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Miami - the Intersection of Art + Tech

Author: Ben Yurcisin

“Machine Hallucinations: Coral” by Turkish-American artist Refik Anadol

As I entered the sunshine state for Art Basel to escape the brisk weather of NYC for a few days, I couldn’t help but to sing the Will Smith hit in my head on a loop. I hadn’t ever been to Miami before, so my only perspective on the city to date was from the song and music video. But that was honestly enough to draw me in…

I was filled with excitement as I prepared to experience Art Basel for the first time; coincidently, during the first year that they incorporated NFT culture and art into the programming and events. As a huge NFT enthusiast and collector, I couldn’t wait to see what they had in store for the community. And I must say, Miami did not disappoint!

Ben Yurcisin - ParlayMe NFT Reporter and Sissa Belfiore - ParlayMe Social Media Producer

The art district of Miami, Wynwood, was absolutely bumping with energy, culture and creativity. The streets were filled with art of all types, showcasing the talent of the Miami art scene while incorporating NFT culture - which I noticed with the inclusion of Bored Apes in the graffiti art. While the main Art Basel exhibit was super impressive on its own, there were also a series of satellite events every day, ranging from panel discussions, to networking events, to interactive art exhibits and more. There was never a dull moment in Miami!

One of my favorite events of the weekend was the Business of Art and NFTs at Le Rouge lounge, sponsored by Grit Daily and TokeSociety. This lounge setting featured tons of NFT displays with QR codes where you could actually purchase the Tezos NFT, a full buffet of food, free mimosas, panel discussions on all things NFT, not to mention lounge couches and an incredible community to network with. It was pretty much everything I look for in an event (especially the mimosas), so needless to say we spent the better half of the day chillin and learning in good ol Le Rouge. Cheers to the Grity Daily and TokenSociety teams for bringing the NFT community together at Art Basel!

We then went on to explore the Miami streets for Basel House, an outdoor festival of art, entertainment and sunshine. Not only did we get to see graffiti art created in real time, but we also were pleasantly surprised with professional breakdancing and BMX stunts sponsored by Monster energy drink. The hype was real at Basel House, and I quickly learned that Art Basel was MUCH more than simply an art exhbit! It was a movement, and I couldn’t have been happier to be a part of it.

Much needed coffee break between exhibits for our ParlayMe Social Media Producer

By the time we made it to the official Art Basel exhibit at the Miami Beach Convention Center, we were already in love with the Miami art scene and the community that Art Basel brought together. As I entered this massive center filled with art exhibits from all over the globe, I couldn’t help but to be overwhelmed with the pure volume of insane talent in one space. I didn’t even know where to begin! So I just started going, enjoying the diverse art of all styles while keeping my eyes peeled for anything that resembled an NFT. After much exploration and sensory fulfilment, I came across the Tezos exhibit. Through art, tech displays, and panel discussions, they painted the picture of how NFTs are playing a pivotal role in the art scene of today and tomorrow. There was even an interactive display with a QR code where you could capture your own NFT in real time, sent directly to your Kukai wallet - a popular wallet that holds Tezos NFTs, powered by the Tezos blockchain. My Tezos NFT is interesting to say the least, but I’m super grateful to have a memorandum from such a special weekend.

“This unique NFT portrait was collaboratively created by a human and a machine algorithm at Art Basel Miami Beach 2021, designed by Mario Klingemann (Quasimondo), an artist and pioneer in the use of artificial intelligence in art. Through individual interactions, the “portrait” was generated in real-time, producing a one of kind NFT that blends the input from the viewer as well as the algorithm from the artist.”

The NFT art also made it’s way to the beach. In “Machine Hallucinations: Coral” by Turkish-American artist Refik Anadol, an enormous display directly on the beach showcased an interactive visualization of coral and beach-like objects in motion, accompanied with peaceful ambient music playing on their speakers creating an overall surreal experience that was captivating in every way. It was easy to get lost in this mezmerizing visualization with the ocean waves gently crashing in the background. I honestly couldn’t think of a better environment to enjoy art. You did it again, Miami. Will Smith would be proud.

All in all, out of the whole Art Basel experience, my favorite part was actually an unexpected interaction that showcased the power of the NFT community. As I was walking throughout the Art Basel exhibit, I brought out my phone to mint an anticipated NFT project, Alpha Girl Club, on Opensea. I was trying to get the app to work and must have mumbled some words that resembled “OpenSea”, so someone stopped dead in their tracks and asked, “did you just say Opensea”?

There, in that moment, I found another NFT enthusiast, and though we just met, we shared an energy and excitement that was unlike any other, and engaged in a super hyped 20 minute conversation about the NFT space and future of the internet. We both knew that we had an unspoken understanding; that we saw something most people aren’t seeing. We are open and accepting of the future of an internet that most people consider crazy. This brief yet powerful interaction validated the power and excitement of the NFT community to me. Complete strangers, with different backgrounds, coming together with a common purpose, love and understanding of what this digital art means to the greater technology ecosystem. That conversation lit me up for days to come.

Thanks Art Basel, for bringing together a community of traditional artists and NFT pioneers to create a space unlike any other.

Author: Ben Yurcisin

ParlayMe Tech & NFT Reporter - I am a serial entrepreneur with a passion for creating community and helping brands discover and amplify their authentic voice through social media marketing. As founder of BeYu Labs - a web3 business focused on community and unforgettable events - I aim to explore the unique opportunities and potential presented by the rise of NFT culture and future of the internet as we know it. I spend my free time playing guitar, skateboarding, traveling and researching overpriced JPEGs.


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