At Frieze Seoul’s opening on September 2, contemporary New York-based sculptor Barry X Ball debuted his NFT work. The Granulo-Specular Chiaroscuro Meta-Morphs series sees Ball’s physical sculptures transformed into 3D digital images, with the NFTs rendered with extreme surface detail to replicate a statue’s physical tactility. Displayed at the LG OLED Lounge alongside new digital works by Anish Kapoor, the event marked not just Ball foray into digital art, but also, the unveiling of LG Electronic’s NFT platform, LG Art Lab.
LG has launched LG Art Lab, a NFT platform and app available in the US on premium LG TVs running webOS 5.0 or later. Art Lab allows users to buy, sell, and display digital artworks by NFT artists from the comfort of their living rooms. Attempting to operate as a one-stop solution for all things NFT, the platform features a drops section (including a Live Drops countdown), a marketplace, and a “My Collection” page where users can view and access artworks they’ve purchased. Art Lab is built on the Hedera network and integrated with Wallypto.
Ball’s work will be the first NFTs to be launched on LG Art Lab on September 22.
Why it matters
The move signals LG’s broader bid to enter the digital art world by offering displays with premium render technologies that galleries, museums, artists, and art collectors can use. As more artists begin working in VR, AR, and NFTs — the quality and innovations needed in physical hardware to display digital work is both an engineering problem and an emerging market.
LG’s OLED TVs have already been used as displays for works by Refik Anadol at König Galerie and Kevin McCoy at Frieze New York, while the company has partnered with the Guggenheim Museum to spearhead an initiative focused on new technologies, including NFTs.
LG isn’t the first tech company to launch a NFT platform. In March, Samsung announced a partnership with Nifty Gateway to create a smart TV NFT platform. But both LG and Samsung are preceded by HTC VIVE Arts, which introduced its NFT marketplace in December 2021 with a drop from the Mucha Foundation.
The trend of tech companies releasing NFT platforms might open up the market to more buyers and artists, but ironically, might also make digital art inaccessible. While a TV can display and allow users to sell and trade digital artworks, to really “bring the gallery home,” the room for monopolization is clear as only specific TVs made by specific companies can display hardware-specific NFT platforms. And that’s not mentioning the barrier of cost: as of this writing, the cheapest LG OLED TV is about $1,400, with Samsung’s The Frame starting at $599.
What they said
“While many people have heard of NFTs and would like to participate in the growing ecosystem, it can be overly complex and difficult to get started. LG Art Lab is designed to allow millions of users in the US to easily access and display NFTs, without having to interact with code or directly with a blockchain themselves.” — Chris Jo, Senior Vice President and Head of Platform Business, LG Electronics