With their constant aesthetic upgrades and glossed-over gaze, beautiful celebrities have often been compared to cyborgs. At this point, Kim Kardashian is practically a cybernetic invention of her own making, while Bella Hadid is following suit, smudging the line between man and machine with the release of 11,111 NFTs divided into 10 collections per city – lovingly dubbed CY-B3LLA.
Made in collaboration with reBASE, a kind of new-age Habbo Hotel, each and every piece has been modelled off Hadid’s image, with 10 artists working from a 3D scan of the model’s body. As of today, two of these NFTs have been unveiled – a bionic warrior woman for Tokyo and a bubblegum BDSM sexbot, belonging to a city that I cannot quite locate. So far, over half a million people have signed-up for one, with the ownership experience reading like a top-tier meet-and-greet scheme. Not only will people get a notification if the model is nearby IRL, but a purchase gives access to a dedicated Discord server, which Hadid will use as a low-stress tool to keep in touch with her fans, dropping in a couple of times a week.
According to an interview with Vogue, the whole thing was inspired by Hadid’s “lifelong interest in gaming”, likening herself to Princess Peach from the Mario franchise. Well aware of the “cash grab” incentive of so many NFT ventures, Hadid sees CY-B3LLA as the warden of a new community, a healthier and happier space than traditional social media platforms. “It’s not just about connecting me to people, but about connecting people to other people,” she said. “I just want to be an instrument.”