Indigenous artists from East Arnhem Land venture into billion-dollar NFT digital marketplace

30 March 2022
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Indigenous Yolngu artists in remote East Arnhem Land are known globally for their award-winning innovative works, drawing connections to land and sea. 

For the first time, they're venturing into the digital world, with a group of artists making and selling NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. 

The phenomenon of NFTs has seen billions of dollars flow into the exchange of digital photos, videos and sounds.  

They are made using the same technology as cryptocurrency, and are non-fungible because of the unique digital signature attached to each one when it goes through its authentication process, making it one of a kind. 

While NFTs have been around for some years, the world started to take notice last year when a single digital artwork from US digital artist, Beeple, sold for nearly 100 million dollars. The digital marketplace surged to around $56 billion dollars in value last year. 

When investors pitched the prospect of entering the growing marketplace, Yolngu artist Ishmael Marika, based in Yirrkala, was intrigued.

The NFTs in Yirrkala are being created by digitising physical works, including drawings and bark paintings.

The individual pieces are photographed using an infrared camera device before being turned into moving digital works. 

While it's not known whether NFTs could become a long-term financial stream for Indigenous communities, Ishmael Marika believes it is worth a shot.

 - CyberBeat

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