At Art Basel, FLUF Haus breaks down the barrier between the metaverse and the physical world


Last month, as the cultural elite wrapped up Art Basel with the usual lavish purchases of paintings by Keith Herring and decaying sculptures by Daniel Arsham, a different crowd had gathered a few blocks up the South Beach coast. The world’s first “metaverse star” was about to happen.

FLUF Haus, the first in-person gathering for a community of virtual 3D bunnies (known as Flufs), was hosting a concert for the music star known as “Angelbaby” – a large tattooed pink bunny whose identity, appearance and music had been created entirely on the Metaverse.

Despite Angelbaby’s entirely virtual existence, some 600 people, largely NFT community players, FLUF World– had flown in from all over the world to witness the debut in person. A projection screen overlooked the dance floor where guests including Trinidad James and Boyz Noise mingled amidst fire-eaters and models. Screens scattered throughout the room displayed various Fluf avatars, interrupted by animated scenes from FLUF World.

The event – which felt a bit like a release party for the newly created FLUF World – highlighted a crucial, often overlooked detail of the burgeoning NFT space: the community.

“The most important thing for me with FLUF World was the Discord.” said Robert Hellauer, a 33-year-old financial analyst who became a Fluf incumbent in September. “I’ve been on all the Discords, and all the Metaverses have a different vibe… And you could just feel the energy with this one.”

Like the famous Bored Apes or CryptoPunks, a Fluf’s value is not just as a piece of digital art, but as a digital identity. Much like Supreme or Thrasher did for skateboarders, NFTs ostensibly codify culture, marking its allegiance to virtual clans and online subcultures. Buying from a community, quite literally, helps carve out a metaverse identity. FLUF World recognized this early on and decided to intentionally avoid the toxicity present in many virtual worlds, instead focusing on creating a vibrant and inclusive world to house their digital animal characters.

This intentional community appeal apparently paid off, as many Fluf World users expressed previous interest in the metaverse, but had yet to find a space that appealed to them.

“These guys think of things that other guys don’t,” says Tom Soler, a software manager who attends the event. “Decentraland was launched way ahead of time, but it feels very empty. These guys thought about the most appealing way to create a community for people who want to stick together. »

This commitment is reflected in Fluf World’s 42,000-member Discord, where “#new-fluffers are greeted with a reminder to ‘treat each other with respect,’ and after searching Fluf radio and channels sales channel, they can navigate to the “Above Ground” section to find channels such as #health-and-wellness and #time-to-talk.

That shouldn’t overlook the appeal of Fluf World’s impressive technology and artistic detail. Rather than using 8-bit images or 2D cartoons, Fluf World features fully 3D characters designed by animators who have worked on projects such as Avatar and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Characters fly over customizable, multi-dimensional environments, which include both custom character music and location-based backgrounds ranging from a desert to a futuristic city (collectively referred to as “scenes and sounds”).

Along with the original 10,000 “Flufs” bunnies, FLUF World introduced its second line of characters – known as Party Bears – all 10,000 of which sold out in less than 10 minutes. Beyond avatars, stakeholders can also purchase virtual real estate called “burrows”, and even AI brain spiders (known as “things”) that use pattern recognition to create and create their own new virtual art. All characters in Fluf World are constantly evolving and often contain hidden attributes that develop and reveal themselves over time.

Together, this technology, this art and these community channels weave together a digital world that promises to be truly profound; an online space with the potential to create a self-sustaining growth cycle based on bottom-up user participation.

“When it comes to other [metaverse] platforms, it’s all about roadmaps,” says FLUF World superfan Nick Synodis, (who goes by the pseudonym Knux). “Fluf is in a class of its own. Its competitor is Spotify. It’s Facebook.

A record label for the metaverse

One of the most promising examples of FLUF World’s potential to be a truly vibrant multi-channel world is their partnership with NFT music collective, Hume.

Described by co-founders Jay Stolar and David Beiner as the “Web3 version of a record label”, Hume is the NFT music hitting service that allows Flufs to own and commercially display exclusive music snippets within their environment. personage. With a slogan of “we are hume. there are many of us,” Hume has the most active follow twitter in the Fluf World community, acting as both a differentiator and hype builder for the virtual world.

“We’re creating music-driven Metastars,” says record producer Gino the Ghost, event emcee and Hume evangelist. “The next Billie Eilish or Drake will be in the metaverse.”

When asked what prompted him to migrate his experience from the traditional music field, Gino (who composed music for rapper Saweetie) expressed both a burning fascination with FLUF World, as well as ‘a common frustration with the revenue structure of the music industry.

“What I do mostly, I work with the pop side, the rap side, the dance side – and they all want to know, ‘How do I get into NFTs?’ All of these creatives are so sick of labels and royalties – and musical NFTs are a way out that isn’t lucrative.

With the creation of their star metaverse Angelbaby, Gino and the founders of Hume are optimistic that Web3 could create a paradigm shift not only in how artists generate income, but also in how fans can benefit from the loyalty of their artist. In this case, for example, by financially supporting Angelbaby’s origin story (which involved being lost in the desert after being transported 1000 years in time), fans received some of the original music. from Angelbaby. This music in turn increases in value as Angelbaby’s popularity increases.

“People who helped Angelbaby in the desert all now own a piece of their song that is worth $400-500. Over time, that increases the value of their own NFT,” Beiner explains.

Gino explains the relationship a little more simply: “It’s a way for fans to earn money by supporting their favorite artists.”

Global competition or synergy?

As Gino’s introduction winds down and Angelbaby’s giant character is projected onto a screen in front of a sea of ​​cellphone recordings, one aspect of FLUF Haus immediately becomes clear: it’s surprisingly normal.

Despite all the talk of Web3 and NFTs in the Metaverse, the event feels like any other concert – with people dancing up close and having a good time with people they know. Except for the fact that the performer is a 13-foot-tall pink bunny with no known human identity, you’d be hard pressed to know this was an NFT event.

And in a way, that’s kind of the point. As virtual representations of ourselves continue to grow – and the metaverse becomes increasingly populated – our online identities inevitably will too. But that does not mean that we will give up our personalities in the physical world. Like gamertags, bitmojis, or animal crossing islands, spaces like FLUF World will add another layer to our beings that enhance, not replace our existing lives. FLUF Haus was trying to demonstrate this connection to the world.

“The metaverse is going to be this amazing digital space,” says Knux. “But the ultimate goal is to live in both worlds.”


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