red and black swirl background with a cartoon of a man with one screw eye, wearing a multicoloured jacket, a gold necklace and blonde braids

Special cover created by LUX for The Futures, Summer 2022.

A new NFT project is promising to help offset the environmental impact caused by these digital assets, by creating a carbon-neutral collection in collaboration with sustainability charities. The artist behind The Futures, Kensho Kenji, talks us through the project. By Chris Stokel-Walker

Despite being one of the most in-vogue investments, NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are being lambasted for their carbon footprint. The average NFT has a voracious impact on the environment, which means investing in them can often cause a crisis of conscience, as well as a question of how much you’re willing to risk financially. But it doesn’t need to be that way.

A cartoon head of a man wearing a red hat and a man with a head of a bear leaning on a piano in a room

Kensho Kenji and Moses Open Sea

A new NFT collection promises to be carbon neutral, while helping educate people about our planet, making difficult decisions that help ensure a sustainable and transparent future.

The Futures is the brainchild of a contemporary artist who goes by the pseudonym Kensho Kenji. He has operated in the NFT space since 2020, and worked with some of the world’s biggest artistic institutions over the past 15 years. “I always had the thought of creating a new hybrid brand that operates in the real world and in the metaverse, which can further the understanding of the real potential behind an NFT project,” he says.

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The Futures began about six months ago when Kenji took a notepad and jotted down three words: earth, education and community. These three pillars are the building blocks of The Futures project, which has now ballooned to a staff of 12. It provides profile pictures (PFPs) – a core part of the NFT landscape – to users, but couples it with a crash course on how the NFT space operates, and what it means for our world.

A cartoon of a man with one screw eye, wearing a multicoloured jacket, a gold necklace and blonde braids

The first real life Futures event will be taking place in September 2022 in Monaco

“The idea was to really focus on the planet,” Kenji explains. “The most important thing for me was how to link the digital and physical worlds together.” The Futures is using its digital arm to help the physical world, by starting with a collection of 5,000, one-of-a-kind 2D avatars. The art is disruptive and each Futures avatar has a unique sense of style and set of traits: characters who represent a new generation of our physical-digital (or ‘phygital’) culture. They also double as a membership card to this members-only world. The co-founder, known as Moses OpenSea, comments: “We will be the first iconic phygital brand seamlessly merging our physical and digital lives.”

Each NFT that’s created – or ‘minted’ – will be offset environmentally by the planting of two real trees. The project, meanwhile, has a three-year goal of spending cash on reforestation with the charity Tree-Nation, alongside boosting marine life sustainably via planned donations to the Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco.

Blue and black swirl background with a cartoon of a man in a brown jacket and wearing an earing

Special cover created by LUX for The Futures, Summer 2022.

Those who own an NFT from The Futures will receive ownership of an FTRS capsule, accessed from the FTRS Tower, a metaverse-based experience designed by a renowned architect who uses the pseudonym Vasco Pomerol, that will also act as a digital meeting space. The tower includes a meditation garden, an amphitheatre, and a retail environment. But it’s not just in the digital space that members will interact: real-world meet-ups will begin this year. “We’ve expanded this whole concept into building a brand that is active in both the digital and real world,” says Kenji. “We want to have a strong identity in the real world; and a strong identity in the metaverse.”

Read more: Marina Abramović: The Artist As Survivalist

It’s all focused on making sure that, in the pursuit of NFTs as the next big thing, we don’t lose track of the big picture. “A project of this nature focuses on bringing a positive effect to our planet,” says Kenji. “At the end of the day, if our planet is messed up, what’s the point of doing these NFT projects to begin with?

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This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX