Aku World Showcases Immersive Experience at Art Basel
Micah Johnson's authentic NFT character allowed visitors at the Art Basel Miami to see the world through the character's Helmet. He built an experimental installation about his NFT character, Aku for Art Basel held in Miami.
Aku World involved exclusive merchandize and NFTs, panel discussions, artwork, and a massive version of Aku's helmet that art goers could enter. Aku has gained popularity in the developing NFT space. Built by retired MLB player Micah Johnson, the young black astronaut has evolved from a cycle of Ethereum NFTs to a movie and TV deal, a virtual trip to the International Space Center, and a collaboration between the artist and Financial services giant Visa.
But Aku's leading adventure happened during the Art Basel held in Miami last week, Johnson partnered with cryptocurrency exchange platform, FTX. The partnership enabled the artist to bring his journey to Aku reality.
Johnson put an experiential installation during the Art Basel expo.
Aku was placed in a spacious venue in Miami's vibrant Wynwood art district, where it delivered an immersive experience, punctuated by a massive recreation of the boy's helmet that art goers could enter to watch video footage of his intergalactic trips. The walls within the vast 30,000-square-foot space similarly illustrated colorful, 360-degree planetary sites.
The oversized helmet allowed visitors to experience Aku's pursuit from the character's perspective. Johnson likened the experience to the development of the future metaverse, the advancing Web3-native virtual world that is being developed around non-fungible tokens.
NFTs are special tokens that operate like deeds of ownership for virtual assets.
Johnson said, "Aku can travel from digital realm to digital realm." He added, "He is a kid who is very confident in this digital world and sees the physical world as important." The NFT creator said, "That helmet shows people the places you can go."
The installation showcased physical artwork from Johnson alongside other Black artists, like Floyd Strickland as well as the late Jean-Michel Basquiat. It also provided a space for a series of panel dialogues held between Johnson, singer Kehlani and rapper Pusha T, and many creators and developers from the cryptocurrency industry.
During the three-day event, Kehlani performed while Pusha T designed merchandise alongside fashion designers Jerome Lamaar and Aleali May. Johnson stated that the rapper has been a diehard supporter of Aku and that the other designers were looking to get involved in Aku's journey.
He said, "Getting one of those people to do something with their project would be cool, but having all three of them involved in this is really powerful." "And we didn't have to twist their arm. They saw Aku and they knew how passionate I was about getting this message of what's possible to the world," added Johnson.
He said, "I never saw Aku as an NFT project at all. I just utilize NFT's to orchestrate an audience and really create an alignment." Johnson added, "I see Aku as a generational character that is very much mainstream."
According to Johnson, the objective of Aku World was to establish an experience about a character without dwelling so much on the technology used to create the original collectibles.
Johnson explained, "I wanted to do something on a large scale because I knew Art Basel was going to be the NFT event this year," He added, I really want to show that we can use NFTs to get a place like this, to be able to do something of this magnitude."
Still, NFTs remained the main attraction for attendees, mostly those who wanted to select an exclusive collectible. FTX offered a wallet creation station to assist newcomers onboard into cryptocurrency. Also, Aku World featured a "4D scanner" that could make a model of attendees to create an interactive Aku-themed metaverse NFT avatar.
Johnson said that he intends to introduce the Aku World installation to other cities in the future, as well as the NFT universe, to help drive value back to the community. The former pro baseball player has had a whirlwind year the now professional artist aims for brighter days ahead for his NFT-fueled innovation.
First published on Dec 8, 2021