Stephen Curry is moving shoulders on my kitchen counter. No one cares, not even the most devoted Curry fans. Every now and then a friend asks what it is is, this endless loop of Curry successfully making a midcourt bomb in a Golden State game against Dallas in February 2021. Then the shoulder moves. Some movement at the hips.
It’s a framed NFT, I say. An NFT video, indeed. There’s another frame next to it, a pulsing blue jellyfish that looks like a novelty item bought at Spencer Gifts circa 1994. It goes on a loop, like a GIF. This is not an NFT. Between these two acrylic frames is a third that scrolls through the digital images from my iPhone camera roll, just regular pictures.
What do we get when we buy NFT art, unique pieces of code that are certified by the exchange of non-fungible token coins? Do we own the art itself, or the certificate for that art, or both? I have a Steph Curry on my kitchen counter and I have no idea. I have posed the question and cannot guarantee a satisfactory answer; this is no different from the promises of NFT art. That hasn’t stopped hardware makers from taking advantage of the NFT trend, which is currently in decline. You might even call these gadgets token frames: sleek, sturdy chunks of atoms that sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, existing only to give you a way to display your new art.
“I think we have such a unique take on the approach to display technology and how display technology is really representative of a single blockchain-backed asset,” Joe Saavedra, founder and chief executive of ‘Infinite Objects, in February. Infinite Objects makes the frames I have on loan from the company: the ones that currently house the Curry wiggle and the trippy fish.
Saavedra acknowledged that other display makers are also getting on board with NFTs, such as Samsung, which announced earlier this year that certain models of its TVs would support blockchain technology. What’s different about Infinite Objects’ frames, Saavedra said, is that the company is scaling up videomaking it “something that is collectible, something that is valued and can be bought and sold.”
Unlike traditional photo frames, IO frames are immutable. (You could even call them non-fungible.) You can place an order for a frame with an NFT video or one with regular non-blockchain art, but either way, that’s the art you’re stuck with for always. And even if you go through the process of verifying ownership of your NFT before ordering the frame, Saveedra emphasized that the image you receive is not the NFT art itself. “It’s a physical twin of that asset on the blockchain,” he said. Saveedra actually owns the Steph Curry NFT, which I verified by scanning a QR code on the back of the frame. He bought it through NBA Top Shot, the league’s official marketplace for digital collectibles. Then put it in an IO frame. That’s a lot of work for a little art.
Infinite Objects frameworks aren’t cheap, but compared to other NFT frameworks, they are cheap. Most range from $79 to $450, depending on the size and quality of the frame and how an NFT is valued. The Steph Curry video print costs $199. The most expensive item on the IO site? A $600 video rendering, created by an artist collaboration called Keiken, of Elon Musk, Grimes and baby X Æ A-12. Musk inexplicably holds a knife. They are part human, part human Avatar, and they all have chips implanted in their skulls. “Her glass pregnancy wombs are both a vessel and a shiny veneer displaying a variety of different objects that represent the inner workings of her mind and transport the consciousness, feeling and belief of a space and time to another,” says the description of art. It seems to borrow a page straight from WeWork’s prospectus.
If that hasn’t blown you away, the offerings from other NFT frame manufacturers might be. A new hardware entity called Lago, backed in part by Master & Dynamics CEO Jonathan Levine, is selling a 33-inch screen for NFT for $4,500. For this type of cash, the display will “display NFT in the intended quality as the artist envisioned.” For an extra $500, you can pick up a $500 Lago Gesture Camera, which lets you flick your wrist on the NFT frame to cycle through the art you’re showing your confused friends. Prefer a bargain? A 32-inch Tokenframe NFT display, which connects to Wi-Fi and lets you cast your own NFTs on the display, costs just $999. Step up to a 55-inch Tokenframe and you’ll pay a very specific $2,777 (in Ethereum, of course).