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Metavism: A future artform?

Modern humans, or Homo sapiens sapiens, have been creating art ever since they emerged from the African savannah. But we’ve since come a long way from rock art and cave paintings. Fast-forward a couple of hundred-thousand years or so and we’ve progressed through a series of movements, from The Renaissance, through Mannerism, Baroque, Neoclassical, Romanticism, Realism, to Modernism and Post-modernism. But what next for art?

As we move deeper into the digital age, artists are increasingly turning to digital art, adopting creative practices that use computer graphics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and non-fungible token (NFT) technology. This form of art has been around for nearly as long as we’ve had computers. In the early 1980s Harold Cohen, one of the pioneers of digital art, used a robotic machine to create large drawings on sheets of paper placed on the floor. Improvements in digital technology in the 1990s, provided artists with even more creative freedom and, in recent years, digital art has become more interactive, allowing audiences to participate in the creative process. More recently NFT technology has created a multi-billion dollar art market, providing buyers of digital art a certificate of ownership. Bored Ape Yacht Club, the ground zero for NFT "collectables", comprises tens of thousands of computer generated cartoon images. Bored Ape NFTs double as Yacht Club membership cards, granting access and members-only benefits to NFT owners. To fans Bored Ape NFTs are a status symbol, a key to an exclusive “swamp club for apes”, where ordinary folk can rub shoulders with the rich and famous, including Brazilian footballer Neymar, tennis legend Serena Williams, US talk show host Jimmy Fallon, and Madonna.

The Metaverse will provide an infinite virtual canvas for artists to experiment. This fresh medium will drive a new art movement, which is naming ‘Metavism’. Metavistic artworks will range from new, three-dimensional representations of two-dimensional artworks – imagine exploring of the source of eponymous scream in Edvard Munch’s masterpiece – to entire worlds for people to explore. These world-scale artworks will harness not only the four observable physical dimensions of length, width, depth, and time, but also new, virtual dimensions. Proponents of Metavism will highlight the power of ‘total’ immersion, because viewers will be able to ‘inhabit’ the artwork and interaction, because audiences will be able to contribute to the creative process, from inception to realization.

Alberto Giacometti is quoted as saying that “the object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.” In this sense, it’s tempting to argue that the Metaverse itself will be a work of art in its own right and, if art is one of the things that make us human, then the Metaverse will only enhance our humanity.

If there’s one thing that can be sure of, it’s that the first works of the ‘Metavists’, artists who work with the medium of the Metaverse to create works of art, will be worth a small fortune by the end of the century.

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