For much of 2021 and 2022, as the craze of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) was raging, I simply dismissed it as being nothing more than a speculative investment. News of an NFT JPEG resembling a rock being sold for over USD $608,000 reaffirmed my conviction on NFTs that I didn’t give a second thought to looking into it.
Hence, the Metajam Asia 2022 event seemed like an interesting proposition to me as it claimed to be Singapore’s first digital art and experiential festival. Organised by INVADE, Kult, and Chain Debrief, the three-month long event would showcase over 10,000 NFTs, including a 3-day summit in July and a 2-day GameFi Asia.
I attended the event, though somewhat unconvinced and sceptical about NFTs, to find out what the hype was all about.
Learning About What NFTs Are
Zone 1: Funda-Metas
The exhibition is divided into seven different zones, each providing visitors with a unique experience. The first zone that I was ushered into was called Funda-Metas.
This zone was dedicated to educating visitors about the NFT-space. It was filled with informational nuggets and a video explanation of what NFTs are and their history.
As someone who was new to NFTs, my learning was particularly enhanced by the experiential corner in the room. It allowed me to inspect, through the use of special glasses, the difference between a regular JPEG image and an NFT image. I learnt that NFTs have digital codes of 1s and 0s, which regular JPEG images don’t. This is why NFTs are considered to carry a unique digital identity that you cannot simply copy and paste and claim ownership of.
Zone 2: Meta of Facts
Having learnt a few things, I moved on to the next zone, which was called Meta of Facts. It is a continuation of being fed more information on NFTs.
There were lightboxes along the hallway, which “lights up” with information whenever I pressed on the switches. One of the things I learnt was about an NFT project, GLVT by Gorilla, that can be minted at the event. It mentioned that Gorilla was the first to transform Telco services and products into NFTs on the web 3.0, allowing users to be connected in real life. I definitely took some notes while I was in this room.
The organisers did share with me that the information on these lightboxes would change every week or two. This means, depending on when you are going, you may not see the same information as past visitors. This is done as an incentive for those who purchased season passes to visit the exhibition every week to learn new information.
3-Step Process To Create An NFT
Zone 3: Token Jam
After absorbing as much information as I could, I passed through a neon-lit hallway to get to the next zone.
Though I was greeted by more information on LED panels, it was the friendly smile of a staff member stationed at the zone that got my attention.
She told me to take out the worksheet that was given to visitors of the exhibition. She shared that in this zone, we get to create our own NFT. I eagerly got on with creating my artwork based on my dream personification (ie: punk rocker).
For those who are unaware, there are three stages to creating an NFT. The first stage is to design your artwork. This is where you have a base body of artwork and can choose between a variety of sticker-based features to complete the artwork. For my artwork, I picked a few stickers from the selection that was available to give my best attempt at a punk rocker.
The second step of creating an NFT is to determine the price of the NFT, the editions (ie: no of NFTs that will be available) and the royalties that will be linked to the artwork (ie: due to the creator). I also got to play around with a few stamps to fill in these three details. For some reason, I felt very modest and priced my artwork “reasonably”, but you can go crazy with yours.
The third step is basically listing your NFT. You can place your artwork on the board, like what I have done, and snap a photo to share with your circle of family and friends. By the way, I am looking for buyers for mine, if anyone is interested!
I found this old-school way of learning how NFTs are created to be fun and engaging as it left an impression on me. With a proud smile on my face, I moved to the next zone.
NFTs That Are More Than Just Digital Art
Zone 4: Jam Session
This zone was called the Jam Session, and suffice to say, I was blown away by the experience.
At the Jam Session, you get to explore the lengths and breaths of NFT applications, as the event showcases how different industries have integrated NFTs into their craft, from music, games, clothing, and animations.
One NFT exhibit that got my attention was Tezarekt. It is a gamified NFT marketplace that incorporates arcade, puzzle, and gachapon narratives. I got to experience creating a new NFT by mixing the tunes of four different world-class beatboxers at the booth. All visitors get one complimentary try.
Another exhibit showcased how NFTs can also be used as digital fingerprints on paintings and bottles. Without the use of the UV torch, the painting looks like any other regular painting. However, when I used the UV touch, I was able to see the digital mark that allows it to be uniquely identified.
You can even enjoy band performances over the metaverse by having the NFT of the musician. I was told in the future we could even be able to earn tokens (issued by the NFT creator) as we engage in certain activities during the live concert. These ideas are still at the concept stage, and it may take some time to see them become mainstream.
Visitors may spend a large amount of time exploring in this zone as there are plenty of other exhibits showing different use cases for NFTs.
Some of the other applications that visitors can experience are furniture by Commune and Samsung. There was even a display of clothing by MIRL’s Meta Mappa that feature art illuminated on crafted outerwear.
With over 10,000 NFTs from a curated list of local artists, including Mr Kiasu, there’s certainly much to see and experience.
Feeling a little overwhelmed by the visual treats, I climbed up a flight of stairs to head to the next zone of the exhibition.
Zone 5: The Metasphere
This zone was called the Metasphere, and we are told that we could get an Augmented Reality (AR) experience like no other.
The first thing I saw was a huge screen that shadowed my movements in a pixelated form, which could represent how it’s the smallest item of information in an image. The exhibits in this zone allow one to become a part of it by interacting with the NFTs through in-person activities.
One exhibit allowed me to stand in front of the screen and see my moves being imitated by the on-screen dancing ape. Another exhibit allowed me to upload my drawing onto an interactive screen that displayed my mini-artwork on a buzzing spaceship. I was told that my mini-artwork would be buzzing in space for the whole day. I only wished the artwork was displayed slightly bigger so that I could have written a meaningful message. But it was still interesting to see how the artwork was immediately projected onto the screen with just a quick scan.
Zone 6: RAD Jam
After playing interacting for a little while, I moved to the sixth zone, named the Rad Jam. I was told there will be exclusive workshops and talks hosted in this zone where visitors can gain insights from other NFT community members. Sadly, there was none when I was there, and perhaps this gives me a good reason to head down again.
Zone 7: Meta of time: Pitstop
Finally, I reached the last zone of the exhibition, called the Meta of Time.
Visitors can view and purchase from a collection of curated NFTs. There is also a merchanise shop operated by Pestle & Mortar Clothing (PMC) selling exclusive NFT artwork t-shirts. I was told that their tiger achives collection was well received by the NFT community.
Visitors can also bring their own NFT artwork to get printed onto a t-shirt in under 30 minutes, depending on the crowd level.
The whole Metajam Asia 2022 experience was an eye-opener for me. Someone who was completely clueless about NFTs prior to my visit. I learned there is more to NFTs than just being speculative investments as display artwork; they have real-life applications as well.
Events like Metajam Asia are a good way to learn and get exposed to NFTs, which are still at a nascent stage. If you are interested in knowing more about the event, you can visit their website, Metajam Asia.
The details of the event are as follows:
Event: MetaJam Asia 2022
Date: 6 May 2022 to 30 July 2022
Visiting Hour: Friday to Sunday, 12pm to 10pm
Location: Tekka Place, 2 Serangoon Road (Annex Building, Experience Centre)
Tickets: $18 per day pass and $45 per season pass
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