A South African company helps suspend local art in the virtual world

Mukheli uses The Tree, an online marketplace for South African artists to promote and sell their work in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

“There is a virtual world in which people buy the land,” Makhli said, referring to the metaverse, a three-dimensional digital reality that tech giants like Microsoft and Facebook say is the future of the internet.

“People have property there… and your art could be on those walls.”

Mukheli clients receive both physical canvas and NFT, while other artists at The Tree sell up to five limited-edition NFT prints per piece, such as digital prints. Mukheli has already made thousands of dollars using the platform.

“I think it’s important as an artist and as a creator to always play where the ball is going and not necessarily where it is,” said Trevor Strowman, one of four other artists currently showing their work on The Tree.

Critics claim that blockchain, the digital ledgers used to store information, are not climate friendly because they consume computing power.

The Tree claims to save energy by running on Polygon, a blockchain that uses a fraction of the energy, and offsets every transaction by sending money to Greenpop, an environmental organization that plants trees across sub-Saharan Africa.

“It’s not just about art, artists and history, it’s about making sure that this growth in technology for artists doesn’t come at the expense of the planet,” said Dan Portal, co-founder of The Tree.

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