Animating the Culture of Cryptography [Interview with Ivan Sokolov of Tokenville]


It’s tough enough using alien terminology to try and describe blockchain, and the accompanying visuals don’t help that much either. Unless you bought Bitcoin back in 2015, words like “cryptography” and endless diagrams of webbed networks are enough to instantly turn-off potential newcomers. The crypto space has thus far been weighed down by its bland and textureless character.

Ivan Sokolov, creator of Tokenville, sought to change that exact quality of the ecosystem, first composing the webseries Deus ETH then quickly expanding to an entire network platform with several crypto-inspired shows in the pipeline. These animated creations are the most compelling representations of today’s crypto culture and in themselves embody some of the possibilities of blockchain tokenization. Today, we had a chance to chat with Ivan about the origins and mission of the channel.

The Creative Crypto: Thank you for joining us Ivan! Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.


I spent two years in therapy to come to terms with my background in all its diversity. I was never going in a straight line. Art has always been a leitmotif of my life. I started exploring the world through music and finished high school playing jazz saxophone. Then I spent a few years in the art world, with my first exhibition when I was 18 called “Emotions in Si”. It wasn’t very big and consisted of curious installations and video artworks, but all this formed a great part of my personality. After testing myself in miscellaneous artistic activities, I found my first vocation in film directing. For almost 5 years, I directed small commercial films, two of which received a Cannes Corporate Media and TV Award.

CC: How did you get into blockchain?


I joined one fintech startup as a creative director. That’s how a new part of me was born, and it was an organic switch from film direction to product management. Eventually, I found myself in blockchain after joining another cryptocurrency startup. My creative background started calling me back. First, it was just gentle whispers, then it was a crisis. It took a lot of energy to assemble my experience into something that would combine innovations, finance, and art, but that winding path led me to what I’m doing now.

CC: Tell us about your process creating Deus ETH.


I made my first notes about a lottery-style survival show back in October 2017. Then we developed a small “trailer”, which I pitched to a few investors at BlockShow Asia in November as a sort of elevator pitch. As a result, I was granted the green light to start the project and the development began. We even patented the mechanics of the show. Our innovation was focused on generating narrative storylines with smart contracts.

Then the boom of collectibles veered our perfect idea of a beautiful collaboration between the blockchain and the artist. Everyone was crazy about buying NFTs. It helped us sell all of our tokenized heroes in just a few hours, but plenty of buyers didn’t care much about the story, which was paramount for us.

Comics have a lot in common with cryptocurrencies in their history. There was a comic bubble in the 90s when collectibles were super popular, but a lot of people were disappointed with this form of media when it burst… We have a lot to learn from its history and the comic industry really needs some disruption.

I really encourage you to take a look into the world of Deus ETH. It is not an ad, as the show is already finished. We were creating episodes on the go, as we had no idea who would survive – in every episode the smart contract randomly selected several characters doomed to die. We also experimented with content formats a lot. I can talk about every episode and its background for hours. Even though Deus ETH is far from being perfect from a visual art and storytelling point of view, it encapsulates a lot of our artistic reflections and our personal creative perspective of the blockchain community.

For example, in the 3rd episode, we had an audio play with me playing as Nao. According to the story, Nao is almost dying and some creature is ready to help him. This creature is an investor. Just take a few minutes to listen to the dialogue and you’ll see that the characters sound really familiar.

All these episodes were developed in-house and we were delivering 2 episodes per week. I created a few piano pieces as an OST and I am totally proud seeing the season finished, as sometimes it was quite hard to move forward.

CC: And Tokenville? Why did you decide to produce an entire channel itself? What has the response from the community been?


Tokenville is not actually a channel. It is a creative environment for talented individuals willing to express their ideas through innovations. We’ve had a great response from the artistic community and we’ve decided to help it explore blockchain as a medium. Now we are focused on creating some show formats that later can be used, box-fresh, by stand-alone artists. And we want Tokenville to become something like Hollywood, but on the blockchain. Actually, it already is, as it is possible to sell a picture of a virtual cat for $140,000. So more and more people are dreaming of joining some kind of revolution, supporting their work and making their own art. We are helping them in this effort.

CC: What are some of your favorite sub-projects/shows?


Right now, I am spending most of my time developing the Crypto Detective, a show we are working on together with CryptoKitties. Two talented comic artists from our team are involved in this project and I really want to see it grow. We still have a lot of things to figure out, as we’re still working on the mechanics of the show, but I am sure that we’ll do something new. We’d like to focus on comics for some time as I think this content is good for native internet media and it’s much cheaper to produce. I am currently reading a lot of comic books and I am proud to be involved in the development of this “invisible” art form. Comics have a lot in common with cryptocurrencies in their history. There was a comic bubble in the 90s when collectibles were super popular, but a lot of people were disappointed with this form of media when it burst. Doesn’t it sound familiar? We have a lot to learn from its history and the comic industry really needs some disruption.

CC: Tell us about the TV token and what your roadmap is for development and use.


TV token is just an interface for all the shows. Working on Deus ETH, we figured out that our “viewers” want some long-term investments, not just a lottery ticket. It’s obvious that our tokenized characters were the worst investment, as they were actually dying. We had to create some sort of a bridge between all the shows. That’s why we decided to create a business entity powered by the utility token. We believe that, with every show, its capitalization will grow. We also need this token to fund upcoming shows. Basically, we are just using common cryptocurrency practices in our business model.

As you know, TV token is listed on HitBTC exchange and we hope it will be listed in some wallets as well.

CC: How can people learn more and get involved?


First of all take some time to understand what we are. We are somehow different. DM me on Twitter or find me on our Discord server if you need any guidance. And tell my mom I’m doing something meaningful.

Thank you Ivan for joining us! Be sure to follow the links below for new updates, new shows, and new creative content from the Tokenville team. And finally, to Mrs. Ivan’s Mother, don’t worry as Ivan is doing something meaningful!

Name: Tokenville

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