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Ape Stage Capitalism: Putting The Human Element Into NFTs

4156 Gallery

Last night something special happened. In what can only be described as a first of its kind, Accelerate Art in cooperation with Punk 4156 hosted a live gallery showing titled “Ape Stage Capitalism” in the CryptoVoxels virtual world.

No, virtual worlds are not a new thing. Nor are virtual galleries. Yet the combination of a Clubhouse showing with a virtual walk through felt both unique and intimate.

Claire Silver and Ben Roy hosted Punk 4156 to share his growing NFT collection. While Claire directed the 100 or so participants in Cryptovoxels toward a given piece, the original creators were called up to the Clubhouse stage to describe their work. It felt similar to a real world gallery showing.

At first glance, the NFT collection of Punk 4156 speaks to the excess that exists within the digital art world. For those attempting to write off the NFT movement, the collection represents an almost parody of the modern digital collector.

The event provided a different perspective. It had the human touch. The emotion and magnitude of the moment first came through early on in the evening.

For context, 4156 spent over $950,000 (420 ETH) to purchase the genesis Pepe The Frog meme this past weekend.

Then last night, as show attendees walked past an image of the NFT within the CryptoVoxels gallery, Matt Furie, the original creator of the now iconic and historic meme, came onto the Clubhouse stage to be interviewed by Ben and Claire.

XCopy Floor of 4156 Gallery

Up until that point, punk 4156 had communicated through Ben who was reading out his written comments. Spontaneously, 4156 began an open dialogue with Matt, to express what the process of bidding on this piece felt like.

He described how it began with his business partner. “We were bidding and of course it very quickly hit the ceiling and we decided we were done. He left the call and I moved to another tab. I just kept looking back to it. I had listened to your Clubhouse the night before and I think sometimes it takes making a bid or buying a piece before you can really under the gravity of what you’re doing. I think in that moment it hit me that this probably is the Mona Lisa of our time. This is the original of the most copied, most memed object in the history of the Internet and this is such an important object so I started bidding a lot more.”

They earlier determined that the other bidder only had 380 ETH in their wallet. 4156 decided to go for the win and bid an appropriately priced 420 ETH.

It was an emotional moment for the collector. It was also a snapshot of how the event played out over the course of two hours last night. One artist after the next came on stage to describe a piece Claire and Ben were simultaneously directing attendees toward in the virtual world.

CryptoVoxels is one of four key virtual worlds at the center of the NFT movement. What makes it particularly unique is the accessibility with which any internet user can simply hop and look around with a simple URL. For example, if you want to check out the gallery where the event occurred last night, just click on this link.

You can then navigate around the 3D universe where 4156’s collection is on display. You can also walk through neighboring buildings, some of which also have art on display.

As was the case last night, most “foot traffic” in CryptoVoxels and other comparable virtual worlds occur around the time of a live event. During off hours they appear as digital ghost towns, like a 3D version of the original Million Dollar Homepage. However with static 2 dimensional websites shared intimate moments are impossible to experience.

For the small group of people in attendance, last night’s Ape Stage Capitalism event was validation that the world of NFTs is not just a money-making craze but a movement. NFTs have provided a platform for connection, creation, and inspiration unchained of former limits and boundaries.

Thanks to patrons like 4156 and community organizers like Accelerate Art this new world is all possible.