The term of Digital Art originated in the 1970s-80s when pioneering digital artist Harold Cohen created AARON, a robotic machine designed to make large drawings on sheets of paper placed on the floor. In 1985, iconic artist Andy Warhol created digital art thanks to a computer publicly introduced at the Lincoln Center in New York. An image of singer Debbie Harry was captured in monochrome from a video camera and digitised into a graphics program. Warhol later manipulated the image adding colour by using flood fills.
To make it simple, Digital Art is an artistic practice that uses digital technology as part of the creative or presentation process and is under the umbrella of what is called New Media Art. Digital Art has largely evolved over the years, obviously following the evolution of technologies which have transformed activities such as painting, literature, drawing, sculpture and music.
Facing at first some resistance and scepticism from the art industry and the general public, it has become more popular over the years. New art forms, like digital installation art and virtual reality, have been recognised as artistic practices. More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has lead to a surge in the usage of technologies, enabling more creative opportunities for artists, and also for art lovers to enjoy artworks through online fairs and auctions, interactive exhibitions and immersive art experiences.
The apogee of this new trend has been reached with the emergence of NFT (Non-Fungible Token), a registration of ownership of a digital asset on a blockchain, proving the authenticity of digital collectibles, meaning they are unique and irreplaceable, unlike other traditional online art that can be easily reproduced. NFT enables collectors and artists alike to verify the rightful owner and provenance of digital works. And most importantly, it also enables royalty fees to be paid to the artists every time the NFT is sold.
Hong Kong is no exception to this new art trend and will see its first-ever physical and virtual art fair featuring a 360° immersive art experience and NFT crypto art. Founded by Gillian Howard and James Neary, Digital Art Fair Asia will take place from 30 September to 17 October at the former flagship location of Topshop in Central, with the aim to inspire a new generation of art lovers and collectors using cutting-edge technology including blockchain NFT, augmented reality and virtual reality to display world-class immersive art experience and NFT digital contemporary art.
The idea of creating the first Digital Art Fair Asia came right after the record-breaking sale of NFT digital artwork Everydays: The First 5000 Days by Mike Winkelmann, aka Beeple, auctioned at Christie’s in an online auction on 11 March 2021 for a record sale of USD 69 Million. (Read our feature about it here: NFT artwork sold for record-breaking USD 69 Million)
Considering that Hong Kong was behind the Digital and NFT Art trend, Gillian Howard and James Neary decided to bring to the city the first platform for artists, leaders from both art and technology industries and for digital art collectors to share resources and knowledge in a physical location”.
In a 20,000 sq. ft venue situated in the heart of Hong Kong, the fair will present over two hundred artworks from forty international and local artists, experts of digital and NFT art, in a hybrid physical and online format, featuring a futuristic 360° immersive art room.
Setting a new standard of international art fairs, using advanced technology to display art, the fair will be split into five different art zones:
● IMMERSIVE ZONE featuring, among others, international new media artist Refik Anadol, pioneer of 3D immersive art with an ultra-high-resolution immersive art room, as well as futurist artist Krista Kim, creator of the ‘NFT virtual house’.
● PRESTIGE ZONE featuring worldwide renowned new media and NFT contemporary art collections, including works from Andy Warhol, King of Kowloon and Jacky Tsai. Some artworks will be brought from 2D to 3D through sophisticated image recognition and mapping of advanced technology.
● PIONEER ZONE co-curated by digital artist Derry Ainsworth and urban art specialist Hannah Smith, featuring Hong Kong-based artists like Sean Foley, NFT cyberpunk photographer; SurrealHK (Tommy Fung), master of photo manipulation; and Szabotage, prolific urban artist.
● NEW MEDIA ZONE featuring established local talents such as NFT sound artist and “Godfather” of Chinese hip hop, MC Yan, and leading Hong Kong digital artists such as Henry Chu, who was recently commissioned by Hong Kong’s M+ Museum; and Victor Wong, the creator of A.I. Gemini, the world’s first artificial intelligence ink artist.
● VIRTUAL REALITY ART EXPERIENCE ZONE featuring DSL collection VR art museum, the first virtual art museum established in 2005 by Paris-based collectors Sylvian and Dominique Lévy, including over three hundred artworks by over two hundred Chinese Contemporary Artists.
More than hundred pieces of NFT crypto artworks will be available for purchase at the fair and online. Each piece will have a near-field-communication (NFC) chip, new technology allowing to track and authenticate the artworks.
In addition to showcasing NFT and Digital Art, the fair will also offer a series of programmes and talks with leading voices from the art and technology industries, such as Sylvain Lévy, Co-Founder of DSL Collection; James Neary, digital art collector and Co-Founder of Digital Art Fair Asia; John Keh, Chief Marketing Officer of Genesis Block Hong Kong; and Vitomir Jevremovic, Founder of VR-All-Art.
Even before its opening, Digital Art Fair Asia is already a hit since other Asian cities such as Singapore, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou want to have their own fair.
Hopefully, Digital and NFT Art will now have no more secrets for you!