The Future of Digital Art Is Now: From NFTs by a Meta-Human to a Human and AI Collaboration

The Future of Digital Art Is Now: From NFTs by a Meta-Human to a Human and AI Collaboration

For the second consecutive year, Sotheby’s partners with Digital Art Fair in Hong Kong bringing the freshest and most innovative digital art.
For the second consecutive year, Sotheby’s partners with Digital Art Fair in Hong Kong bringing the freshest and most innovative digital art.

B uilding upon the momentum of last year, Digital Art Fair, Hong Kong’s foremost Web3 fine art event, returns for its second edition and once again, Sotheby’s will be partnering up to bring the freshest creatives working at the convergence of art and technology. The specially curated online sale Xperience Digital Art Auction (20–27 October) offers 21 artworks by some of the most promising rising stars of the digital art world including Jacky Tsai, MonoC, Mankind and Henry Chu, alongside artists dipping their toes in for the first time such as renowned Hong Kong visual designer anothermountainman (Stanley Wong), and Sophia Hotung, the illustrator behind the much-loved The Hongkonger series. The auction will also include the NFT, Kowloon Walled City – Character Collage, presented by Index Game and featuring all the Kowloon Walled City characters presented in their The Sandbox metaverse experience. 

Index Game Limited, Kowloon Walled City – Character Collage . Estimate: 850,000 - 1,000,000 HKD
“Following an incredibly successful collaboration with Refik Anadol for the first auction with Digital Art Fair, our second instalment shifts the focus to Asian and Asia-inspired artists pushing the boundaries and redefining our preconceived notions of digital art. From Jacky Tsai and MonoC to an incredible curated selection by NFT Asia, this group really captures the exciting possibilities the future of digital art holds.”
Max Moore, Head of Contemporary Art Sales, Asia at Sotheby’s 

Titled Digital Art Fair Xperience Hong Kong 2022 (22 October – 6 November), the fair lineup includes more than 400 digital works of art sprawled across two floors spanning 20,000 square feet. It’s an experience that can be overwhelming for the senses, but there is a definite appeal that is obvious to the growing young generation of digital natives born into a Web2 world and an era where the swipe of a smartphone is second nature. 

Digital Art Fair. (Photo courtesy of Digital Art Fair)

The fair, and the 21 lots hand-picked for Xperience Digital Art Auction, is demonstrative of how far technology – and the artists who have dedicated themselves to it – have come in the space. While for some artists it’s still a new endeavour, for others it’s already been years of experimentations and fine tuning their craft, yet as technology rapidly advances, so too we see their art evolving further.

“NFTs and digital art have given artists many opportunities that they didn’t have before. Digital art is a medium, the artists are strong and I think they have a lot of potential. It has only just started.”
Gillian Howard, Digital Art Fair Founder and Global Fair Director

This year we see even more technology-pushing experiments and creative collaborations, suggesting that even as the crypto winter this year was compounded by a bear market, it was not enough to deter artists to continue pushing their creative limits in digital art. 

MonoC, Hortus Corona . Estimate: 100,000 - 200,000 HKD. Installation view at Digital Art Fair Xperience Hong Kong 2022 (Photo courtesy of Digital Art Fair)

Among noteworthy highlights is a new collection by MonoC (short for Monocromatic), meta-human and artist, the brainchild of Hong Kong-based Gusto Collective. Marking the first ever participation by a virtual human in Digital Art Fair, MonoC will be debuting a collection of six generative artworks titled Corona Florella, which seeks to record and reimagine the global battle against COVID-19 and celebrate the triumph of data-led science and human resilience. Data from seven continents inform four of the works, centred upon MonoC’s iconic floral motif, charting the evolution and global spread of the virus, the roll-out of immunisation and subsequent recovery as the world emerged on the other side. A fifth work brings together all four stages into one moving artistic statement. Meanwhile a sixth work departs from the floral motif entirely, presenting a video art piece utilising dance movements to invite dialogue about the physical and psychological toll brought on by the pandemic. Two of the works will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s. 

Jacky Tsai, digital artist of the year. (Photo courtesy of Digital Art Fair)

Awarded Digital Artist of the Year by Digital Art Fair, Jacky Tsai is recognised for his creative fusing of symbolic references from traditional eastern art with imagery from western pop art references. The London-based Chinese artist will have six lots auctioned by Sotheby’s, among them, MetaSkull, part of a new generation of his iconic floral skulls, and Athena and Buddha, a hologram sculpture where images of Athena and Guanyin are switched in real time according to the exchange rate of the Hong Kong dollar against Euro. Most ambitious of the projects is Jacky Tsai’s Golden Years, the artist’s first immersive room bringing together a decade of his work, created in collaboration with Hong Kong Film Award-winning director for visual effects Victor Wong, with a soundtrack supported by Jay Chou and Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. 

Jacky Tsai, Jacky Tsai’s Golden Years . Estimate: 3,000,000 - 5,000,000 HKD

A special human and AI collaboration between artist and illustrator Sophia Hotung and Sophia the Robot debuting at Digital Art Fair will also be part of the lots auctioned by Sotheby’s, in support of local non-government organisation The Women’s Foundation. “In Hong Kong, it’s difficult to be a female entrepreneur. I got in touch with The Women’s Foundation when they were launching Sophia the Robot with Hanson Robotics,” says Howard. Speaking highly of Girls Go Tech, a programme initiated by the Foundation that aims to introduce the possibilities of careers in technology to underprivileged junior secondary school girls, Howard believes in striving for inclusivity and support of one another. “Digital Art Fair originally started as a platform to give young artists a place to get their name out. So the initiative is really trying to raise funds for The Women’s Foundation, collaborating with them, bringing the work to Sotheby’s, and being part of what Digital Art Fair’s core mission is about.” 


While the crypto bear market has left many speculating on what the future holds for NFTs – and consequently, digital art, which has come to rely heavily on tokenisation – speaking to both ahead of the fair and auction, Digital Art Fair and Sotheby’s remain confident in the outlook for digital art. “I believe there is a lot of interest to acquire work in digital media and they are just getting started,” says Howard. “Every market has its ups and downs, like we see in the stock market and we have seen it many times in the crypto market. It’s a natural way for the market to be adjusting and correct its course.” 

Sharing similar sentiments, Moore says, “2021 brought to light a clear appetite and appreciation for digital art and collectibles. This bear market we are currently experiencing is actually a healthy correction and exactly what the NFT and digital art market needs in order to re-correct itself by refocusing the attention on worthwhile projects and shining the spotlight on new, creative artists.” Emphasising the importance of placing our attention back on the art and artists involved, he adds, “We at Sotheby’s are helping to lead this conversation through thoughtful curation and collaboration.”

Contemporary Art

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