CHAOS: A Collision of Things

CHAOS #14 Serendipity (sold for $44,100) CHAOS #13 Liminality (sold for $70,000) and CHAOS #12 Narrative (sold for 17.105 ETH, ~$57,929.50)

In CHAOS, contemporary art maverick Urs Fischer introduces his first series of completely digitally native sculptures centered upon “mesmerizing collisions” which bring into question not only our relationships to various materials and “things”, but also how these objects relate to each other and the human experience at its core.

NFTs and The Contemporary Art Market

What’s most exciting about us introducing NFTs to our collectors is the opportunity to widen our collectors’ understanding of the practices many of our digital artists have expanded upon for years. As forward thinkers, we understand the limitations the white cube has within this medium and note how the blockchain monumentally lifts those bounds. Let’s also not forget the expansive community we’re so eager for our collectors to learn about and immerse themselves within.

-Christiana Ine-Kimba Boyle, Online Sales Director at Pace Gallery

Despite an abundance of stupefying creations to dive into within the CHAOS series, one of the most significant collisions that CHAOS represents is that which has been ignited between a number of diverse art communities, emerging spaces and established institutions: A big bang moment which harmoniously embraces NFTs as the future of experiential art.

The CHAOS series has garnered the attention and support from all corners of the art world connecting renowned gallery spaces like Pace Gallery– one of the world’s leading contemporary art galleries, innovative auction apps like that of Fair Warning– the brain child of former Christie’s co-chairman/industry legend Loic Gouzer and MakersPlace – the premiere NFT platform and one of the space’s earliest enablers, under Fischer’s vision of evolving art and objects.

It is great to see entities such as Fair Warning, MakersPlace, and Pace coalescing around great artistic initiatives. Hopefully this type of effort, in the service of great art, will become a blueprint for artists who are reaching across all spectrums of the art world.

– Loic Gouzer, Founder of Fair Warning and former Co-Chairman at Christie’s

The year 2021 has served as an inflection point for the NFT art movement with ground-breaking sales within the space grabbing the attention of the art world at large, most notably the 69.3 million dollar sale of digital artist Beeple’s The First 5000 Days- a collaborative effort between MakersPlace and Christie’s which marked the third highest artwork sale of any living artist and highest digital artwork sale of all time.

For the first time ever, NFTs infiltrated mainstream art conversations and flocks of curious collectors dived into the movement eager to learn and experience what this new art for is all about. Since its inception in 2018, the NFT, or crypto art market, has seen over $592,224,208 (329,608.575 ETH) in global sales, with the bulk of sales happening in 2021 and 64 million dollars in sales taking place in April 2021 alone. While this represents a small fraction of the billion dollar global art market, the immense growth within this space that has occurred just in the past few months reminds us that we are merely scratching the surface and sends a promising signal of what is to come in the NFT art space.

CHAOS in The Art World

Urs Fischer, CHAOS #21 Bucolic (2021). Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery.

Artists like Urs Fischer, Lucas Samaras, and Glenn Kaino have devoted their careers to pioneering new approaches within their respective practices, and to revisioning what their institutional relationships look like. As supporters and stewards of their ideas and legacy, we must assess what the next steps are and provide the tools needed for success. Our strategic venture into the digital is our way of doing just that.

-Christiana Ine-Kimba Boyle, Online Sales Director at Pace Gallery

CHAOS is a series consisting of 1000 objects, paired together to form 500 creations, each one its own visual conversation. These works are composed of arbitrary representations of cultural artifacts, historical symbolism, anecdotes and phenomenons – each with a unique story to tell. An exploration of human nature, and our need for a variety of tools, the artworks are centered around manmade objects and the roles they’ve played throughout our cultural history.

These artworks highlight the interplay between objects and their deeper meanings to human beings – some obvious, some humorous and some painstakingly contemplative. In CHAOS, Urs Fischer deep dives into these themes, exploring the various stories these objects have to tell, reshaping our perception of our world and role within it in the process. Like the artworks in CHAOS, these artworks highlight the depth of human desire, stories and needs.

Starting with the debut of the series on Fair Warning, a fine art focused app and digital sales platform founded by Loic Gouzer, the very first CHAOS artwork led the way. What came as a shock to some, the edition #1 CHAOS sold for $97,700.

CHAOS #1 Human sold for auction at Fair Warning for $97.5K

From there, seemingly nothing could stop CHAOS as editions 2,3,4 and many more sold on MakersPlace for well into the 5 and 6 figure ranges.

Also fueling the fire was Gouzer’s reputation to curate and sell extremely sought after works of art. One of the most notable being Salvator Mundi by da Vinci, selling at auction for $450 million: the highest price ever paid for a piece of art.

So far, the CHAOS series has reached total sales volumes of over $1,000,000 USD including edition #1 and a few others that broke the 6-figure mark for a single digital sculpture.

Coming to Pace this week is the exciting continuation of Fischer’s series, combining objects more unique to each other than ever before! Broccoli collides with a kitchen sponge, a running shoe combines with a shower head, and so on. CHAOS # 20 through CHAOS # 25

Urs Fischer, still of CHAOS #22 Simulacrum (2021). Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery.
Urs Fischer, still of CHAOS #24 Analysand (2021). Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery.

Urs Fischer

For Urs Fischer, the seemingly mundane and often ephemeral objects that appear throughout his extensive body of work represent the data of human existence. More so than human feelings or emotions, he believes these tangible shadows of life form our understanding of the world around us.

