Exploring How We Translate Physical Art Into The Metaverse

We chat with multidisciplinary artist Suzannah Pettigrew on how female artists are using the Metaverse to change the dialogue on gender equality

By Bella Cary

9 September 2022

t’s reported that less than 5% of Crypto Entrepreneurs are women, a worryingly low statistic that demonstrates once more that we are very much still a minority in tech. However, does the rise of Web3, NFT’s and DAO’s, present a possibility for change and empowerment?

Last week at The Stack World, we launched an exclusive NFT Citizen Card for our Premium Members, a very exciting development courtesy of The Stack DAO, as we work on identifying, challenging and rebuilding systems that prevent women achieving financial equity.

Ever curious and always aiming to support women making moves, we wanted to celebrate another Female Artist who recently released her very first NFT. Suzannah Pettigrew is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice explores the collective / singular exchange between online / offline realities in post-human society, along with our dependent relationship with tech. She seemed like the perfect person to give us the lowdown on the opportunities NFTs present for both Artists and Women in the ever evolving Web3 landscape.

You can view her NFT here

1.) When did you first hear about NFTs and what was your immediate reaction?

To be totally honest, I don’t remember when I heard about NFT’s for the first time. From late 2020 there was a lot more information available and case studies in the wider public domain of artists releasing NFT’s. My art practice has always explored the collective / singular experience and exchange between online / offline realities in post-human society, examining our socio-dependant relationship with technology and our evolution with it, so naturally I’m engaged with how NFT’s will innovate and shift the landscape of digital art.

2.) What did you wish you had known before you entered this space?

When entering any new space there’s a lot to learn, participating and being active is often the best way to connect.

I viewed creating an NFT as an experiment / research and development, like with any project or body of work.

I’m very fortunate to have some great mentors in this space, my good friend Trevor McFedries (co-founder of online community FWB and AI focused media company Brud) was instrumental in introducing me to the NFT space. We’ve know each other for 10+ years and had previously worked together in the early days of Lil Miquela. Trevor is familiar with my art practice and was able to point me in the direction of some great artists creating NFT’s and communities online that gave me insight, I also asked him a lot of questions! The main public source of information is primarily on Twitter and Discord. LACMA has an interesting thread of articles about NFT’s with interviews that I found insightful.

3.) Can you talk to me about your first NFT?

NFT 001 is a digital scan of a 35mm film photograph of performance props I shot at ‘Care Stranding’ a RPG (role playing game) performance in Berlin, Germany in 2018. I was invited to participate by artist collective Keiken and it was part Vorspiel, transmediale and CTM festival’s annual pre-festival program. My performance included a soundscape, once the NFT is bought this is unlocked through a downloadable link. It was important that I choose an artwork that explored and embodied digital space in its intention and conception. More about the performance here

I find it exciting that when setting up the NFT you can choose to unlock additional media and/or communication with the buyer to create further connection to my art practice for a layered exchange. Some artists might include a physical print, preview to upcoming sales, studio visit etc, it’s quite open and I find this really interesting to re-configure the creative approach and process.

4.) Can you talk to me a little bit about the process of creating that NFT?

First things first, you need to set up a crypto wallet, I went with meta mask and this is what I connected to my NFT on the Rarible platform. I sold my NFT through crypto currency ETH but I explored TEZOZ as well. I had the support of Sunil Singhvi (CBDO at Rarible) who was able to answer some direct questions and introduced me to the Rarible team (s/o Steve and Christian) who supported the minting of my NFT. Even without this direct support Rarible is easy to navigate, anyone can join (some NFT sites are invite only) and you get sales money through instantly.

My focus in the NFT space is to experiment with how and what elements of physical works and practices translate to digital art spaces.

For example, when I create a physical print edition I always keep the first of the edition for my archive, a function that is not currently available in the NFT space. Regardless I created an edition of 20 but I only minted 19 for sale. In the current functionality this print doesn’t exist, it’s a conceptual archive that might forever exist nowhere in the ether but this as an idea is more valuable to me than selling the remaining edition. It allows me to interrogate the framework of NFT spaces and what is possible in this digital exchange.

There are negative environmental factors that have been widely written about, I did my research and went with the options that felt considerate to this without deterring me from minting an NFT.

5.) What opportunities do NFTs represent for artists?

I was very fortunate that my first NFT sold out in less than 30 seconds. An anonymous collector who had been following my work for a while reached out and we spoke about how I would be releasing an NFT, I sent them the link when I had minted the artwork and they bought the full edition. It creates opportunities for collectors to directly engage with your work in their chosen market and also the artists gets 10% (the % is chosen by the artist) of the resales.

I am a multidisciplinary artist, the work I make tends to be video, performance, installation, photography and text so initially I felt that my work would not be placed in NFT market. I don’t necessarily align with the aesthetic of the majority of NFT’s or the NFT’s that have gained the most traction, I am interested in seeing how contemporary art exists on NFT platforms rather than 2-D graphic works made for NFT platforms.

6.) Why is it important to engage with NFTs?

Both art and technology are historically male dominated, as always it’s important for women to engage in these spaces.

I’m intrigued by the dialogue between digital and physical art works and where new frameworks can be formed in Web3 created by intersectional communities, not led by dominant white, heterosexual, male individuals.

The Short Stack

Interview with Suzannah Pettigrew about her first NFT.

By Bella Cary

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