The art market is booming again. This is good news, but many collectors and investors of works of art face rising prices and difficult access to high-quality works of art. On the other hand, artists face problems such as registering and protecting the copyrights of their works. Meanwhile, the emerging technology of the blockchains has been able to make changes in the field of buying, selling, and trading works of art as well as creating and enjoying them, which were unimaginable before the entry of blockchains into this space.
After the emergence of blockchain technology, it quickly took its place in the field of art and made works of art more accessible by changing the methods and approaches to creating and understanding them. This has created new opportunities for collectors, art galleries, museums, art dealers, and artists. In this article, we examine the position of blockchains in the art field, and we will mention some benefits of using blockchains in art by looking at what has been achieved so far from combining these two areas.
History of blockchain technology in art
Projects such as CryptoKitties and CryptoPunks were among the first examples of blockchain visual art. The combination of blockchain technology and art is not only used to record and collect data on works of art but can also be a center for creative artists around the world.
Cryptocurrencies, a game based on the Ethereum blockchain, allows players to buy, breed and sell virtual cats.
The Scarab project is another example. The Scarab Experiment society is made up of a group of artists working on a combination of different art technologies. Launched in 2014, the Scrub project is a versatile avatar that uses artificial intelligence technology for image processing to create a single work of art from thousands of captured images. To participate in this project, you have to register and submit a work of art and receive a scrub token in return. With this token, you will become a member of the Scrub community and, as a user of this association, you will have the right to vote in the final selection of works of art.
In recent years, some platforms have been increasingly developed that provide collectors and artists with services for registering and licensing galleries. When a work of art is recorded on the blockchain platform, its details (such as history and physical features) are stored in a digital general ledger on a specified schedule. In this way, artistic data will be more accessible for verification and identification and will not be replaceable in the future.
In the art world, these blockchain-based platforms guarantee the benefit of both artists and art buyers. The artist legally owns the artwork and receives the income from its sale.
Another example is Maecenas, a text-based blockchain platform that provides access to fine art in a democratic way and allows investors to purchase works of art. This platform receives only 2% commission; Just compare these figures with the 20% fee that auctioneers usually receive.
Blockchains in online auction houses
The AllPublicArt platform was launched in 2015, aiming to expand online art sales. Explaining the importance of selling works of art online, we can refer to the report of the insurance company, Hiscox Ltd., which wrote:
“The online art market is growing at an annual rate of 24% and is expected to reach $9.58 billion by 2020.”
On the Alpublic Art platform, any artist can publish their work in exchange for native tokens, APA, and earn profits independently of their market sales.
In November 2018, the British auction house, Christie’s, made history by launching a pilot service for registering and encrypting works of art using blockchain technology. In this project, which took place in New York at the auction house of Barney Ebsworth, the Christie’s auction house partnered with Artory Art Registration to provide a digital license to sell a $300 million collection of works of art. The sale included works by Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper.
Blockchain-based art and charity foundations
The Foundation for Art and Blockchain was created to publish information about the art and technology of blockchain. The foundation aims to support artists who pay attention to one of the most prominent technologies of the century, blockchain. The foundation was launched in May 2018 by Codex Protocol company and Rare Art Labs in collaboration with the Ethereal Summit and sold the most expensive CryptoKitties and other blockchain-based works of art.
The foundation’s first project was the Dogethereum Bridge, a public art initiative that enhances collaboration between communities and technology.
Blockchain and fashion
In 2019, the world’s first digital fashion work, Iridescence, was auctioned off to a charity on a blockchain and sold for $9,500 in support of the Foundation for Art and Blockchain.
This virtual dress was created by the digital fashion house Fabricant, a Dutch startup. Startup Fabricant specializes in designing and animating 3D clothing in the style of photorealism. The basis of Iridescence clothing is a two-dimensional computer model that has been transformed into a three-dimensional model using the Techgnosis filter.
Immortality of riddle of the ” Paris Bitcoin” mural
In early 2020, French cryptographer and muralist Pascal Boyart painted a mural and hid $1,000 bitcoin in it. One month later, local authorities censored the work and covered it with gray color.
The painting depicted the French protest group “Yellow Vest Movement” in a reinterpretation of “Liberty Leading the People” by Eugene Delacroix. It was certainly a political statement, but people interested in art and digital currencies strongly oppose censorship of such works. Bnoiit.C, founder, and director of the Museum of Crypto Art, uses blockchain technology to make encrypted artwork almost uncensored and untouchable. Within a week, Bnoiit C. created 30 Parisian Boyart murals in Cryptovoxels, an Ethereum-based virtual world, and users were even able to own part of it.
Cryptovoxels is based on a very simple idea. This platform is a virtual world like Microsoft and consists of several blocks in which land ownership is tracked and traded using the Ethereum blockchain. Users can buy land, build on it, and then sell it. Also, any asset in Crypto Castle can be sold as a non-fungible token (NFT) or, as Bnoiit C. interpreted it in an interview with the Hard Fork website:
“[Each token] is a unique digital asset that cannot be copied because it is registered on the blockchain.”
At Cryptovoxels you can own land, build a building and buy and sell it.
In other words, everyone can see who owns what in the virtual world by referring to the blockchain. Cryptovoxels assets, including land and artwork, can be traded on OpenSea, a digital asset market for collectibles. This museum is a place to display and promote the work of artists who have created pieces of art inspired by cryptography. Bnoiit C. continued in his interview:
“Physical art can be censored just like digital art, such as closing a website. But cryptographic art cannot be manipulated. No one can rewrite what is recorded in the blockchain.”
In the case of politically motivated art, blockchain technology may be the only way to resist censorship and the passage of time.
$1 million-worth artistic collaboration using blockchain
In 2019, artist Frankie Aguilar began working with KnownOrigin, an Ethereum-based marketplace, to experiment with a $1 million-worth work of art using blockchain technology by summer 2020.
This new investment and strategic partnership marked the first digital authentication license in KnownOrigin and replaced the traditional signed paper documents that are often used by galleries and artists to verify ownership of works. In March 2020, Aguilar held a great event in his gallery on the 9thgalleryarts website to showcase his pop art with a Las Vegas theme.
The artist has recently opened a new studio gallery where he produces and sells physical artwork. Aguilar has always been fascinated by the combination of digital art and physical art, which has made his project unique. This event, which includes 10 works of art each week, is a personal art show in which a multi-disciplinary artist with a special design and artistic approach posts videos on YouTube.
Benzin at the fair
The Virtual group exhibition called “Pure Form: Geometric Abstraction in Blockchain Art” by Hans Benzin, curated by Melinda Wang was held at the super rare Gallery on the Cryptovoxels platform from December 3, 2019, to January 31, 2020. During this time, the 12 artists who presented their work demonstrated a new concept of abstraction, using state-of-the-art technology on a platform that combined the creation, visitation, and commerce of perfectly transparent works of art. Each work of art is a digital collection, a digital work that is protected by cryptography and tracked through blockchain.
Also in 2019, international consulting firms such as Deloitte began offering services in the art market using a blockchain-based art platform, which was established in April 2019 in the Russian part of the company.
From the pioneer blockchain-based art to the tokenizing of assets and the registration of decentralized property rights, blockchain technology has brought innovations to space. Blockchain technology not only enables control of the distribution of digital assets but also records important information about the creator and owner of the work while increasing market access for investors.