Christie’s wasn’t exactly sure what kind of demand it was going to see when it announced a $100 starting price for its first-ever digital art auction by way of a non-fungible token, or NFT, in February.
But as bidding wrapped up Wednesday on a collage of work, dubbed “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” from rising digital artist Beeple to top a price of $13 million, Christie’s Contemporary Art Specialist Noah Davis explained, nothing he’s seen before “even comes close.”
“The first 10 minutes of this sale we had more than 100 bids placed. We went from an opening bid of $100 to more than $1 million. We had bidders from seven different countries,” Davis told Yahoo Finance Live. “What’s a really compelling stat, and probably the most amazing to me, is only three of those bidders were previously known to Christie’s, so everyone else was brand new.”
That might not be terribly surprising, given how many people are still learning about NFTs and how the digital tokens function to digitize ownership of assets on blockchains. The tech has enabled verifiable digital ownership and the resale of anything from digital art, to NBA highlights that have re-sold for thousands of dollars on platform NBA Top Shot. Even the artist himself, Beeple (also known as Mike Winkelmann) only recently catapulted to mainstream fame after one of his other art works, a 10-second clip of people walking by a nude Donald Trump, re-sold for $6.6 million after selling for just over $66,000 four months prior.
This digital art piece which originally sold for $66,666 in October was just resold on the Nifty Gateway secondary market for $6.6 million. A 9900% return in less than 4 months.
The NFT art marketplace is insane! pic.twitter.com/Jvv8cCHRj2
— Zack Guzman (@zGuz) February 25, 2021
So why pay for digital art that anyone can view, download, or embed elsewhere for free on the internet? As Beeple and other digital artists have tried to explain: anyone can take a picture of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, but that doesn’t prove ownership of the Mona Lisa in the same way owning an NFT attached to the art piece can. Unlike physical art, ownership cannot be proven merely by possession, which is why the public history of an uneditable blockchain presents real value for digital art that can be readily copied.
“NFTs have a lot of very interesting and unique properties,” Davis said. “It establishes scarcity, it solves for the question of authenticity testing, there’s no way to forge this artwork.”
Critics might point out that NFTs are still a bit detached from a true sense of ownership. In the case of many NFT sales, commercial ownership for works of art remain with the original artists. NBA Top Shot’s NFTs for collectible video highlights also don’t give collectors commercial rights, either (the NBA retains those.) But to many, any sense of ownership is better than none and its given rise for an entirely new way of digital artists like Beeple to make money off of previously less valuable projects.
“I know that so many people are going to feel empowered to be creative with their digital art works,” Davis said about the first Christie’s NFT auction, adding that more could follow. “We are going to have a lot more responsibility in this space to curate our content thoughtfully and to offer only the best of the best to the audience we have.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the First 5000 Days auction, which consists of one NFT for a digital photo collage of every daily art piece from Beeple’s consecutive run of 5,000 days, had topped $13.25 million. The auction also marks the first time Christie’s planned to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment. Bidding closes Thursday at 9 a.m. ET.
Zack Guzman is an anchor for Yahoo Finance Live as well as a senior writer covering entrepreneurship, cannabis, cryptocurrency, and breaking news at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @zGuz.
Ladysmith Arts Council hopes a provincial grant can help get the art gallery back into its old venue – Ladysmith Chronicle – Ladysmith Chronicle
The Arts Council of Ladysmith and District has an opportunity to apply for a BC Arts Council grant, which could help the Waterfront Art Gallery return to its old venue at the Ladysmith Machine Shop. It requested a letter of support from the Town of Ladysmith, which was discussed at council’s Nov. 30 special meeting.
The grant could provide up to $250,000 for renovations of the old building. There is $4 million in the provincial fund to be distributed to arts organizations and the deadline to apply is Jan. 14. After discussing the letter, town council referred the issue back to staff to gather more information on the proposed project and grant application.
“We are disappointed of course because we feel uncertain about our future,” said Kathy Holmes, president of the arts council. “At this point, the arts council is going to be looking at all sort of avenues to find a home — wherever that is, permanently or temporarily.”
The grant application requires a detailed outline of the proposed project, with milestones and a timeline and it is required to have a completion date before the end of 2024.
