K-pop fans need no introduction to Henry Lau. Lau has been forging his name in South Korea's music scene for over a decade.
After debuting in 2008 with Super Junior-M, the Chinese sub-unit of the Korean boy band Super Junior, Lau released his first solo album in 2013. Since then, he has built his reputation not only as a musician but as a prominent TV personality. Although he’s known as a pop star, he was trained as a classical violinist as a child. His talents range from vocals to violin to dance – and now art.
Last year, Lau broke into the international art scene by exhibiting his work at the Saatchi Gallery in London.
During an interview with the BBC, Lau explained that all his work at the Saatchi was created through an art form called pendulum painting, which utilizes paint, motion and gravity to create hypnotic images that seem to illustrate the laws of physics.
In December 2021, Lau indicated to CoinDesk Korea that he was working on an NFT launch. I met with him in Miami that same month to discuss the project in more detail. Lau and I were both in town for Art Basel as well as events hosted by Origin Protocol, the platform on which Lau will launch his NFTs. Origin also held a private exhibition for its NFT creators and VIP guests during Art Basel week.
Lau was born in 1989, only three years after me, but he looks a good 10 years younger than I am. He could go to any town in midwestern America and claim to be a college student without any suspicion. Lau often appears on TV as someone overflowing with enthusiasm and silly antics. True, he does carry himself with a certain buoyancy, and he injects his words with energy every time he speaks. But overall, he's much more relaxed in person – at least he was on this day.
"I was only recently introduced to this new channel – this new technology – known as NFTs," he says, pulling my smartphone towards him to make sure the recording comes out sound.
"Everybody around me seemed to be getting into it, and when I saw other artists drop their own NFTs, it made me curious. So I started doing my own research and looking into it."
As he speaks, Lau seems to get more excited about the topic. His eyes show sparks of intensity and inspiration.
"I'm a musician, so I'm always looking for new ways to express myself, to perform. And with this new technology, the possibilities are endless."
I ask for some examples of how NFTs could enhance his work as an artist and musician. Lau describes a concert where he could interact with a million people at one time – or 10 million. Or just one or two people. All in the metaverse, which frees people from geographic and political limitations. Lau sees the metaverse as a place of infinite potential, where people of all backgrounds and nationalities can gather with complete freedom.
He could interact with one fan from the US and one fan from Asia in the same space at the same time. Those fans could then interact with each other in a way that would be impossible in the physical world.
"Let's say I'm performing in a metaverse concert. I could instantly change into a different set of clothes, or completely transform the lighting. I could basically do anything."
Lau elaborates by saying there aren't many Asians artists in the NFT space right now, so he sees it as an opportunity to become a pioneer and industry leader. He wants to inspire other Asian artists to follow him into the metaverse.
The conversation flows back to the metaverse's freedom from geographic and physical limitations.
"If I exhibit my paintings in the metaverse, it allows more people to interact with them than if I were to exhibit them in a physical gallery."
I ask him about how he plans to interact with his fans through his upcoming NFT drop, but he explains that it's still a work in progress.
"I can't offer too many specific details now, but I'm a musician so there's definitely going to be music there, as well as art."
Lau is mainly a musician, but he says he's always been interested in art. He chose to express himself through pendulum painting because it's a medium that allows him to turn the act of painting into a performance.
I ask Lau if he's into crypto at all, but he admits that he's just been introduced to NFTs and crypto, and that it's all relatively new to him. He stresses that as an artist he's more interested in NFTs rather than cryptocurrency or decentralized finance.
"Right now, my focus isn't on the currency or the financial side of NFTs. I'm just focused on the metaverse and what I can do **to connect more with my fans through NFTs** in the crypto world as an artist."
So why Origin? Lau says he likes what Origin has done with its other artists. He thinks they allow artists to maximize their individual identity and voice, as opposed to shoving them all under a single universal brand. He likes the idea of their Stories, which allow artists to use Origin's technology to launch their NFTs on their own website.
"I've been following a lot of their artists for a long time. Ryan Tedder's a big inspiration of mine. I feel like they really empower their artists."
I ask him what he has planned for the future. Although we don't get into any specifics, Lau goes back to this idea of the metaverse being limitless. He's excited about what’s ahead. He's ecstatic to see what kind of work he can do with NFTs.
"I feel like I can do something that's never been done before."
This article was originally featured at Digitally Yours,. Digitally Yours, introduces notable NFT artworks.
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