A look back at NFT.NYC 2022 – in all its strange, colorful glory
Despite a recent plunge in the crypto market, thousands gathered in New York City earlier this week for the fourth annual NFT.NYC. The event’s location (centered in the heart of Manhattan) and its timing (the same week as Cannes Lions) both arguably reflect the increasingly mainstream status of web3.
The fourth annual NFT.NYC took place earlier this week, coinciding with Cannes Lions / Adobe Stock
It’s been a big week for web3. While throngs of marketers descended on the beaches and red carpets of Cannes, thousands of digital creators, brand executives and rising stars from the tech world gathered in the dirty streets and elegant party venues of New York City for NFT.NYC.
Not so long ago, most marketers brushed off NFTs as comically fringe, and probably destined for a short lifespan. But NFT sales skyrocketed during the pandemic, and now a number of eminent public figures and brands have begun to invest in them. This most recent NFT.NYC, which ran from June 20-23, reflected not only the enormous diversity and variety of NFTs that have come into existence since they hit the radar of mainstream culture, but also the vibrant enthusiasm for the future that much of the web3 community seems to feel – despite the fact that the crypto market has recently come on hard times.
Coinbase – one of the leading crypto exchange companies – has called NFT.NYC “the Super Bowl of NFTs.” That analogy certainly captures the energy of the event, which seems to have been attracting web3 creators and entrepreneurs to a degree that’s comparable, if not in numbers then at least perhaps in spirit, to the magnetic pull of the NFL’s big game for football fans across the country.
But the Super Bowl – aside from the occasional surprise, such as the Yuri Andrade incident or the Janet Jackson Halftime Show moment – is conventional; it takes place on a giant grid, and the movements of the game as a whole follow specific patterns and rules. NFT.NYC – which takes place in the churning, frenetic maelstrom of energy that is New York City – seems to be the antithesis of convention. Its organizers and attendees don’t gather to celebrate the old regime of marketing, art, economics, technology and social organization. They gather to shake things up, to change the rules, to usher in a new era of decentralization. (And the fact that the event was held during the same week as Cannes Lions – the epitome of the old guard of marketing – does not feel unintentional).
A New York Times story this week quoted a NFT enthusiast comparing NFT.NYC to Woodstock, the famed 1969 music festival that in many ways has come to symbolize the youth counterculture movement that began earlier that decade. This analogy feels much more apt. Whereas football games are organized and regimented, Woodstock was about blurring the boundaries of tradition and experimenting with radical new perspectives: out with the old, in with the new.
To give you a sense of the event’s flair and colorful variety, here are just a few highlights from the most recent NYC.NFT:
So, so many digital billboards advertising NFTs. A leisurely stroll through Times Square earlier this week supplied strong evidence that NFTs have made it to the front page of American culture. One couldn’t walk more than a hundred paces before looking up and seeing an ad for an NFT project or a blockchain company. Web3 is officially in the cultural spotlight – at least for now.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) hosted the second annual ApeFest. BAYC, one of the most successful NFT projects in the game, took over Chelsea Piers in Manhattan for ApeFest, an exclusive, four-day event that first kicked off last year. A handful of celebrities – including Amy Schumer, Lil Baby, Future and Timbaland – made appearances.
An NFT company displayed a collection of invaluable swords. The Knights Who Say Nah, a brand that describes itself as “a group of ancient warriors spanning space and time who have come together to help humanity remember their forgotten cultures,” had an exquisite collection of very real swords on display at Manhattan’s Explorers Club. The collection – which was displayed in an effort to promote an upcoming NFT launch – included “an authentic Viking Ulfbrecht sword” and “a Dredien Rapier dating back as early as 1570 from the Holy Roman Emperor.”
A launch party was hosted for the “first-ever decentralized music festival.” The festival, organized by the minds behind Bonnaroo and Outside Lands in collaboration with “a music-obsessed web3 community,” is slated to kick off next summer.
NFT “statues” were placed around the city. An NFT company called The Littles placed larger-than-life replicas of its ‘Jojo Bear’ design throughout the city. The eight-foot statues, according to the brand, were intended to promote the company while “[bringing] web3 awareness to the masses.”