Mayor Stone said the town would likely not hear back about the grant application within a year and it would take another year or two for design and construction work. “I am fully supportive of the concept of this — I just don’t see in my most optimistic viewpoint that we could find it as a reality between now and the end of 2024,” he said.
Coun. Duck Paterson said the town does not yet know when tenants will be able to return to the Machine Shop or where the funds to renovate it will come from — the grant, if successful, would only provide a portion. He questioned whether the town has the staff time and resources to help the arts council complete the application.
“We definitely have the staff to look after some of this. We do have a lot of this information we have compiled over the years through the Machine Shop project,” said Chris Barfoot, director of parks, recreation and culture. He added the town has cost estimates, but they are from 2018–19 and would have to be updated.
In order to find ways to plan a phased approach for the project, he said staff would have to go back and work with consultants. “We know that there is a price to complete the entire project. It would be a matter of how do we achieve a phased approach and what type of services and utilities need to be addressed to do that.”
Coun. Marsh Stevens supported sending the item back to staff to get more details to consider at the next council meeting. “I love that they are taking initiative as a community group to do this but I want them to be successful,” he said.
Paterson suggested the town give a letter of support for a separate part of the grant, which could provide $25,000 to assist with planning and consultation. “I know that’s not what they want, but I think it would be easier for us to accept,” he said.
The arts council will provide an annual presentation to council on Dec. 7 to update the town on its operations.
Rare First Nations Artwork Uncovered at Yukon Friendship Centre – CBC.ca
Staff at the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre were shocked to find 183 art pieces in their basement recently, many of them created by well-known artists.
“This recent discovery during this year of significant hardship has been a very welcome surprise,” said Bill Griffis, the centre’s executive director, in a news release.
The art was originally donated to the non-profit organization in Whitehorse back in 1997, but forgotten over the years as staff left.
Among the pieces found, 28 belonged to the well-known contemporary artist Carl Beam. The other 155 were created by Stephen Snake and other Indigenous artists.
Griffis said the next step is to determine the value of each piece.
“Each one [of Beam’s art pieces] has an appraisal certificate with them,” said Griffis. “Part of the process is to figure out what the value is now because we have a collection [and] there may be some historical value to it.”
Out of the other 155, about a third of them also had appraisals from the late 90s.
Significant impact on Canadian art sector
As one of Canada’s most ground-breaking Indigenous artists, the art from Beam is of particular interest.
He was from M’Chigeeng First Nation, located on Manitoulin Island, Ont. He was born in 1943 and passed away in 2005.
Beam had a significant impact on the Canadian art sector. His work, which ranged from Plexiglass to canva and other media, provoked conversations about the Indigenous experience of injustice in Canada.
Beam’s cousin, Joe Migwans, is a long-time Yukon resident and cultural mentor.
“He was my cousin by blood, but he’s more like my uncle because in our way, when we have a cousin like that, that age, he’s more like my uncle. I always listen to what he said to me because he’s my elder,” explained Migwans.
He said Beam’s work has a powerful message and is even more relevant today.
“He’s basically preserving those kind of snippets in this time and telling, and it kind of like how he perceives the world to be and what his take is on it. And then in the future, people will see kind of what was going on here from from his perspective,” he says.
Towards the end of his life, Beam started to talk more about what life could be or what life is all about, said Migwans.
“What it’s about is overcoming and then achieving something in your life and not having to go through what you did in the past. So your life can move forward. I mean, that’s the vision, right? And a lot of us back home that knew him and worked with him, we always believed that he was more well ahead of his time,” he said.
Migwans said art is used to tell a story and capture a moment in time. He added that most of Beam’s work came from his anger from residential schools and injustices towards Indigenous people.
“Some of the things he would like to really do was to take any stereotype around First Nations people. One of the things was saying our people were dirty Indians. Except there never was. We never were like that,” said Migwans.
5:06Art by Carl Beams and Stephen Snake discovered at the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre in Whitehorse
Beam was the first Indigenous contemporary artist featured at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
“He did it on his own in his own way. Not as a First Nations artist, as the contemporary artist, which means he’s just like anybody else. He’s not under the guise of First Nations or the idea that he’s entitled to something because he’s First Nation.
“He didn’t have to use that as something to get him forward,” said Migwans.
Out of nearly 200 pieces, some will be sold to the public and some to private galleries across Canada.
