We explored the virtual realm of ImpactNFT and their curated art in Hong Kong’s first NFT exhibition.
The virtual worlds of metaverses seem to be all the rage recently. While there are decentralised metaverses like Decentraland and The Sandbox, I never had the chance to explore one. That is, until I attended the ImpactNFT exhibition virtually last week.
To show how non-fungible tokens (NFT) can go hand in hand with support social and global causes, the ImpactNFT Alliance launched its first NFT exhibition last Friday at the Soho House Hong Kong to showcase art-based NFTs from different social causes.
Stepping Into The ImpactNFT Metaverse
While Hong Kong-based invitees were checking into the Soho House, I was also busy checking in – into the metaverse that is. The ImpactNFT Alliance had hosted its offline exhibition simultaneously with its online event on The Nemesis metaverse, a unique virtual space developed by The Nemesis company, for overseas registrants to browse the exhibition.
Choosing the default male character, I stepped into the metaverse decked out in a straw hat, Aloha shirt, and brown khaki shorts while sporting a camera. It’s kind of my style, really. Once the load screen was done, I was greeted with loud exhibition billboards while a colourful exhibition dome stood in the distance.
As with all games, the first thing to do is to test out your controls. WASD? Check. 360 camera control? Check. Oh, and you could select different emotes for your character to express, which made posing in front of the event entrance while doing the Running Man a great picture memorabilia of the event.
My first stop in the metaverse was a large floating bronze cup near the entrance, which popped up a message when I stepped near it. Win a Companion NFT if I collected all the boxes? Cool! I guess the minigame notification at the bottom left had something to do with it. Sadly, the Native American NPC in front of the entrance wasn’t as helpful in giving me further clues.
I stepped out into the open area to find the event situated within a huge exhibition ground. Located in a sprawling virtual garden that was decorated in a flower pattern, the main dome was situated in the middle with different NFT artworks scattered around the area. Hitting the ‘W’ button, I strolled over to the main area where the featured artworks were.
As the dome got closer, I realised it was a psychedelic swirl of colours that made for a rather mesmerising background as I perused the exhibits. To do so, I stepped up to the glowing blue ring in front of each NFT artwork and a pop up appeared with the synopsis. Some of the works in the dome include:
- Pebble, Manaaki, and Hau – who are the mascots of environmental group Purple Penguin and drawn by Jun Premiro
- SnarkySharkz – an NFT project of Danish artist SLYWEST, who created them as a commentary on ocean pollution
- When Humans – an artwork by Daniel Perez Rios about communication between machines and humans
- Beauty in the Simplicity of Life – a photo about fishing sustainability by Singaporean photographer Teo Chin Leong
While most of the artworks were beautifully captured, the only interaction I could do to show my support for the artwork was to press a literal ‘Like’ button at the end of the info blurb. Perhaps future exhibitions could weave in engaging interactions like “Share this artwork on your social media” or “Tip the artist from your crypto wallet”.
Remember that minigame we were tipped about at the entrance? All you had to do was walk through the blue arch that screamed ‘START CHALLENGE’, and you’d immediately find yourself chasing neatly lined loot boxes around the exhibition area. While the minigame was rather straightforward, my clumsy reflexes meant I spent a good two minutes trying to leap from the roof to a nearby umbrella instead of skipping it. You know, just doing what any good game completionist would do. While the prize wasn’t extraordinary, it made for a nice digital keepsake of the exhibition.
The garden was also dotted with the occasional pavilion that showcased the different exhibition participants such as the DOT art initiative and the Sovereign Art Foundation. Again, I could step into the glowing ring within the pavilion to learn more about them, but perhaps the pavilion could have had more details about their current projects, or even an interactive NPC to act like a virtual chatbot for their ongoing programmes.
Once I found the sprint button, it was time for a leisurely dash around the exhibition venue to preview the artworks around the area. Some NFT works that caught my eye were:
- Protruding Monument by Gyungsu An
- Carparthian Wilderness by Brian Rodriquez
- A time to live and time to die III by Gan Chin Lee
- La Estrella by Eugenia Martinez
As much as I would like to deny it, the pinball machine exhibit at the Arcade pavilion also caught my fancy, where I spent some time reminiscing the good old days of Windows 7’s 3D pinball.
It was an eye-opening experience to see how a virtual exhibition could be hosted in a metaverse world. With the ability to sync with its offline counterparts, the ImpactNFT showcase would be a case study for future exhibitions to hold their events both online and offline to reach a wider global audience.
On the downside, the inability to see other real-life characters in the metaverse and the almost non-existent chat made the exhibition seem like an isolated event. Plus, the event could have played upon the metaverse’s ability to integrate with the blockchain to create more interactive episodes.
The ImpactNFT Alliance also released its Purple Paper with the event to define the potential of ImpactNFTs, and demonstrate how it can intersect with creative industries to create a sustainable economic model that rewards environmental and social value. With their ImpactNFTs, the group hopes to bridge the gap between ESG (Environmental and Social Governance) and reporting, and allow NFTs to fund sustainable development causes and biodiversity protection.