Art Basel, the main global platform connecting collectors, galleries and artists was on hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic. This year has therefore been bigger, flashier and more innovative than ever.
It was the year of digital art and the formal introduction of NFTs to the masses.
My journey into NFTs and digital art began on Sunday November 28 at the private invitation-only Empress Jet and Cube Art Fair event at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport.
Upstairs, I got a virtual reality glimpse of Empress Jets’ metaverse and their “Crypto Runway Airport,” with Empress Jets founder Nicole Garcia, which was brilliantly conceptualized by a local company from Miami, XR Labs in collaboration with Lilas Studios.
Empress Jets is also revolutionizing the private aviation industry by launching the first NFT jet charter marketplace and blockchain jet membership club. Nicole’s ultimate goal is to enable aircraft owners and brokers to auction and auction jet charters to Empress members. Members themselves can also resell flights or seats on their booked trips and interact in the Metaverse via VR worlds that will include Crypto Runway Airport, Grand Prix Racecourse, and more.
Downstairs, while sipping Reinart Champagne, I was hosted by Cube Art Fair founder Gregoire Vogelsang, who explained the infamous Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT, a unique digital collectible of images of monkeys, stored under form of ERC-721 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain, four of which were on display. All were accessible for purchase by scanning a unique QR code. Interestingly, these NFT Bored Ape have doubled up with a Yacht Club membership card and provide access to member-only benefits.
On December 1 and 2, Cube Art Fair continued to present NFT artists to the public on 50 billboards and kiosks on the streets of Design District, Wynwood and Downtown Miami. On December 1 and 2, a giant 400-foot-tall art wall projection was mapped onto the Intercontinental Hotel, illuminating the skyline in place of the infamous 9-story digital canvas of the “Dancing Lady. “.
Chanel hosted a private and public drone viewing event on Hotel Faena beach on December 1, which was seen above Pilar Zeta’s glorious Hall of Visions sculpture. A spectacular 1,000 drone light show (produced by a collaboration between my friends at WPP and Intel) has sounded on the 100th anniversary of the iconic Chanel No.5.
VIP guests were served by platters of food and drink in a beautiful beach lounge, produced by Prodject, while public spectators were given star-shaped cookies and caramelized popcorn in plastic bags , with personalized tags hanging with the No.5 logo, handed out from a large silver Airstream motorhome that parked next to Chanel’s beach lounge.
Loud and deep house music muffled the sound of the crowd who gathered at 7pm for the VIP viewing, as we cheered the sea of drones down to the beach, which then created art images, an impressive bottle of Cologne 3-DN ° 5, and TM symbols of the House of Chanel, including the double C logo and the camellia flower.
Steps north of the Chanel drone show, another crowd gathered to see Turkish-American artist Refik Anadol’s brilliant creation, projected onto a huge monolithic screen facing the ocean. A pioneer in the aesthetics of machine learning, his “Machine Hallucinations: Coral” was based on millions of photographs of underwater corals. Inspired by the ocean environment, Anadol’s dreamlike, abstract and immersive experience, created using data-driven machine learning algorithms, comes close to the natural world and offers viewers a new way of seeing shapes , colors, shapes and movements. Anadol’s correspondent NFT was released on Aorist on November 30, 2021.
I saw Anadol’s digital art masterpiece during the day and will say it was just as stunning to see day and night. The “Machine Hallucination: Coral” and “The Hall of Vision” art installations at Hotel Faena emerged as the “must see” public art installations during Art Basel and personally these installations were my favorite too.