BOARDROOM SPOTLIGHT

Micah Johnson’s “Aku World” Brings NFTs to Life at Art Basel

The former MLB player turned digital artist debuted a three-day immersive event at this year’s Art Basel in Miami starring Aku, the NFT astronaut character he created.

This past weekend, former Major League Baseball player Micah Johnson brought Aku, a Black NFT astronaut, to Miami for a three-day experience at Miami’s Art Basel

The “Aku World” event served as a bridge to bring Aku to the physical realm with fans, artists, and collaborators with art, music, fashion, and technology. A partnership with cryptocurrency exchange FTX US allowed for attendees to sign up for the event through their own crypto wallet, while also collecting non-fungible tokens through hidden QR codes. They were also able to purchase digital art created by Raf Grassetti.

Amid the festivities, Johnson stepped into the Boardroom Spotlight to speak about his ongoing adventures in the world of NFT art with Aku.

Top-tier ticket holders had exclusive access to the “FTX Minting Room,” where they were able to create their own 4D-scanned avatar that lives within the Aku universe. They will later trade, sell or display in their digital wallets. 

“Watching people take in something you create is always my favorite part,” said Johnson, Aku’s creator. “I never imagined Aku being this big this quickly, but I knew it was going to be special after getting this out to the world. It was always my dream for Aku to be a generational character.”

The event also featured an on-site merch room where VIP guest designers Pusha T, Jerome LaMarr, and Aleali May collaborated to create exclusive clothing items. Each release was limited but was available to pre-order at the event and online.

“I’m incredibly grateful to have Jerome Lamarr, Pusha T, and Aleali May a part of this. They are at the top of their game [and] people who have achieved their dreams. To have them involved really amplifies the message, and hopefully we inspire the next generation,” said Johnson. 

Aku’s Collection, curated by Art Angels, told more of Aku’s story through an art installation for guests to explore and interact with. A special curation of young Black artists including Jade Yasmeen, Asiko, Floyd Strickland, and Solomon Omogboye was exhibited alongside two new original paintings by Micah Johnson, as well as three screenprints by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Guests will have the opportunity to view and purchase original artworks on-site.

Conceptualized by renowned creative and experiential studio MATTE Projects, the 30,000 square foot space housed a futuristic lifesize art installation of Aku’s Helmet, where guests experienced three otherworldly dimensions of Aku. The Blue Room will hosted informal panel conversations led by leaders in art, fashion, music, and blockchain technology. The Patio provided food and beverages for guests. “Aku World: Miami” also hosted an invite-only VIP opening party on Dec. 2nd with an intimate live musical performance by Kehlani.

Johnson said the event isn’t a one-off, he plans to bring Aku across the globe. “This event is going everywhere. It’s my dream to not just have an event but an amusement park, this is an experience that you can have in Europe and in Asia. As a digital explorer there are so many things that we can do,” he said.


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