– Loic Gouzer, Founder of Fair Warning and former Co-Chairman at Christie’s

Urs Fischer, born in Switzerland and based in New York City, is widely regarded as one of the leading forces of the contemporary art movement today. His work, which includes sculpture, photography and large scale installations, acts as a “collision” of things”, carefully orchestrating a delicate, often humor-infused, dance between everyday objects and their relationships to human existence throughout history. Through these interactions, Fischer reminds us of the contradiction, complexity and impermanence of simply being. A Duchampion take on representationalism, Fischer’s artwork explores material and their impact. It is disruptive at its core, combining forces, compounding flow and creating dialogue amongst both his subject matter and audience.

Fischer has been creating in various forms since he was a teenager. He recalls the moment he fell in love with art in a London museum, where he made the realization that artwork was one of the only things in the world which allows each individual that interacts with it to take something away while remaining completely unaltered. He’s been experimenting with different mediums and art forms his entire life, with emerging technology playing a central role in his ever evolving creation process.

Fischer has been exhibited extensively across the globe, with leading galleries, including Gagosian; Sadie Coles HQ, London; Massimo de Carlo, Milan; The Modern Institute, Glasgow; Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin and Jeffrey Deitch, New York and Los Angeles. Solo exhibitions at major museums include Palazzo Grassi, Venice; Kunsthalle Vienna; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Garage Museum, Moscow; Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, Arles; Legion of Honor, San Francisco; Aïshti Foundation, Beirut. Fischer has public installation and works in major private collections around the world. Fischer’s playful Untitled (Lamp/Bear) sculpture has become a landmark outright at Hamad International Airport, Doha.

His artworks have been sold at auction for millions at renowned auction houses such as Christie’s.

What is an NFT? 

I don’t understand the NFT art market but I believe that artworks of purely digital nature are inevitable and they need to be validated, one way or another. How we engage with these works will be a dynamic shift, not unlike other mediums that made transformation into the digital realm, be it music, movies or our correspondence. It is continually defined by the available technology and the artists making use of it. 

The NFT sphere is a way to expand what we already do. Most artist make use of a computer at some stage in their process, it’s just not understood as an independent medium but more like a tool. The question that comes up is how one gets something out of the computer and turn a work into a thing in the physical world. Our past experiences of how we define an artwork, the collective history we base that on, is shifting. By now we engage with most works through a screen. We never see them in person. I understand the digital medium as an expansion, not a replacement.

Shifting part of my process to working in the digital medium brought me to collaborate with very talented people and that is always a joy. Each of them contributing a part, having their own backstory how they got engaged in working with 3D software. The programs available to work with images and in 3D have provided so many possibilities. There is not a single path to get to a result. The way they get used is ultimately personal.

– Urs Fischer

An NFT is a collectible asset, in a purely digital form. As is very much the case with physical artworks and collectibles, the defining value propositions of NFTs boil down to ownership, experience and passion. Like their physical counterparts, digital collectibles are in high demand yet hard to come by. They are unique in nature, with provable scarcity and intense desirability. Their value is defined by originality, rareness and impact. 

In digital arts’ case, an NFT is a digital token which contains not only the artwork itself, but all important details of provenance and authenticity associated with it. 

NFTs are:

  1. Completely unique – No two NFTs are the same
  2. Indivisible – Partial ownership of an NFT is not possible
  3. Unchangeable – The information on an NFT is permanent and indelible 

These three factors make NFTs a crucial means of establishing and verifying the scarcity of a digital asset such as artwork. 

Artworks in NFT form contain the digital artwork file, signature of the artist, creation time, and all subsequent transactions related to the artwork, or NFT. This identifiable information can be found in the smart contract of an NFT.

NFTs exist on and are authenticated via a “blockchain”, which is a publicly accessible online database not owned by any central authority, where nothing can be altered. Blockchain technology provides the mechanism for which NFTs are authenticated by digitally attaching a permanent signature and established provenance to a digital artwork. 

Most NFTs operate on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain network and are technically referred to as ERC-721 tokens, though many other NFT token types exist. 

New Possibilities For NFTs

NFTs provide an entirely new way to interact with art, transforming screens into canvases and breathing life and motion into what once had no option for mobility. It has opened the doors for digital creativity to thrive. Once collectors add an NFT to their collection, the possibilities for what can be done with it are essentially endless.

Below are some of the basics of what can physically be done with any NFT, we expect this list to expand greatly as time goes on.

  1. Enjoy it in person – You can display your NFT artwork in your space or in a pubic viewing area using a digital frame like Canvia or a monitor.
  2. Display it online – There are also a number of virtual options available for displaying your artworks, such as virtual galleries, exhibitions and events that exist online. 
  3. Sell it for a profit – Much like physical art, digital art is often viewed as an investment and artworks can be resold for a profit on the secondary market
  4. Long term investment – The relatively novel digital art market is growing at rapid pace meaning impressive returns for those who hold their pieces and sell in the future
  5. Buy to love – The overarching reason to invest in an artwork, physical or digital, is connection and fascination. Let your eyes and heart guide you.

As the NFT space continues to evolve, it is clear that the way we once interacted with artworks and artists will evolve alongside – introducing a more personal, immersive and dynamic interaction and experience of works within the emerging movement.

Fair Warning and Pace are very open to seeing where we can go and they have been great partners. Ultimately, synergy is the key to anything. That does not change in a virtual world. 

There are lot of unknowns, always have been, and the conversations around the NFT and art are often driven by opinions. So I do appreciate their curiosity very much. 

MakersPlace’s experience with NFTs is a big help and they did a great job. I learned a lot by working with a platform that is open to many understandings of what art can be. That is the beauty of the NFT space. The gatekeeping that takes place in contemporary art is limiting. The context became the new content. What I personally love about art is that the context is dynamic, art becomes in the eye of the beholder. It takes on many shapes and forms as it can transcend time. Its power lays in how it can engage at any given moment. And that is, ultimately, a personal experience.

– Urs Fischer

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