Canadian artist Krista Kim has just sold the world's first non-fungible token or NFT house for more than $500,000. Called Mars House, it is a turnkey, state-of-the-art pad, cantilevered over a mountain range.
As luxury house prices go, half a million dollars is something of a bargain.
In art terms, compared to the multimillion-dollar figures commanded by paintings by artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh and Banksy, it is pretty good sum for an artist Forbes Magazine describes as a "digital Rothko".
That's because Kim's Mars House does not actually exist, neither as a house, nor as a painting. Instead the artwork lives entirely in the digital realm. And now it has been sold as an NFT.
NFTs are a way to prove ownership of a digital asset. Using blockchain technology that stores the data across thousands of computers, a unique, permanent and verifiable record or code is created and assigned. And it is impossible to alter, and serves as an unimpeachable record of who made it, and who owns it. This type of encrypted record can be assigned to anything that is unique and indivisible, from a digital artwork to a virtual baseball card.
Kim’s work bridges the gap between art and technology, and she founded the Techism movement in 2014.
With a “light is the new ink” ethos, Kim, who lives in Toronto, often uses software-manipulated digital images of LEDs to create her work. She also collaborated with Lamborghini in 2019, and Lanvin for its autumn / winter 2018 collection.
In her latest work, the artist created the Mars House using software usually found in video games, to construct a virtual rendering of a building she describes as a "light sculpture."
As a firm believer in the power of meditation, Mars House was created to facilitate the search for inner peace. Kim said: "I believe there is hope for the future if more people meditate. We will manage stress, but most importantly, we can tap into our maximum creative potential. More than ever, creativity and collaboration are the antidote to fear and war. Beauty, collaboration, co-creation and meditation are the attributes that we must focus on collectively and globally in order to thrive and navigate opportunity amidst the chaos of disruption."
The structure itself is starkly modern, open plan with uninterrupted views over the surrounding Martian mountains. The furniture is moulded, see-through Perspex, made into chairs, tables and loungers.
The bedroom is housed within a see-through cube, with bedding in shades of copper, and overlooks wrap-around seating and a large circular table. The floor, meanwhile, seems have integral pool, that ebbs and flows as if tidal. Presumably, the joy of working in the digital world, is that it is not governed by the same rules as real life.
As well as floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and the ever shifting iridescent colours, the house also comes with a soundtrack which will be familiar to anyone who has visited a high-end spa.
Sold through the platform SuperRare, the original asking price for Mars House was 30 Ethereum tokens (a cryptocurrency similar to bitcoin). It eventually went to a buyer called @artontheinternet, for 288 Ethereum tokens, or $515,459.
Taking to Twitter, Kim said the majority of the proceeds would be donated to the Continuum Foundation to “support a world tour of healing sound and light installations for mental health and healing.”
NFTs are sweeping the world at present, with everything from tweets to videos of slam dunks changing hands for eye watering sums.
Hailed as either a saviour for the art world, or the latest get-rich-quick crypto fad, depending on view point, they do offer the tantalising prospect of being able to own the digital original of something physical. Or, as in the case of Kim's Mars House, the digital version of something that doesn't exist at all.