NFT NYC, the leading conference for non-fungible tokens, kicked off on Monday in Times Square. To guide us through the madness, we asked the digital artist Olive Allen (@IamOliveAllen), who has attended every iteration since NFT.NYC’s inception in 2019, to chronicle a day in her life during the crypto carnival.
It has been almost five years since I attended my very first crypto conference. A lot has happened since. I’ve met thousands of people: VCs, developers, founders, artists, and grifters. I have lived through the bear market, created my own startup, lived in Silicon Valley, became one of the first so-called “NFT artists,” and had my first show at a traditional gallery. It definitely feels like I have lived several lifetimes—and now, everything is coming full circle and changes for myself and the industry are on the horizon yet again. But enough about the sentiments—let’s dive into my first day at NFT.NYC.
Set my alarm for 7 am Hit the “snooze” button and woke up at 8 am
I headed out to the creators preview of “Women in Web3: Her Dreams Realized”—a digital art show at One World Trade Center curated by Afrodet Zuri in collaboration with Westfield and the NFT platform Blockparty. The work of six amazing artists, myself included, was displayed on giant LED screens in the transport hub. What was interesting about the show is that the photos and short bios of each artist were also displayed on giant screens. The show will run simultaneously at Westfield shopping centers across the United States. Digital art is no doubt the medium of the future—it transcends space and is infinitely scalable.
I went to the Marriott Marquis in Times Square to pick up my NFT.NYC badge. I was greeted by a long line and a jazz band. There was a sea of people from all walks of life trying to make it in the NFT world. I ran into Anne Spalter, an amazing generative artist. I admire Anne for her amazing consistency and sticking to her beliefs.
Around 12:30 at the Marriott near the badge pick-up: saw a random guy shilling his “art.”
Went outside and the first thing I saw was this banner. Is the universe trying to tell me something? Is it finally the time to build something bigger than myself?
Almost got eaten by a voxel dragon at the Sandbox event. Survived.
Keith Grossman, president of TIME, announced his collaboration with the Sandbox game. Sandbox is a Web3 company that aims to build a decentralized metaverse where everyone can create their own game and monetize their content, land, etc. TIME Web3 initiatives are now focused on building an authentic community in the space and beyond.
Heading out to the National Arts Club for an exhibition I co-curated with [Pace Gallery media arts director] Raina Mehler for the new CADAF marketplace built on Tezos blockchain. The show featured pretty unique NFT pieces from well-known young traditional artists like Emma Stern and Canyon Castator; digital art legends like Addie Wagenknecht and Anne Spalter; as well as NFT natives like myself and Yulia Shur. These artists managed to capture the essence of our times and I know deep inside you’ll see them in all of the most important museums of the future.
At the show, I ran into a bunch of people, but wish I spent more time talking to my artist friends Austin Lee and Chloe Karayiannis. Truth is, artists are my favorite people. Pure souls. Well, at least most of them.
Went to the Apefest on the Pier 17 Rooftop with an Ape holder friend who flew all the way from Switzerland to attend the monkey festival. Saw Beeple. Sometimes it feels like he is there just so random bros can take a picture with him and post it on crypto Twitter to boost engagement. I didn’t feel like interrupting.
After about 15 minutes, I couldn’t help but wonder who was more bored: the inflatable Ape outside of the venue or myself. There were long lines for free alcohol and bored people who didn’t care much about the “art.” It was hard to tell what they cared about at that point.
Perhaps we all are quite lonely at the end of the day, want to “belong,” and are searching for meaningful connections… That’s what “community” is—a hope to find your tribe.
Questlove started performing. It was okay.
Yes, I needed this iconic shot. Ended up with an ugly editioned poster of a monkey. Life’s great.
Wasn’t feeling exceptionally creative and went to see [DJ] Steve Aoki at the Sandbox party at Gotham Hall. Everyone in crypto knows that the “community” would always flock to a party with a hyped performer. If they don’t, they’ll always FOMO. And right I was—saw several prominent collectors and tech entrepreneurs.
No idea why there were Playboy playmates there. Never seen one before. Thought they were canceled even before my time for promoting misogynistic body standards and fashion. Why do they still exist in 2022? Sandbox event organizers are very mindful of their audience—Gen Xers and older Millennials. That explains Playmates, Aoki, Snoop Dogg, and pixelated aesthetics. Nostalgia is the company’s vibe.
Went home relieved that I wasn’t born in the ’80s and that my generation didn’t grow up reading Playboy and generally does not embrace Bored Apes as compelling characters or see them as quality artwork. There is hope that the younger generation will end up making the world a better place after all. And we are. The future has only one direction and it is forward. See through the noise—we will have to evolve as a species to survive.
NFT is a technology that allows our transition into another realm by enabling the metaverse economy. Digital art powered by NFT tech is the future of art. Digital currency is the future of money. Humans merging with AI and becoming interplanetary species is crucial to our survival. The future is unavoidable. The only choice we really have is whether we make efforts to make it better than the world we know.
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