NFTs in real life (IRL) are surprisingly powerful

As one of those self-proclaimed degenerates who are obsessed with NFTs, it was an interesting experience to visit a real-life NFT show put on by NFT Art Berlin at Kraftwerk, the old power plant near the Tresor techno club in Germany’s capital. Admittedly, I had very low expectations, imagining that this was some kind of cash-grab taking advantage of the super hot digital art-NFT trend that had taken the world by storm in the last two years, but as someone that spends much of his time in that world, I had to see what was happening with my own eyes. Much to my surprise, though, I found what seemed like an authentic counterculture scene that was built on the foundation of a new visual culture. Did I love every work that was shown? No. But was I impressed? Absolutely.

One of the biggest things I noticed almost immediately upon entering was the electric energy in the air. This was an exciting place. (Although, to be fair, the very first thing I noticed was how unusually nice the ticket guys were — I felt welcome and at home immediately — fun, helpful and happy.) For those that haven’t been, Kraftwerk Berlin is a classic industrial setting, so it’s always an enjoyable and atmospheric place to see an art show. On the first floor, there were a few dozen very large TV screens, mostly vertically positioned, that showed rotating artworks from what looked like the Ethereum blockchain. Works from SuperRare were intermixed with PFPs of Cryptopunks, Mutant Bored Apes and other well-known projects in the NFT space (Squiggles, etc.). All of this was enhanced by the presence of a live DJ that emphasized the feeling that this was a new kind of club experience, a weird, but effortless amalgamation of the techno and NFT scene.

The works worked surprisingly well on the huge TVs, although horizontal works didn’t fare as well. There were a few horizontal TVs, but despite the excellent job they had done, you could still feel the tension of working with 16:9 dimensions. It reminded me of my sense that projectors remain the best presentation device for digital art. In their defense, this would have been very difficult with Kraftwerk Berlin’s layout, so compromises were likely required. And overall, the impact was actually quite impressive, so they did a very good job to create an almost sc-fi, futuristic art experience that felt distinctively new. Compared to traditional gallery visits, this was full of energy, youth and life. It made me quite proud, frankly, to be an artist, collector, and just overall participant in this scene. Something special was happening there.

We wandered around the first floor kind of randomly and grabbed a Weinschorle (white wine with mineral water) at the inside bar (also a nice touch). After taking in many of the artworks, we came across an area where you could buy NFTs of CryptoBerliners (still unrevealed) using QR codes for 0.9 eth (US$2700). It seemed a little outlandish for a Friday night budget, but I thought to myself, “That’s the crypto scene for you — people have no idea how much money these people have.” We climbed the stairs to the second floor, where there was a pretty impressive setup. Observers like ourselves were kept on the sides where we could see individuals that were being chaperoned, one at a time, to a very intense spotlight about half a meter by half a meter in the middle of the central area. The person would be led right up to the spotlight area by two people in sci-fi-anime-cosplay costumes and be asked to walk into the square. When they did, a massive avatar would appear on a huge screen that was being projected on the wall.

And that’s when it clicked for me. These were the people that were buying the CryptoBerliners NFTs, and they were going upstairs to reveal which one they had received. We watched three people in a row walk up and reveal which avatar they had received. When I clued in to what was going on and told my girlfriend, she said, seeing the third person, “Does that girl really have $3000 to spend?” I said, “This is crypto. A lot of these kids are probably richer than you and me combined.”

After that, we went to the chill area on the side where there was a Ledger booth that sold physical cold storage wallets for storing your crypto safely and securely. Again, I found the guys working there to be super friendly and helpful, as we effortlessly talked crypto and NFTs for 15 minutes. (I already had a Ledger.) Humorously, I asked them whether they had bought one of the CryptoBerliners NFTs for nearly an Eth. Surprisingly, one guy said, “Yeah, I talked to the team. I like the project, so I picked one up. It feels like a good investment.” He may be right, but it just goes to show that crypto money isn’t treated the same way as real money, even though it is, in fact, convertible. If he had 27 one-hundred U.S. dollar bills, would he (and the three others that we happened to see) pay that much for a JPG. Perhaps, but I actually kind of doubt it. But don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge NFT collector, so I’m as guilty as anyone (if not the worst offender of the group). One of the main reasons people feel comfortable spending these kinds of sums is that they think they might 10x or more on their investment, and it happens surprisingly often in the space, so it’s not crazy.

We went back downstairs and had some delicious smoked pork sandwiches and watched the dj as the place began to fill up. Over the next hour or two, I found myself in the most crowded club situation I had been in since before the corona pandemic. I was maskless, as was 98% of everyone else, and it felt great.




Italian-Canadian artist in Berlin.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

The Great Reset. Cryptoeconomics.

ARK GitHub Development Bounty Program — February 2020


Money Should Be A Worry-Free Asset. Bitcoin Fixes This

Anonymity & Cryptocurrency: A Few Tips On How To Keep Your Privacy

Strategy of the Week: Introducing “Bear Trader”

What you probably don’t know about Music NFTs!!

Difference between Bitcoin and Ripple

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Adrian Pocobelli

Adrian Pocobelli

Italian-Canadian artist in Berlin.

More from Medium

Buying your first NFT: here’s everything you need to know

Future Predictions of NFTs: The Non-Fungible Token is Not Dead

How to Choose An NFT Marketing Agency That Converts

The Unique Visionary & Serial Entrepreneur — Artworks By Jahnvi