Outland, an NFT (non-fungible token) platform launched by Los Angeles-based collectors Harry Hu and Jason Li in 2021 with a focus on testing and reviewing, will release its first purchase-ordered NFT this week. The new digital artwork, by renowned Chinese painter Fang Lijun, marks the site’s first foray into developing and selling NFT; until now, he had primarily focused on promoting a more scholarly dialogue around the emerging format through criticism and art history.
Christopher Y. Lew, former curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and May Xue, former director of educational and institutional relations at the K11 Art Foundation, work with artists to commission and develop NFT and digital art projects that will be offered on Outland.
“We have long, sometimes months-long dialogues with artists about what feels appropriate as NFTs and what feels appropriate for their own practice, and then also what expertise do we need to bring in, whether that’s ‘digital animators for Fang Lijun or, say, Web3 developers to build this team and help achieve what they envision,’ says Lew, Outland’s chief art director. “Each project is going to be different because the artist comes from a very different approach, so how we go about driving the drop and sales may differ depending on the project – we try to tailor everything to each artist’s specific project. .”
Fang’s inaugural commission is titled Elementary and will be available from February 20, with each of the 2,022 editions available for purchase with Ethereum and priced between ETH 0.2 and ETH 0.3 ($585 – $877). The works feature Fang’s distinctive male figures, many of them bald, rendered as if on a ceramic plate that floats and turns in an abstract space. Purchasers of a limited set of 22 unique NFT editions will also be able to claim a matching ceramic plate from the artist.
By working on Elementary, Fang says he was influenced less by the complexities of emerging blockchain-based technology than by the many options it presented. “I think there are too many exciting things this new technology can offer,” he says. “So I had to choose the most exciting aspects to work with because the possibilities are endless.”
The next Outland artist tasked with creating new NFT works will be Rachel Rose, the American sculptor, videographer and conceptual artist. Her project will be based on a series of iPad drawings she recently made that she previously sought to transfer into physical form.
“After I made these works, I printed them and hung them on the wall in my studio, and printed, they were now prints,” Rose explains. “But it didn’t feel right to me, but because I was drawing on the iPad and not on paper, I didn’t know how to keep them as originals, true to the form they were created in. As NFTs , they could exist as originals, in the material in which they were made.
In one article Outlining his vision for Outland’s NFT marketplace, Lew writes that sales will take various forms depending on the project, from auctions to timed sales. “Through our curated program of drops,” he writes, “we seek to work with some of the most exciting artists who approach NFTs with deep experimentation, challenging what we know from a technological standpoint, social and aesthetic.
The Outland market joins a crowded field of NFT trading platforms, several of which have quickly become behemoths – earlier this month one of the biggest, OpenSea, which launched in 2017, outmoded $20 billion in all-time sales. But most NFT markets have grown out of the burgeoning digital collectibles market, rather than attempting to crossover with the world of fine art. In addition to auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s selling NFTs, often at seven-figure prices, art gallery Pace has gained a foothold in the market with its NFT platform Pace Verso.
In addition to collaborating on Outland, Xue and Lew are working with Li and Hu on the new Los Angeles foundation and artist residency, Horizon.