The remaining pieces will be part of a silent auction on the Friendship Centre’s website from Dec. 4 to the 14th.
The auction is part of a fundraiser between the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre and Sundog Veggies Training Farm.
Heather Finton, owner of Sundong Veggies, said the organization is grateful they can use the found art to raise some money.
“Not only is this artwork like amazing and so timely but the way that some of these gifts are going to be available to the community to support the work Skookum does is … it’s just a privilege to be part of these amazing story,” she said.
The two organizations have been collaborating since 2020 for the community lunch program which feeds several families in Whitehorse. They share a goal of building food security in the Yukon and creating opportunities to develop land-based skills.
Bringing Together Art & The Cosmos | astrobites – Astrobites
Anyone who has seen an image from Hubble knows that space is downright beautiful. It’s almost no surprise that the wonders of the cosmos have inspired art and culture for much of humanity’s history. Science art is both valuable for and created by scientists, science communicators, and really anyone with any interest in space. In today’s Beyond Bite, we’ll look at the role and importance of science art in modern astronomy, as well as hear from many science artists about what motivates them to create.
The Value of Science Art
Science is inherently creative
Although science is often thought of as separate from and more objective than art, people are finally breaking down that idea. Science is done by people, for people, and inherently includes all the complexity that comes along with that. Science also requires a great deal of creative thinking, a fact that is integral to the popular STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) framework of education. This educational strategy incorporates both arts and science into a holistic education, building students’ critical thinking, problem solving skills, and creativity.
Visual art also comes into play in part of the scientific process: data visualization. Designing engaging, understandable, and appealing plots is akin to a creative art practice, and there are even contests for the best plot art, such as the John Hunter Excellence in Plotting Contest. Sometimes, the mistakes of data visualization create abstract art on their own, too, as displayed in @accidental_art.
Art bolsters wellbeing
From art therapy to adult coloring books, there is ample evidence of the benefits of practicing art on peoples’ mental health and overall wellbeing. Science, on the other hand, has a history of being hard on mental health (especially in graduate school!) and encouraging poor work-life balance. Research has shown that having hobbies, such as creative and artistic pursuits, can lower stress levels and improve people’s sense of work-life balance. Although hobbies and art certainly have value outside of their use in science, they can also help scientists find new creative inspiration to solve problems and even improve their productivity in the long run. Scientists can also share their hobbies and art as part of their science communication, breaking down harmful stereotypes and even boosting their credibility and effectiveness in connecting with various public audiences.
Science communication through art
One of the most often cited reasons for making science art is that it helps share science in a fun way that engages broad audiences. Only a fraction of the science being done makes it to the public, partially due to the fact that many audiences harbor mistrust of scientists or are simply unfamiliar with scientific thinking and methods. Another problem is the widely used “deficit model” of science communication, in which people need to simply be given objective information to change their views and learn.
Instead of seeing emotionality as simply a barrier to objectivity, we can harness emotion to engage audiences and build trust, often through art. Art can open the door to a different model of communication—two-way engagement, in which people actively ask questions and participate in understanding scientific discovery. Nature has even recently extolled the virtues of artist-scientist collaborations, describing the results as “exhilarating, challenging, enlightening, stimulating, inspiring, fun.”
A 2016 study of science communication found that art is increasingly being incorporated into science communication and outreach efforts through artist residencies, classes, exhibitions, and more, although physical science lags behind other disciplines in its use of science art. Dedicated science art galleries and events are also growing, such as the The Art of Planetary Sciences show at the AAS Division for Planetary Sciences yearly meeting and the STARtorialist booth at the AAS bi-annual meetings. Some institutions, such as Caltech, also have art installations within their academic buildings.
Stories from Science Artists
Although research has looked into the value of scientific art, it’s impossible to truly understand the impacts and motivations to make astronomical art without actually talking with the people involved. Below are quotes from many different science artists, describing their “why” for creating art based on outer space or telling stories about ways science art has enriched their lives, careers, and more.
