NFTs Live Forever: From Apollo 11 Artifacts to the Arch of Peace

BY Jex Exmundo

October 06, 2022

When you store something on a blockchain — whether it’s a meme coin, a Goblin NFT, or even government documents — it will remain there forever, etched upon the blockchain’s ledger. It won’t be disturbed or modified, and, barring a worldwide apocalypse, it won’t be forgotten.

This last bit is essential. Although an ISIS supporter may have previously experimented with the immutable properties of blockchain technology as a way to keep hateful propaganda online forever, this is very much the exception and not the rule. As such, multiple projects have propped up over the years to leverage this core feature of blockchain technology.

The blockchain as immutable and unforgettable

And what are they hoping to do? Preserve culture. Whether it’s an artifact, architecture, or sometimes a once-in-a-lifetime event — there is hardly a better way to ensure these get preserved online than via NFTs.

When anything and everything in this world comes into existence, it begins a losing battle with entropy. That goes for non-living things as well — especially architecture. Just take a quick look at some of the ancient structures of the world: Many remain standing, but time has taken its toll on all of these feats of engineering, sometimes altering them on a near-fundamental level. For example, the pyramids in Egypt used to be white thanks to the highly-polished slabs of limestone used in their construction.

Thankfully, not all structures built during antiquity have gone through similar amounts of decay. Italy is an excellent example of this. Strewn throughout the otherwise-modern country are tangible remnants of its long, rich history: its architecture. Unfortunately, despite the care that goes into maintaining buildings like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, there’s no guarantee that these will stand forever.

Unconditional tourism

However, crypto art project Monuverse might change that fact. It’s hoping to use NFTs and the metaverse in a novel way: instead of bringing users to images of distant worlds, it’ll bring our world to them. And it’ll all start with one of Italy’s most famous monuments: the Arch of Peace.

A nighttime shot of the Arch of Peace. Source: Monuverse

“On NYE [2021], the Arch of Peace got dressed with a groundbreaking 360° public architectural data sculpture created by the renowned Ouchhh studio. It was the first time a monument was video-mapped in its entirety. The result was a mind-blowing immersive experience that merged physical and virtual realities while giving the Arch of Peace a completely new life,” said Monuverse founder Andrea Salomone in an interview with nft now.

And what became of these video mappings? Aside from several NFT pieces inspired by the iconic arches set to drop, Monuverse also aims to provide users access to the monument via an immersive VR experience. A virtual tourist experience, if you will.

“With virtual tourism, we could travel anywhere in a heartbeat. We will be able to visit places we would never have hoped to visit and learn about the history of different cultures in a new and engaging way, like talking to historical characters powered by AI, attending events without physically being there, and much more,” Salomone said. “Google Earth is an incredible tool, but it’s not an immersive experience. When you use it, you really do not feel like you are traveling; in my opinion, you are barely dreaming of doing so, as you would do while watching photos or videos of your friends’ holidays or a movie set in, let’s say, New York. As technology keeps improving our lives, I believe we can really push tourism a step further.”

Undoing the damage of war

Unfortunately, time is not the only foe of our world’s architecture. War also poses an equal, if not greater, threat to the integrity of the beautiful structures lining our planet. Sometimes overlooked when considering the cost of war is its impact on the physical world around us. That’s the exact truth that Kyiv-based multimedia artist Alexey Kondakov hoped to address with Reverberate Ukraine.

Reverberate Ukraine
Empty shelves in a Kyiv supermarket. Source: Reverberate Ukraine

However, instead of preserving the streets of Kyiv in their prime, Kondakov chose to do the opposite. Instead, his collection centered on showing the world the type of damage war can still do to our cities and capitals. Despite that, Kondakov took care in depicting his beloved home’s current state by juxtaposing these scenes of a wartorn Kyiv with characters directly lifted from centuries-old fine art paintings.

Proceeds of Reverberate Ukraine’s sale helped fund the World Central Kitchen. This non-profit organization that works day and night to feed anyone affected by one of recent history’s most urgent humanitarian crises. The auction for these pieces concluded in May 2022, conducted by legacy auction house Bonhams. As of writing, limited edition prints for one piece from the collection are still up for sale on its official website.

Owning history

Of course, architecture is far from the only thing NFTs can help preserve. The same goes for artifacts, too. This was demonstrated in a July auction for relics from one of human history’s crowning moments — Apollo 11’s groundbreaking mission. As part of Sotheby’s Geek Week event, the auction house included a collection sure to stir even the stillest of space-fan hearts.

The “Buzz Aldrin: American Icon” collection allowed collectors to purchase and own items from Aldrin’s storied career. Of course, that includes several key pieces of Apollo 11 lore. Namely, Aldrin’s flight jacket, the broken circuit breaker that nearly brought disaster to the mission, and the felt tip pen used to fix it.

Buzz Aldrin’s famous pen from the Apollo 11 mission. Source: Sotheby’s

Thanks to MIRA’s vast capability of creating digital representations of real-world objects — accurate down to the last molecule — this auction paired these items with NFTs of their digitized forms to act as proofs of authenticity. Considering that the pen above saw bids as high as $2 million, its new owner should rest easy knowing that they couldn’t lose this certificate even if they tried. The certificate and the digital form of the item itself, will live on the blockchain forever.

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