Where Basels Meet Blockchain: A Marriage of Art and Technology
Beeple, Everydays: The First 5000 Days, 2021. Image courtesy of Christie’s, all rights reserved, © 2022

By Lucy Hasani,

The Art Industry has managed to remain relatively distant from the invasions of the Tech world, up until now… A new epoch defined by NFT’s, blockchain and crypto currency is shaping the way in which art is experienced and purchased, creating exciting prospects for dealers and buyers alike. 

Buying into the Blockchain…

One area which has proved successful in the art industry is the use of blockchain platforms to facilitate the provenance and authenticity of art collecting, one of the largest issues in the industry. Tokenization, through the use of blockchain, allows for digital tokens to be issued and assigned to a physical asset. Each token is a unique sequence of numbers that is unable to be copied once created, however can be transferred from person to person. In this way blockchain’s decentralized list of records allows for provenance and a verification of authenticity, leading to more transparent and efficient online art markets.

Blockchain based platforms also have the potential to reduce barriers to entry for investments in premium art pieces. Collectors are now able to buy and trade shares of high quality artworks, expanding the market and its demographic with reduced risk and cost. For example, Maecenas Fine Art, an art investment platform uses blockchain to allow users to invest in fragments of blue chip artworks, liquefying the market and diversifying portfolios. Buyers, as well as artists, can connect directly with sellers to avoid high brokerage fees and establish a new approach to patronage.

Image courtesy of Maecenas, all rights reserved, © 2022

A Concern for Crypto…

For most of us crypto art and NFTs can be seen as uncharted territory, generating unfamiliar feelings around the idea of art as pixelations on a screen. Our interest in this domain was however sparked with Christie’s sixty-nine million dollar sale of an NFT by Beeple in March 2021. Catalyzing a newfound interest in digital art, this sale paved the way for many like minded visionaries able to bridge the gap between an unknown world of digital scarcity and conventional art markets.

Beeple, Everydays: The First 5000 Days, 2021. Image courtesy of Christie’s, all rights reserved, © 2022

Created through blockchain transactions, each NFT is permanently assigned to a unique work of art which is digitally signed by the artist representing ownership and authenticity. Usually such works of art are concerned with consumer culture and the alignment that this has had within the world of technological advancement. This type of art has brought about a phygital utopia which indulges in the distributive nature of artworks and frees itself from the tendencies of traditional galleries. With direct contact between buyers and sellers, crypto art allows for emerging artists to market their own works and eliminate the need for a middle man, maximizing profits as well as speed of transactions.

However, environmental concerns have risen in regards to the process of minting NFTs, which uses a process that results in high greenhouse gas emissions. In response to this, energy efficient blockchain platforms have entered the market which use a Proof of Stake concept to achieve the same result. An example of this is Tezos, which was featured at last year’s Miami Art Basel and centered around a climate-conscious approach to crypto.

The Art of A.I. 

The desire to pursue a new intangible art space has led to an A.I. backed revival of the industry, redefining the role of the artist in a contemporary society. The meta-tool, DALL-E 2, uses text to image generation to bring modern interpretations to Dali or Vermeer with unprecedented accuracy. Being able to awaken these classical narratives with new ideals creates a visual representation of the cultural shifts currently happening, which contemporary art in itself aims to capture. Although this type of digital art has clashed with the artisan techniques of current creatives, it also provides an opportunity for progress. In the same way photography necessitated a new form of abstract art to invoke feelings that a camera couldn’t, digital art will demand the same. The role of the current artist is to decipher what that is, delving into untapped spaces of a vast world of art.

Image courtesy of The Verge, all rights reserved, © 2022

As different industries strive for a new awakening, art is certainly not behind. The alignment of art with technology has allowed for great innovation at its forefront, while advancing the relationship between art and sustainability. NFTs and blockchain all become puzzle pieces to a bigger picture, one that forces art out of its shell and into new areas of progression, offering chances for collaboration and growth.

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