“I’m pretty into space cross stitch…I realized the pulsar plot profile would work perfectly, and it turned out awesome so I made a second when Jocelyn [Bell Burnell] visited our department for her! The pulsar plot profile I made her is of the first pulsar she discovered. Think I reached my peak nerd in that pic of the two of us for sure. She loved it!” — Dr. Yvette Cendes @whereisyvette [Images below courtesy of Dr. Yvette Cendes]
“I make my little astronauts because they remind me to explore in wonder, to appreciate having a breathable atmosphere, and to remember what we can do when we collectively aim ourselves at a goal!” — XXYXXYART @xxyxxyart
“I think it’s very important for artists to make the huge universe something that everyone can relate to and enjoy in tangible ways.” — Yugen Tribe @yugentribe
“There are a lot of cool images in the Hubble archive that don’t make it out to the public in a meaningful way, so I try to find those and bring them out. Other than that, it’s a fun way to explore and begin to understand astronomy and astronomers.” — Judy Schmidt @SpaceGeck
“Space is vastly interesting…I usually am inspired by whatever I am learning about as my amateur astronomer/space lover self. Oppy up there [in the image] was in order to keep busy while I was worried about the dust storm. New Horizons was designed just after flyby, and I worked on Juno while watching it arrive at Jupiter.” — Alyshondra Meacham @AlyshondraM
“I do a lot of sci art because I want people to appreciate the things I study in a way where they might not normally see them…I think also a big thing for me too is I love defying expectations, and I’m so tired of seeing scientists depicted in such one-dimensional ways…we have other passions, especially in the arts, and I think the two go hand-in-hand. I think being solely invested in a singular science is not sustainable and is more susceptible to burnout.” — Marina Dunn @Astro__Marina
“I’ve tried my hand at some astro artwork as part of our #AstroOnTap LA [outreach] posters (for Caltech Astro)…it’s nice to take a break from science to work on these. They’re a labor of love.” — Cameron Hummels @astrochum [Images below courtesy of Cameron Hummels / Caltech Astronomy on Tap]
“In a nutshell, I find it hard to communicate ideas verbally. I’m very socially anxious, too, but I appreciate that science communication is extremely important. This [art] was my attempt of using the knowledge and toolset I have to communicate science and my research.” — Soheb Mandai @TheAstroPhoenix
“I just recently became a science artist…When COVID took over and we self-isolated, I knew the only way I’d be able to get through it would be creativity and connections. I sent out over 300 postcards (mostly astronomy and famous women in science) all over the world. Then someone said I should make my own postcards…I began making Afronaut Space Art postcards that I send out to my patrons once a month. I love it. I never imagined I could be a space artist and now here I am doing it.” — Astronaut Dr. Sian Proctor @DrSianProctor
“I do #sciart for three reasons: 1) When the universe is trying to kill you, sometimes you just need to find zen in the art of planetary sciences. 2) Not all news stories have good art to go with them and I fill gaps. 3) The income makes a difference.” — Dr. Pamela L. Gay @starstryder
“10 years ago I needed an illustration for a book I wrote on astronomy in national parks. That illustration was so popular with park rangers it launched a career that eventually let me retire as a professor to pursue science outreach through art full time.” — Tyler Nordgren @NightSkyPark [Images above courtesy of Tyler Nordgren]
“Creating sci art gives me another way to communicate science to the public. As an astrophysicist, I’m passionate about science, but it’s nice to be able to take a visual approach. I enjoy making distant phenomena more tangible through a painting, like an exoplanet landscape of clouds on a brown dwarf.” — Dr. Lacy Brock @stellerarts
“I’ve always had an interest in science fiction pop culture, mostly inspired by stories of lone astronauts bravely fighting against the unknown. They hit close to home a few years back, when my dad was dying from cancer and it felt like everyday I was facing new, intimidating worlds. A lot of my work at that time shows small astronauts alone on fracturing moons. But despite all that threatens them, they stand and face the uncertainty. The setting of space is a great backdrop for stories about confronting change bravely and to express empathy for people whose experiences and struggles seem so distant from our own.” — Amy Hill @amyraehill
Astronomical art illustrates the importance of creativity in science, and has a number of benefits to both its creators and viewers, enriching lives, creating community, and more. Art can help us share science in new and engaging ways, and together with art we can gain a deeper appreciation of our place in this vast universe.
Edited by Luna Zagorac
Featured image courtesy of Dr. Yvette Cendes
Thank you again to everyone who shared their experiences and stories with science art for this Bite! If you’re on the lookout for more science artists, check out this list of science artists, curated by the SETI Institute.
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