Yesterday, the Lumen Prize announced its shortlist for the inaugural NFT category as part of its annual awards.

The Lumen Prize has been recognizing pathbreaking works at the intersection of art and technology since 2012 and has awarded in excess of $100,000 in prize money across all its categories till date. This year, it has added the NFT Award category in partnership with Right Click Save (RCS) and

While RCS is sponsoring the award, will host an exhibition of the shortlisted entries at its project space in Mayfair in London from October 13, followed by a solo exhibition of the winner after the final results are announced on October 19.

Who’s been shortlisted in the Lumen Prize NFT Award category?


The shortlist of Lumen Prize’s first NFT Award arrays projects that are leveraging the blockchain for co-creation, audience participation, and interactivity. Image: Lifeforms by Sarah Friend / Courtesy the artist and Lumen Art Projects

Generative art, community involvement and co-creation, audience participation and interactivity, as well as critique of the social media hype and market speculation associated with NFTs are some of the underlying themes of the shortlisted entries for the category.

Lifeforms by Sarah Friend are units which mimic a newborn being that needs care and support to survive, demanding that of its owners and collectors. If not properly cared for, the “lifeform” will die and the underlying NFT will cease to exist, meaning that it will disappear from users’ wallets and cannot be transacted or transferred thereafter. The work critiques the mainstream view of NFTs as digital art assets to be acquired and sold as a financial investment for capital gains, instead positioning the idea of adoption as an emotional investment to be undertaken by a caring community.

Your Daytime Fireworks is a set of interactive NFT experience created by TRLab in collaboration with renowned contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang. Participants, drawn from the platform’s collector community, were invited to purchase and set off NFT fireworks, which were customized based on their location and weather conditions.

Rituals – Venice, an audio-visual collaboration between Justin Boreta and Aaron Penne, is a set of 1,000 NFT artworks continuously generating synthesized music and visuals through randomized processes. The music is inspired by meditative sound baths and builds from binaural tones.


Image: Degenerative by 0xDEAFBEEF / Courtesy the artist and Lumen Art Projects

Degenerative by 0xDEAFBEEF is a NFT collection of slot machines with generative art, which links the frenetic speculation in the early NFT art market to gambling and opportunism.

Mutant Garden Seeder by Dutch artist Harm van den Dorpel is generated using an algorithm based on Cartesian Genetic Programming, trained by the artist by looping continuous feedback through its output. The inspiration was the genetic mutation as a metaphor for an “algorithmic” system that constantly learns and adapts to sustain life.

Those in the longlist which missed out include Blossoming Cadaver by the Botto Project, This Artwork is Always on Sale by Simon De La Rouviere, and Unhuman Compositions by Damjanski.

Why it matters

Image: Your Daytime Fireworks by Cai Guo-Qiang and TRLab / Courtesy the artist and Lumen Art Projects

In the last few years, digital art and NFTs have democratized the process of art-making; allowed artists to come to the forefront of using cutting edge technologies like AI and machine learning; and enabled new media creators to be recognized as mainstream artists with legitimate market access. Their growth has disrupted the stranglehold of traditional art world gatekeepers like physical galleries, auction houses, and museums. However, while NFTs have achieved significant commercial value in a very short span of time, boosted by social media buzz and interest from crypto investors, their cultural value is yet to be robustly ascertained.

Lumen’s NFT Award can play a pivotal role in recognizing artists who are conceptually or creatively pushing the boundaries of their practice using the blockchain or NFTs. This will help elevate the discussion on this diverse and multi-disciplinary category beyond market prices or hype on Twitter and Discord. It will also create a platform for critical recognition, which is validated by expert jury members and celebrated by the wider NFT community.

What they said

“While discussing the selection criteria for the inaugural NFT Category this year, we talked about the NFT ecosystem and the identification of excellence in the use of blockchain technology as a tool, creative use of NFTs as a format or across multi-disciplinary projects that use these technologies in some way… What we were not interested in was how much money it made in the market.” — Jack Addis, Director, Lumen Art Projects

“Personally, for me, the decisive evaluation criteria while shortlisting works in the NFT category was about how the content was expressed in the chosen medium/format, and how the conceptual and aesthetic concerns were originally brought together.” — Silke Schmickl, Lead Curator, Moving Image, M+ Museum, and Jury Panel Member

“The Lumen NFT Award acknowledges the work of a new generation of digital creators, many of whom have developed careers as artists thanks to the NFT. At a time when mainstream media has focused on NFTs as a vehicle for speculation or their environmental cost, artists working with NFTs have often been ignored. With ‘The Merge’ now complete, this award is a chance to celebrate.” — Alex Estorick, Editor-in-Chief, Right Click Save


NFTs & Digital Art Projects