Auctionity gives an overview and analysis of the relationship between Art and Blockchain and how they interact
[TL; DR] One of the promising field of application for NFTs is the Art industry: new usages, inspiration, transparency for all parties. Let’s dive into this Art + Blockchain digest with some of our predictions for the future.
The world of non-fungible tokens is currently teeming with new projects that are going to define the future evolutions and uses of blockchain technology. When we think of NFTs, the most famous ambassadors that come to mind are probably CryptoKitties or the card game Gods Unchained. Probably because they were among the very first demonstrations of NFT. However, that would be giving a very narrow vision of the current state of the NFT industry.
Sure, most NFT projects are currently games, there are about 35 of them (the main ones), with more or less numerous communities. But the applications of NFTs go so much further than that.
Since non-fungible tokens are unique, they also bring with them the concept of scarcity but also collection. That is why they are so well-suited for CryptoKitties or anything that involves gathering and exchanging unique items, you kitty is unique (if not in appearance, at least in genome). It also allows for a very secure proof of ownership: your kitty is your kitty and no one else’s, blockchain can attest to that. With that in mind, it seems only fitting that NFTs have also conquered the world of Art where issues of ownership, authorship and rarity are very prominent.
Auctionity is currently focusing on gaming NFTs as they are the most popular and most commonly exchanged NFTs among collectors at the moment. But we are looking beyond the gaming world and also embracing the other segments of the NFT universe. That is why we are supporting digital art by setting up events such as our Creative Challenge in partnership with the Ethereum-based art platform KnownOrigin.io. We believe art 🖼 and blockchain ⛓ go together like a wink 😉 and smile 🙂.
At the moment, it is difficult to predict with certainty if the art galleries and museums of tomorrow will use blockchain, however, it seems that they are quite interested in this technology and the possibilities it offers.
As a matter of fact, 2018 has been a prolific year for blockchain and art, showcasing some great examples of synergy. For instance, the famous auction house Christie’s collaborated with the blockchain-based registry Artory to conduct a sale from the Ebsworth family collection. Thanks to the immutability allowed by blockchain technology, the provenance and other relevant information about the artworks will forever be stored on blockchain and be available for future reference by anyone who needs that kind of information.
In 2018, Christie’s also organized the first-ever sale of crypto art in a real-life saleroom. The auction was for an original piece of CryptoKitty digital art created by artist Guilherme Twardowski and sold for $140,000 (proceeds went to charity).
Record $140,000 CryptoKitty sale going to the great cause of supporting creatives working at the intersection of blockchain and art. Thanks to the bidders, @rareartlabs, @EtherealSummit, @CodexProtocol and our community. Our Kitties couldn’t be more happy. 😻 #EtherealNY pic.twitter.com/T95qU9sqEb
— CryptoKitties (@CryptoKitties) 13 mai 2018
We are seeing more and more events where blockchain and art meet. In December 2018, the Art Basel Miami Beach promoted nearly a dozen different panels on art and blockchain. Many of these discussions took place in venues surrounded by crypto-themed artwork from various artists.
The prestigious Russian gallery Tretyakov is also interested by blockchain’s potential. At the end of 2018, they launched “My Tretyakov“, a project using blockchain technology and allowing individuals or companies to make a private donation to contribute to the digitalization of an item and then manage art collections.
Last week, it has been announced that the first blockchain art gallery collection was live on Artsy, an art collection platform backed by investors such as Google’s Eric Schmidt, Chris Dixon, and Peter Thiel.
An Andy Warhol artwork called « Fourteen Small Electric Chairs » was sold at auction with crypto-currencies. The painting was tokenized and sold as digital certificates, allowing investors to buy a fraction of the iconic artwork, so that anyone with a little bit of money could own a piece from a Warhol.
Blockchain technology is giving inspiration to the art world. Not only this technology can protect artists by certifying authenticity or helping artists to profit more from their creative artworks. It’s also a new exciting source of inspiration!
