The notion of “crypto art” is still a vague concept to many, but it is a development that we should pay close attention to.
We are still in the midst of an ongoing digital revolution where as a species we are learning about what it means for something to be digital and how we should relate to that.
At first, anything digital was perceived as representation, a copy of something ‘real’. However, with the advent of blockchain technology it became possible to prevent ‘digital assets’ from being copied, double spent, and instead for the first time in the history of the internet, this capability of issuing unique virtual assets gave rise to thousands of cryptocurrencies and in 2020 we saw another big growth-spurt in the form of art.
How Is Crypto Art Valued?
Crypto artworks are digital in nature, and just as any digital image they can be copied endlessly without degradation. The pricing, transfer and determination of ownership of any particular artwork, however, are achieved with the help of Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs.
The reason why NFTs are so important is because they allow for uniqueness. Just as in the ordinary artworld, an original Picasso is worth more than a printed sample of the same painting. In the virtual world, you can of course ‘copy’ any crypto artwork, but without also holding the NFT you cannot sell or claim any rights to it.
The value is of course dependent on the quality and popularity of the artwork in question, but the numbers are not a joke. Just two weeks ago, CoinDesk reported that token-based art sales hit $8.2 million in December, compared to $2.6 million in November, 2020.
Here are some examples of crypto artworks
What’s the Significance of Crypto Art?
We believe this development in the art world and the crypto space will have a lasting impact on the creative arts industry.
We should not forget that ever since the birth of the commercial internet, the creative arts have been under pressure. Remember when music could be freely downloaded (or stolen) and shared on Napster? With the rise of NFT-anchored artworks, it will be easier to address questions around copyright and royalties.
It’s also relevant from a community perspective. Crypto art is bringing together artists from all over the world. The space is wide open to anyone who’s willing to jump in, learn, and try out new things. Conversations are cropping up in virtual locations like Cent (a Facebook-like social media blogging platform on the blockchain), in virtual conferences over Instagram Live, Twitch, and Crowdcast, and on messaging apps like Discord and Telegram.
Interestingly, this new endeavour also provides a way to rethink art and economies of art. A good example of this is provided by Dada.art who experiments with collaborative art-making and financial mechanisms to reward effort and cooperation. It is also notable that these artists are making use of VR and AR-technologies and conducting all types of experimentations with tech.
It takes time
Of course, it may take some time before this sector of the crypto industry will go mainstream or be taken serious by “elite art critics”. However, the crypto community is defined by continuous innovation and known for pushing the boundaries beyond what we generally hold to be true.