Lisa Ray, the multi-faceted personality renowned for her contribution to the entertainment industry, modelling, and philanthropy, has added another feather to her cap. Her latest endeavour, TheUpsideSpace, is a pioneering and curator-led platform that focuses on promoting digital art and the innovative technology of NFTs.
Ray, 51-years-old, co-founded TheUpsideSpace alongside Singapore-based art collector and philanthropist Ayesha Khan. The two met during the early days of the pandemic in Singapore and shared a desire to make contemporary regional art more accessible to a wider audience and to modernize the art world while harnessing the potential of Web3 technology.
The platform was launched with the mission of bringing forth a new generation of artists from South, East, and West Asia.
Opening Gateway To Artists
She believes that the primary goal of TheUpsideSpace is to offer all artists, including digital artists, access to technology. “We work with diverse artists, including digital artists who are, in some cases, digital natives. Our exhibits vary in content and approach, delighting in the diversity of expression.”
TheUpsideSpace comprises an online art lab, a creator studio, and an inclusive community for discovery and discourse. It serves as a platform for both traditional visual artists who are new to NFTs and new media artists who want to expand the reach of their experimental art.
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“We launched in December and managed to hold five digital exhibitions that were very effective in promoting young artists in different regions. This has become our de facto launch pad, even though we are primarily a digital arts platform," Ray tells Benzinga India.
NFTs — The Game Changer
For Ray, the introduction of NFTs has transformed the art world, providing benefits to both artists and collectors, such as authenticity, provenance, and collecting solutions. “With NFTs, you get transparency and direct communication with artists, which is not encouraged in the traditional art world. Traditional art purchases involve a lot of hoops to jump through, making it an arduous process,” said Ray.
She explains that every period, movement, and disruption is initially met with resistance, which shows that innovation and progress are being made.
"For example, the invention of paint tubes enabled artists to paint on-site, which led to the Impressionist movement. Today, these paintings are worth millions of dollars and are viewed in museums and institutions, but when they were first introduced, they were met with resistance. However, every period, movement, and disruption is initially met with resistance, which is a healthy indicator that you’re onto something."
The UpsideSpace is geographically agnostic and not necessarily targeting specific geographic regions. "We are planning a phygital exhibition in New York in September to engage diasporic communities interested in the art movements happening in their homelands. We have many different strands of thought driving our platform.”
Not Everyone's Cup Of Tea
Ray faces a significant challenge in navigating the divide between two distinct NFT buyer demographics: those who view NFTs as stock market investments, and those who appreciate NFTs as fine art. "This issue has made it difficult to effectively articulate the nature and intricacies of TheUpsideSpace’s platform to both traditional and web 3.0 collectors, oftentimes leading to confusion."
In responding to the concerns about the environmental impact of NFTs, she noted that from the outset, the team at TheUpsideSpace engaged in debates about the blockchain technology most suitable. Ultimately, they opted for Ethereum ETH/USD blockchain, which implemented Proof of Stake and thus became more environmentally friendly.
"We are conscious of the environmental impact of blockchain technology and that has driven our initial decisions. We will continue to track this and explore various solutions, such as carbon emission schemes. When we launch our Genesis NFT, we may be able to integrate some solutions to address this issue. It’s definitely a conversation that we are having and are conscious of.”
Ray's Two Cents On Artists
Ray provided insights for individual artists entering the NFT space, acknowledging its current state of flux whilst the market continues to mature.
According to Ray, authenticity and self-expression are key in the web 3.0 space, where the audience values art quality over the artist’s reputation outside of the market. “The market is still maturing and can be hectic at times. As an individual artist, you have to promote yourself and become your own brand, which was previously done by gallerists. If you have a strong narrative and expression, it will find an audience, but being on Twitter is important," she said.
She emphasized that remaining true to oneself while adapting to the evolving environment is critical for success in the NFT space. "It’s important to be authentic and be yourself, but this market will mature, and people will want to invest in quality in the long term rather than flipping."
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