Art Basel Miami? More Like Art Basel Silicon Valley

Photo: Getty Images

In December 2021, Art Basel Miami was a spectacle unlike any other art fair, Because it’s not really an art fair anymore. The week-long event celebrated the intersection of art, design and fashion. And, especially notable this year, technology. Miami’s growing startup scene was on full display. It felt more like navigating the crowded streets of SXSW headed to a crypto panel than strolling Miami’s galleries.

Like SXSW, Art Basel buzzed with Silicon Valley bros in their Allbirds sneakers and Patagonia vests. Everyone co-mingled with other cutting-edge and creative industries. The blockchain and art communities are now permanently intertwined. NFTs felt less like a buzzword and more like the inevitable next generation of what Art Basel will (and already does) offer. But, unlike the Bay Area or Austin, Miami caters to those who “party in the city where the heat is on all night, on the beach till the break of dawn,” Big Willie Style.

Art Basel felt notably expansive this year.

Collins Ave, the main stretch of shops, restaurants and galleries along Miami Beach, was lined with private parties, shows and activations. Public art spilled onto the beach itself. Downtown Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood staked its claim as Art Basel’s unaffiliated off-campus destination for edgier exhibitions.

Here are our highlights:

Machine Hallucinations: Coral

Refik Anadol creates dream-like, abstract, immersive experiences with data-driven machine-learning algorithms. The experience used AI to transform millions of images of coral into vibrant art. Everything was on a massive LED screen right on the sand, dazzling in front of the horizon day and night.

Human + Machine

Tezos’ collab with Art Basel combined education with the exhibition that delivered an interactive NFT gallery alongside a conversation series on technology and art — and a serious crash course into why the f— NFTs aren’t going away. The conversations are all available on-demand on Tezos’ website.

Chanel does the drone show right

Drone shows are no longer cool just because they’re drone shows. Chanel wowed the crowd while celebrating the 100th anniversary of their perfume, N5. They lit up the sky with more than 500 drones that sparkled like stars, choreographed to music with astral vibes right on the beach.

Hall of Visions

Pilar Zeta’s beach sculpture “Hall of Visions” featured a corridor leading to a giant egg. Inspired by the “search for the ability to be present to manifest a future self,” the piece wasn’t auctioned, but its NFT counterparts sold for around $45,000.

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