The digital art marketplace APENFT Foundation has announced its second open call for submissions for its $100 million Art Dream Fund. The contest will select 14 winners, who will share cash prizes totaling more than $100,000 across four award categories and have their works displayed in online and offline exhibitions, art fairs, and auctions internationally. Winners will also be connected with opportunities to participate in workshops and artist residencies, collaborate with renowned brands, and benefit from crossover marketing. Registration is open through October 30, 2022.
With the theme of “Post-human Age,” the call invites creators of any age or nationality to submit works that “explore the relationship between life and nonlife in the future, revisit the positioning of human beings, and respond to the coming era increasingly characterized by pluralism and sophistication.”
Digital artworks submitted by both individuals and teams will be accepted in the forms of media art, including video, animation, and sound art; software, data-driven, and AI art; and interactive art, especially virtual-reality and augmented-reality–based works, among many other forms.
“The most essential qualities that distinguish us from other calls are our core values, great inclusivity, and openness, which are also the values that govern the world of NFTs,” said Sydney Xiong, director and curator of the APENFT Foundation and secretary general of the Art Dream Fund. “We’ve always been committed to nurturing and supporting young artists and creators who are open-minded, daring, imaginative, and able to inject fresh vitality into the art sphere.”
That commitment extends beyond mere financial resources. The foundation pledges to support winners with mentorships in marketing, communications, copyright protection, and legal affairs, signifying an investment in the professional development of talented digital creators as they advance in a cutting-edge and rapidly evolving domain.
The 2022 contest builds upon the success of the Art Dream Fund’s inaugural call in late 2021. The 2021 grand prize winner, selected from more than 500 submissions, was a piece titled Infinite Falling (2021), by WMD Studios. Entries were judged by a panel of NFT experts, including Xiong and Justin Sun, founder of TRON, an open-source blockchain operating system that hosts APENFT and jointly established the Art Dream Fund.
More than just an opportunity to mobilize its resources for championing forward-thinking artists in the NFT space, the 2022 Art Dream Fund marks a milestone for APENFT as it continues to cement its credibility as a major player in both the global art scene and the crypto community.
APENFT was founded in 2021, with the mission of creating a space for world-class artworks on blockchain by registering both physical and digital works as NFTs. The foundation’s collection, valued at over $150 million, includes physical artworks by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Alberto Giacometti, alongside works by pioneering crypto artists like Beeple, Pak, FEWOCiOUS, and Mitchell F. Chan, making APENET the first foundation in the world whose holdings encompass both physical and digital NFT artworks.
APENFT’s marketplace and foundation are now divided into two units, with the foundation focusing on not-for-profit initiatives. Its aim is to use its robust resources as well as its platform as a premier tech-driven art foundation to build a bridge between the traditional art field and the crypto space, thereby elevating the profile of burgeoning NFT artists and their contributions to the medium.
While NFTs are still in their relative infancy, they have already had a seismic impact on the way art is cataloged, valued, and disseminated. The practice of registering physical artworks as NFTs has become an increasingly attractive mode of authenticating ownership, as the unchangeable nature of blockchain technology makes such data impervious to theft or forgery.
This benefits not just collectors, but also creators, as it provides a means for artists to collect royalties on a sale each time a work changes hands. What’s more, the surge of interest in the NFT space from backers of all stripes has also spurred a tidal wave of aesthetic innovation as creators from diverse backgrounds seek to carve creative niches within the crypto space. This influx of talent has introduced novel approaches to overcoming the limitations and exploring the formal uses of the digital medium.
That innovation isn’t confined to the works themselves. NFT artworks have been exhibited in navigable digital galleries in the metaverse that simulate real-world places (think Alaska’s Matanuska Glacier) or are embedded into open-world video games, like Minecraft. Presenting works in this context also invites new modes of engagement between art and viewer, and blurs the lines between fine art and other creative disciplines, including game design.
This is a key feature of the 2022 Art Dream Fund’s open call. Winners will have the opportunity to have their works displayed in The Sandbox, a metaverse game currently in development by APENFT and TRON, which will further democratize the user experience by enabling individuals to not only view but also interact with these and other works.
Interactivity is a salient aspect as well. APENFT has also partnered with AsyncArt, a platform that provides tools to help creators—even those without a coding background—produce visual/audio-interactive NFT artworks; together they will present the Async Visual-Audio Award, which recognizes experimentation and innovation in interactive art, at the 2022 contest.
Says Async Art founder and CEO Conlan Rios, “Through the Async Visual-Audio Award, we invite artists to join us to turn the existing concept of art on its head and pave the way for a whole new category of programmable media. This is just the start, but we believe these simple building blocks will open up a world of possibilities for the creators out there, and we are really excited to see the genius ways people might use it.”
Even as APENFT and the Art Dream Fund continue to pave the way for technological and artistic innovation, they keep one foot firmly planted in the realm of physical art. During the open call period, APENFT will host forums to invite discourse around the NFT’s place in the fine art landscape; principles of NFT sponsorship and collection; and the influence of the metaverse on art creation.
Buy-in from the traditional art world for the Art Dream Fund is evident. The 2022 judging panel is made up of a broad spectrum of experts, from veteran collectors and curators to crypto moguls, such as Rios; Philip Tinari, director of UCCA Center for Contemporary Art; Jonathan Crockett, chairman of Asia at Phillips; art advisor Josh Baer; and collector Sylvain Levy. The nomination and selection panel includes contemporary artist Cheng Ran; Laura Shao, director of international development for the Hive Center for Contemporary Art; art writer Kenny Schachter; Ciara Sun, cofounder of C² Ventures; Claire Huang, Async art advisor and columnist; and Mimi Nguyen, lecturer at the University of the Arts, London.
“In a crowded marketplace, there is never a shortage of talent,” says Baer, “but often the support needed to ensure the artists of today and tomorrow just isn’t there. That is why I’m excited to be part of this initiative. Along with my esteemed arts colleagues, we have a chance to make a significant impact on the careers of the next crop of young great artists, so they’re empowered to do what they do best—make art—and get a foothold into the global art market.”
For registration details on APENFT’s 2022 Open Call, visit artdreamfund.apenft.io.