Cover NFT collector WhaleShark by Genies (Image: WhaleShark)

Art and NFT lovers alike had a whale of a time at the second episode of Tatler TV: Meta Versed, a new, weekly online talk show that invites visionaries and leaders in their respective fields to share their thoughts on NFTs, the metaverse and cryptocurrency, and how they are reshaping the luxury sector.

The second episode was hosted on March 31, and featured the enigmatic NFT art collector Whale Shark, to the delight of artists and collectors hoping to gain some insight into the often confusing world. 

If you missed the first episode, you can now watch it here.

Whale Shark has definitely made a splash in the digital art world. Since he started investing in NFT art in 2019, he has acquired 404,227 NFT artworks at the time of writing, but has only sold three of them; his NFT art collection is known to be one of the biggest and most valuable ones in the world.

Tatler Hong Kong’s editor-in-chief and editorial director, Jacqueline Tsang, interviewed WhaleShark on how he started his collection, how he decides what to add to his “Whale Vault”, how digital artists have changed the landscape of the art world, and how it all affects us and the way we experience art.

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“Most people would call me a hoarder,” he joked. “And with more than 400,000 NFTs, it’s a little difficult to refute. However, the difference between a collector and a hoarder is that … all my NFTs are my children; and I know every single one of my 400,000 children. I might be the Genghis Khan of the NFT world!” 

He explains that there was a purpose and reason behind every NFT he has bought, and while he doesn’t play favourites, he does have preferences when it comes to collecting art.

“Something that is extremely significant that has not yet been realised by the market is generative art and AI-based art, which I believe is really [indicative] of our times,” he said. “All of a sudden, we live in this era where human meets machine, and together, through collaboration, we can make these beautiful masterpieces that reflect that dynamic. When you look at these pieces, it raises the question: who is the creator, and who is the curator?”

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When it comes to generative art, WhaleShark highlights Brendan Dawes as an artist he particularly admires, calling him a “force of nature”. 

“The reason I love Brendan is that he uses data that surrounds us around the world and integrates that with custom-built algorithms to generate these wonderful pieces that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also extremely intelligent,” he explained. “He does things that are not possible to do using traditional art methods, while at the same time integrating the human with the machine.” 

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WhaleShark collaborated with Dawes on a special project for this episode—the artist created a work called 60 Minutes on the Ethereum Blockchain for the occasion, which he would mint and transfer to 50 of the show’s viewers. 

Speaking to Tatler, Dawes said that at the time of the artwork’s creation, there were an average of 46,196 transactions on the Ethereum blockchain per hour, so each visible “strand” on the work represented one of those transactions and the whole piece became an artistic representation of how the blockchain is thriving.

 

Dawes also explained that the shape was made using the same algorithm he used in his original work, Trend Micro Art of Cybersecurity—a piece that was a really important point in his career. The difference this time was that he’d formed the shape from the word “blockchain”. 

On the show, WhaleShark also touched on how the world is changing world for artists and collectors, pointing out that the democratisation of art has resulted in people having to wear many hats within the space.

“With all respect to artists around the world, they’ve spent the majority of their lives focused on creation. All of a sudden when you remove that middle man, the creatives also have to be their own marketers, their own business managers, their own gallerists,” he said. “While I do believe that an artist’s work should speak for itself … artists are going to have to build up their skill set if they want to run their businesses independently. On the plus side, the [commission] of the sale that typically goes to the middle man now goes to them. There are a lot of new skill sets that need to be picked up, but the space has largely been very respectful, and I do believe that everybody feels this is a fresh breath of air.”

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Tune in to episode three on April 7, which will feature Andrew Choi, who will talk about Zipcy SuperNormal NFTs as well as what his work at Coinbase tells us about the future of cryptocurrency. Register here.

If you missed the episode, you can now watch it here.

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