How to frame your NFT

So let’s assume you bought an NFT. Not because you want to make a bunch of money and just have to shoot it – we’ll call those folks JPEG fins – and not because someone sold you for a great idea about “community” and you didn’t buy an NFT as much as a link to. a Discord – those are yacht clubbers – but you bought it because you liked the look of the thing. Maybe you are a collector, maybe this is the first piece of value you have ever acquired. In any case, you bought it so as not to sell or use it. You bought it to watch it. Do you want to hang it in your home!

On the one hand, you have many ways to display your digital art. It’s just a photo, after all. (You might as well – gasp – just print the item out and hang it on the wall.) Virtually any screen you have will display it well, and it’s still there on your phone anyway. But your 50-inch LCD panel won’t do the piece justice, though, not quite.

As NFT art becomes more valuable and as artists begin to worry more about how their digital art is displayed in the real world, the question of how to display your digital collection has become more complicated. Galleries wanting to promote digital art need to rethink not only the devices they use, but also how they light their gallery and how people move through it. Artists, accustomed to their work always maintaining the form in which it was created, now have to think about both the digital and physical versions of their creations. Art collectors often face a whole new set of decisions about how to display their pieces. And you thought NFTs were complicated.

Scott Gralnick has been thinking about NFT displays for a while. He is now the co-founder of Lago, a company that builds a $ 9,000 NFT frame designed for high-end collectors, but has been in the cryptocurrency and Web3 business for nearly a decade. When he talked to his fellow cryptocurrencies, Gralnick says, the same thing kept repeating itself. “I have a multimillion-dollar collection,” they said, “and I had to adapt it to a television. I don’t want to show it on my computer, I don’t want to show people my phone, how can I take it to my house? ”

Gralnick and his co-founders set out to build something for those people, but also something that might entice traditional art buyers – who may not accept the idea of ​​phone-bound art at all – to enter the NFT space. “I had friends who were having dinner at Christie’s, Phillips and Sotheby’s, and they get NFTs, they get minted artwork,” Gralnick said. “But each time it boiled down to one question: How do I enjoy it at home?”

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Gralnick now calls the Lago frame an NFT “mass consumption” tool, which is enough to say about a $ 9,000 frame. The team wanted to make sure the bezel couldn’t be mistaken for a TV, so they chose a 33-inch, 1920 x 1920 square display. An optional camera sits below the frame, just above an optional soundbar, which both artists can use to increase their pieces. “Maybe they build something unlockable,” Gralnick said by way of explanation. “If I perform the right sequence of gestures, it unlocks it. Or maybe I turn around and actively throw it into the other frame. You can use the Lago frame to view an NFT or use the complementary mobile app to scroll through the entire collection. Or, if you’re so inclined, feature a rotating series of pieces curated by NFT influencers. (Gralnick says these come with clear indications of which pieces you own and don’t own, so don’t pretend the monkey is yours.) In this sense, the frame can be both a display and a distribution channel – an NFT museum in la your own home.

Astronomical price and all, Lago has sold the entire stock in pre-orders. Unsurprisingly, the dedicated NFT screen is a booming industry. by Tokenframe displays range from 10 to 55 inches and cost up to $ 2,777. Netgear has actually turned its digital photo frame business into an NFT, and its Meural screens go up to $ 599.95. Canvia came up with a similar pin. Frame And Danva and others all make similar promises about their luxurious digital art exhibits, though most startups are still firmly in the hype and pre-order stage. For the DIY crowd, you can use a Raspberry Pi and the TokenCast protocol to build your cheap NFT screen.

Since all you technically need to get into the business is an LCD display – and not even a particularly high-end one – startups in the industry have come and gone quickly. Qonos, for example, launched in 2021 and claimed to have sold out its first set of frames that could access the owner’s collection plus an entire gallery of art curated by Qonos. There is now virtually no sign of Qonos aside a private Squarespace website. (Qonos founder Moe Levin did not respond to a request for comment.)

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Joe Saavedra, the founder of Infinite Objects, thinks all of this is a bit much. Many companies, he says, “are really making televisions that do a lot less than a television. And in the end it is a gallery, a presentation of your NFTs, so it doesn’t matter if this NFT you paid $ 10,000 and this was an Airdrop, they are all close to each other. And you’re just scrolling. When he decided to build an NFT frame, he wanted to build the least interactive and least gadget thing he could make.

Infinite Objects began with “video printing,” which basically means embedding a display within a simple frame, setting a single video to loop forever within that frame, and sending it out. to you. “When you take it out of the box, it lights up in your hand,” Saveedra says. “It has no buttons or switches, there is no interface.” The result is much more like a painting straight out of Harry Potter: a moving piece within an immobile object hanging on the wall or shelf.

Saveedra is now doing the same thing with NFTs. Infinite Objects worked with Mike Winkelmann, who you may know as Beeple, to create and ship physical versions of every NFT Winkelmann sells. It also works with Dapper Labs and is the official frame of NBA Top Shots. Printing your NFT starts at around $ 120. You can purchase frames 6.4 to 11.4 inches high, displays surrounded by bamboo or acrylic. The displays themselves aren’t particularly impressive – 1024 x 576 on the larger model, lower resolution than the original iPad in 2011 – but Saveedra seems to think that the very existence of a durable physical object is more important. “If it’s on a TV, I can just flip it over, right?” he says. “Okay, okay, next one.”

Steve Sacks, the founder of the bitforms gallery, which has been presenting digital art for two decades, is also adamant of the “don’t just put it on a TV” side of the equation. “You don’t want to make it to the NBA playoffs and then ignite your $ 100,000 piece of art,” he says. “This takes away a lot of things.”

Some artists, Sacks said, care deeply about the screen their artwork ends up on. They will give a specific resolution and aspect ratio, even the size at which their piece should be displayed. Others will go so far as to actually create the object on which to display their work. In that case, Sacks says, “The artist is providing us with a sculpture. Art is not just the content; it is the object that accompanies it “. But many of the things Bitforms displays and sells are what he calls “unframed works,” where the file is sold and the buyer can view it however he likes.

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At the Quantus Gallery in London, things work a little differently. Josh Sandhu, co-founder of Quantus, says that when the team was preparing for its first NFT show, they tested six or seven different TVs. Now 36 Samsung Frame sets line the walls, some vertical and some horizontal. “The matte appearance is quite similar to a real print,” Sandhu said. “They are quite of quality.” Quantus wants to experiment with other display ideas – Sandhu wants to build a wall of retro TVs, organize a VR exhibit, and understand holograms – but for now, TVs do the trick.

This is the problem with NFT art and how we show it. Ultimately it’s not a question of graphic fidelity or pixel density, but of purpose. Do you buy an NFT so you can always watch the JPEG? Or is it an NFT about your relationship with the artist, with other collectors, even with the underlying technology? And perhaps equally important, who decides? With physical art, most of these decisions are made when art is made and when it changes hands it becomes impossible to track and control. With NFT and blockchain, tracking is the point; artists can know exactly who owns their work and collectors can know exactly who created it. So whose art is it, really?

No one I spoke to claimed to know the answer. And almost everyone said it’s part of the fun. NFTs have a specific use. They are a deed of provenance, a claim of ownership and authenticity that has never been possible before. Artists are learning to like technology for it. (And for the ridiculous sums of money they make from minting NFTs.) Now, as prices and enthusiasm drop and JPEG fins and yacht clubbers fade from the scene, the art crowd is starting to understand how the art world interacts. digital and physical. And exactly what resolution it requires.

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