WYNWOOD ARTS CENTER
BRAND & EXPERIENTIAL
ART BASEL PATRONS
In Partnership with
Former MLB player Micah Johnson is one of the top players in the NFT space.
The athlete-turned-digital artist has won numerous awards, been named among Fortune’s 50 most influential people in NFTs, and has art sales totalling over $19 million. Aku is a young boy who lives out his dreams of becoming an astronaut and exploring the metaverse. Johnson conceived the character as a means of breaking down societal stereotypes when he overheard his nephew ask, “Can astronauts be black?” As Aku became cemented in the imaginations of an ever-growing community of fans, Johnson wanted to provide a way for them to connect with the digital explorer more tangibly than ever before.
The event was presented in partnership with cryptocurrency exchange FTX US, and through a three-day activation at Art Basel Miami 2021, fans stepped into Aku’s story, discovered his world, and engaged and interacted with the character on a whole new level.
With creative developed jointly between Johnson and Matte Projects, PHNTM utilized its core competencies of digital and physical production, content creation, web and interactive development, scenic fabrication, lighting, and environmental projection.
The result was a space where Johnson’s artwork manifested in ways it never had before, and Aku’s debut was celebrated as a high point of Art Basel.
PHNTM had free rein to implement this one-of-a-kind activation within 30,000 square feet of Miami’s Wynwood Arts 29.
Melding the digital and the physical, the space housed a massive replica of Aku’s helmet, an NFT art gallery, a limited edition retail space, and an elite 4D-scanning workshop where guests built and minted custom avatars as NFTs.
A. HELMET ROOM
The main event hall featured a 12’ Aku helmet surrounded by an immersive projection mapped environment inspired by Aku’s world.
This main hall also served as the primary entertainment space within the venue, hosting unique performances throughout the weekend.
B. SUBWAY ROOM
Guests entered the experience through a futuristic subway car inspired by Aku World: Chapter II, where they were prompted to create an FTX wallet before entering the rest of the exhibit.
This created an in-world engagement point to amplify awareness of the event’s title sponsor.
c. MINTING ROOM
In partnership with Ready Player Me, this minting room allowed users to create personalized avatars.
Via custom coding, these avatars populated digital environments inspired by Aku’s world. Final videos were minted into NFTs by FTX.
Sponsored by Visa and In partnership with Anam XR, digital merch assets were meticulously sculpted in 3D, including wind and tether simulations, to create dynamic and high production value assets for display on PORTL holographic boxes.
e. GALLERY ROOM
d. MERCH ROOM
Guests could easily purchase physical merch through the kiosks while also receiving unique digital tokens.
Inspired by Aku’s blue word, this gallery showcased Micah’s multimedia portfolio: from physical canvases to digital NFTs. The space also hosted eclectic guest speakers.
Aku's story was furthered by a special collection of young Black artists, curated by Art Angels, including Jade Yasmeen, Asiko, Floyd Strickland, and Solomon Omogboye - all exhibited alongside two original paintings by Micah Johnson, as well as three exclusive screen prints by Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Far from your traditional exhibition experience, Aku’s World was complimented by a host of progressive musicians, special guest speakers and artists.
This exciting, discovery-packed weekend of multimedia programming included appearances from Push-T, Jerome LaMaar, Kehlani, Aleali May, AJ Mitchell, Haleek Maul, Savannah James, Matt James, Rached Kirkconnell, Jackson Myles, Yasmine Petty, Kah-Lo and Micah Johnson himself.
These additional opportunities for engagement strengthened the growing community around the Aku brand while bridging the physical and virtual worlds.
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