Patrons or the art-curious can visit the new “Born in Chicago ” imnotArt Gallery exhibition and bid on Ethereum-based NFTs in person or through a web browser.
Chicago’s First NFT Gallery
imnotArt is Chicago’s first physical NFT artwork gallery, with an identical and linked version available in the CryptoVoxels metaverse. The gallery’s debut exhibition, “The New Digital: Born in Chicago,” opens on Saturday and features new work by numerous NFT artists. From the outside, Chicago’s imnotArt looks like any other boutique art gallery, but once through the doors, a significant difference becomes immediately evident.
Instead of static paintings or prints, the walls are replete with HD screens showcasing dramatic, animated artwork, ranging from Sinclair’s twitchy, single-line compositions to ProbCause’s fusion of renowned pop culture icons. The entire exhibition has also been replicated in a video game-like metaverse universe, which is exhibited on the rear wall and is fed with live footage from the real gallery. Every piece of artwork in the gallery is an NFT minted on Ethereum, and you may purchase a one-of-a-kind item for your personal collection.
NFTs allow digital art to be sold in the same way that physical art is: an NFT is essentially a blockchain-backed deed of ownership to a digital item, allowing you to verify its scarcity and provenance. Granted, digital art still can be easily duplicated, stored, and shared, but NFTs provide a method to give it value and support the artists who create it.
Recently, Chicago’s first NFT art gallery, imnotArt, opened in the artsy Wicker Park district. The gallery has previously staged community-focused events, but on Saturday, it will open its first major exhibition, “The New Digital: Born in Chicago.” The exhibition, now slated to end August 22, includes new work from artists such as Chuck Anderson, Sophie Sturdevant, Sean Williams, and Willea Zwey.
All NFT pieces are displayed on a large HD screen, allowing the artwork—most of which is animated in some way—to stand out against the gallery’s stark white walls. Instead of a placard, each item is accompanied by a QR code. Scanning it with your phone pulls up a webpage with information on the artist and the artwork, as well as an auction link.
However, it is not the only method to experience imnotArt, as the gallery also exists in the online metaverse. Within Cryptovoxels, an Ethereum-powered virtual environment, there is an exact reproduction of the physical gallery. It has the same layout as the real-world location and displays the same NFT artwork on the walls. It’s the same place, but reconstructed with 3D voxel visuals.
Visitors will note there is a direct convergence between the two. The physical gallery contains cameras that link into the virtual gallery through a Twitch hookup, and a live feed of the metaverse gallery is shown on a giant screen in the Chicago site.
You’re able to watch yourself on Twitch inside a virtual reproduction of the area if you’re standing inside the physical gallery. It is quite a strange experience. It’s also useful.
A Hybrid Gallery
The hybrid physical/digital NFT gallery, which was conceived earlier this year in the middle of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is partly a response to travel limitations and health concerns. It enables NFT fans and members of their community to view exhibitions from the comfort of their own homes (or anyplace else) while remaining linked to the physical space.
Aside from that, the dual-gallery presentation ensures local events in Chicago have a genuinely global component, with guests coming from all over the world to examine the digital artwork and place bids as they like.
This Is No Pop-Up
The co-founders, who self-funded imnotArt, include Matthew Schapiro and Zachary Grochocinski, and this is no flash pop-up: they have a year-long lease with an option to extend. Aside from future exhibitions, the team intends to use the facility for content development and community involvement.
Along with putting on a recent Ethereum development event, the gallery will invite NFT collectors from the Bored Ape Yacht Club to host a meet and greet in September.
It’s a lofty goal for any art gallery, but the attention to detail and care for the patron experience paid to imnotArt’s real and virtual venues suggests that the founders view themselves as digital evangelists- focused on spreading the word about NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and decentralized technology, one visitor at a time.
Jay Speakman is a technology writer based in San Francisco, California. He writes on the topics of blockchain, cryptocurrency, DeFi and other disruptive technologies. Clients include Avalanche, Be[in]Crypto, Trust Machines and several blogs devoted to blockchain gaming. He will not rest until fiat currency is defeated.