What will digital possessions, architecture, and communities look like in the digital realm? How will brands position themselves within the metaverse?

Contemporary digital artist Krista Kim, a leader in technology as an artistic medium, has been shedding light on the meditative and transcendent experience of digital art since 2012. Founder of the Techism movement and deemed the "new digital Rothko" by Forbes, Krista believes that art is necessary and essential to the development of the digital realm, a philosophy she incorporated into her creation of the Mars House, the first NFT home.

We spoke with Krista about digital humanism, the future of virtual assets and how brands can engage in the metaverse.

Earlier this year, you created and sold the first digital home for $500,000: Mars House. Will we be seeing more high net worth virtual purpose purchases like this?

Yes. There was a space race in the sixties, and now there's a metaverse race into 2021, and people are really scurrying to build the new metaverse.

People will be buying digital homes, experiences, vacation, and fashion. I think that the large ticket items are definitely going to be more popular. We are basically going to be living a parallel extension of our reality in the metaverse, where NFTs will allow us to actually own digital space and populate our metaverse with beautiful homes and objects that are rare and collectible. My prediction is that real estate will become a digital twin concept where people will buy expensive property, but then also own a digital twin of their property and have a metaverse version of it.

What do the rise of these virtual goods and augmented reality lifestyles spell out for brands?

Brands have a very unique opportunity to engage with their communities in the metaverse, whether it's in virtual reality or in augmented reality. What I see brands turning into are communities: communities that revolve around products that people love or services or even an ethos. Brands are no longer just a logo that is highly marketed. It's now becoming more of a community that you bring into an immersive experience, both in the metaverse and in real life. Gamification, tokenization and immersive experiences, these are all new tools that I expect to see more than traditional marketing. It's about community building and branding through the experience that you offer to your community.

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Mars House

One of your recent projects was a collaboration with the Utah Jazz NBA team—the first sports team metaverse NFT project. What did that look like?

We created this NFT drop as a community building exercise and to strengthen the brand through community immersive experiences. We also want to create augmented reality at the games and gamify the experience.

Using the SuperWorld app, ticketholders at the live event will point their smartphones to the center of the arena where they'll see a beautiful NFT for sale, available only to the people who are present at the game. We're very happy to host the first meet and greet on the 15th and the owner of the Utah Jazz, Ryan Smith, is actually going to be present and meet and greet the fans. There are so many amazing ways that you can create value and community culture through NFTs.

As digital ownership continues to gain momentum and popularity, who do you anticipate will be the most prominent target consumer of digital art and these digital experiences?

Everyone will. The reason why is that the metaverse is going to be a place where people will go and make money. They will provide services, they will go there for education, they will go for medical services. The metaverse is going to be a place where people exchange and interact on a daily basis for their subsistence. Digital arts and digital assets will become central because it's going to be the place where people will protect their assets, protect their wealth, gain wealth and preserve wealth.

We're building a new world: new services, our own identity and our digital twin in the metaverse.

Everyone will participate and it's not only art: we have to really think outside the box. It's not only art assets that are being sold in the metaverse. It's wearable, interoperable assets, garments, and accessories that are created and animated and can be enjoyed with AR lenses. The creative possibilities are endless, and it's an incredible opportunity for creators to live their imagination. That’s what the metaverse is: the metaverse realized is the imagination realized.

Why, in your opinion, has digital art gained such momentum in recent years? What about digital ownership draws in viewers and consumers?

Well, I'm a real student of Marshall McLuhan: the medium is the message. Because digital media is our primary source of communication, it’s only natural that we start expressing art and what it means to be human through the digital language.

Art is an expression of the individual and their relationship to the world. And I think digital art as a medium of expression is the next technology and the next medium for art.

You've used the term “digital consciousness” to describe the experience of your work. Can you expand on that and define it in your own words for us?

Digital consciousness really is about instant communication. It's about global communication and networked communication. The definition of art, the functionality of art, the utility of art and the meaning of art is completely revolutionized because of digital consciousness.

As an artist, it's completely revolutionized the way that artists can interact with and build an audience. Referring to Marshall McLuhan once again: the medium is the message. A publishing house or an author who communicates to the people—that's a one-way communication. Digital is not one way: digital is peer to peer and it is a network effect, it is exponential.

The digital consciousness is about expanding the human consciousness from a binary two-way communication paradigm into the network, and now into the metaverse. It's about the scope of the reach of communication, which therefore expands the mind beyond the self, beyond their community, their immediate city, their immediate community and family into the world and beyond.

You've also used the term “digital humanism.” Can you define that for us as well?

I think that human connection is built through art. Artists are the bridge, artists create that human touch for a technology company, no matter what technology it is. I think that if technology companies don't have artists in the boardroom collaborating with engineers, collaborating with the entrepreneurs, then you're going to lose the humanity. I think that all of these tech companies have to realize that they are in the culture business, whether they like it or not, because their platforms are informing human behavior, and that creates culture because it's scaled by billions of people on earth. There should be an understanding between the platform and the people where the platform should benefit the people.

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Continuum installation at Aranya Beach, China. Courtesy of Output Gallery.

What is next for you?

My next project will basically be a reflection and a connection between the metaverse and the real world. I'm very interested in bringing the metaverse into the real world and keeping it anchored in the real world. I want an enhancement of real life in the metaverse. I don't think that Ready Player One is an ideal future for us: we should create a better world with the inspirational ideas that we share in the metaverse.

Regarding the Mars House, for example, I want to build a physical Mars House and I want to create a showcase of the future of hospitality and wellness. That's the next project I'm pursuing. I'm also creating the Continuum tour, which is a sound and light healing installation that's touring the world. I'm really interested in building and enhancing real life through augmented and virtual reality. I'll be doing a lot of projects with SuperWorld, for which I'm a global ambassador to create augmented reality healing experiences in your life as an enhancement.

Building worlds, that's the next thing: building the immersive experience of your consciousness. I think that whatever we create in a metaverse, whatever beauty, whatever inspiration, the metaverse can become real in the physical world.

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