There were also some other initiatives that brought art into the crypto world. A couple of months ago, for example, a crypto-art puzzle was invented by Marguerite deCourcelles. It was not her first creation as she started the Bitcoin-art-puzzle phenomenon in 2014 with a painting called Dark Wallet Puzzle depicting two leading crypto anarchists, and indeed a key was hidden in the painting.
Last month, another crypto-art puzzle competition was launched in France. A street artist painted a fresco in Paris with 0.26 BTC included in it as a prize (valuing $1000 early January 2019). Less than a week was enough for someone to solve it.
Blockchain and crypto provide inspiration to artists: fours years ago, Sarah Meyohas launched an art project called Bitchcoin, probably one of the first forms of artistic art expression exploring the cryptocurrency world. Last month, VESA, who describes himself as a blockchain artist, was inspired by the recent crypto winter and the two main forces at war: the bull and the bear.
Do not think that those examples are anecdotal. Blockchain is fostering the emergence of a new generation of artistic content. Just google Kevin Abosch, Ai Weiwei, Trevor Jones, Jonas Lund, Jessica Anges or Nanu Berks, etc. and see for yourself. Also, how about checking out the Crypto-Art series for the best and latest crypto artworks.
From left to right: ‘ Untitled Mining Installation by Peter Frölich‘, ‘The Last (Bitcoin) Supper‘ by French artist You, ‘The size of the holes’, by Kevin Abosch
All in all, the reality is that blockchain is deeply changing digital art. Blockchain technology makes it possible to track the reproduction and versioning of an artwork, which was difficult to do accurately up to now. With Non-Fungible Tokens, you can control scarcity, decide if you want to create a unique and original version of an object or make a series of it while being able to track all the versions. You could also decide to fraction your creation into different pieces.
Art is also becoming more and more accessible for buyers. Once reserved to the elites who collected art for its esthetic qualities or as an investment, art is becoming more of something everyone can afford. The emphasis is now placed on investment rather than pure esthetic qualities.
With fractional ownership, people can buy a part of an artwork with other buyers. Imagine how easy it is now to boast at a dinner party about the piece of Banksy you own. This opens the art market to a new kind of investors who would never have been able to afford art otherwise. The esthetic aspect is now less important too, as these new investors don’t buy art with a view to hang it on wall. If more buyers enter the art market, this means that there could be even more sales of traditional and digital art in the future. The art market seems to know only one way at the moment and it’s up.
More than the investment side of things, people are also more open than ever to the concept of digital art (as this new Digital Art Museum in Tokyo suggests). Especially with the new ability to create digital scarcity thanks to blockchain technology.
Be it with traditional or digital art however, blockchain technology has a lot to offer to enhance the buying and selling process. Especially when it comes to auctions, a frequent medium for art sales. When selling a masterpiece at auction, or any type of art for that matter, authenticity and ownership are always central issues. In a recent article, Jacqueline O’Neill sums up all these questions and explains that blockchain is indeed good news for art:
“Blockchain is driving innovations in the automation, interoperability, security, and accessibility of data from transactions and records. The major use cases we’ll see develop from blockchain technology are authentication and provenance tracking, smart asset management, and tokenization and fractionalization of ownership”
— Jacqueline O’Neill in Where The Art World Is Heading In 2019
There are many experimentations being conducted by promising startups such as KnownOrigin, Dada.nyc or SuperRare, exploring the uses of blockchain technology in the art world. These are clues showing that the world is becoming more open than ever to the concept of digital art, especially with our new ability to create digital scarcity, and this, thanks to blockchain technology. These days, companies are experimenting with the digital art space — and not just in creating art. Indeed, check out all the great stuff KnownOrigin does for rare digital artwork and see for yourself.
At the moment, there are still several barriers to blockchain’s impeding massive adoption. But they will be overcome. The more buyers, investors and people of all backgrounds become interested in blockchain and art, the wider adoption will be in the future.
We are just at the beginning of a new era for art and we are sure to see some changes in how art is created, consumed and traded. At Auctionity, we do believe that art is the most promising industry for blockchain applications and massive adoption. Rest assured that Auctionity will play an important part in the integration of blockchain into the Art market. The way we aim to do that is by using blockchain to solve some of the art’s current issues and bring to life new usages.