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My 2 Satoshi: What to Expect from Blockchain Art

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”My 2-Satoshi” are thought-provoking letters to the audience of The Creative Crypto, submitted from readers and makers from around the world. These are designed to strike up new conversations, new practices, and open up new opportunities for creative minds to enter a decentralized future. If you would like to submit a letter of your own, please contact us at hello[@]thecreativecrypto.com.

Dear Readers of The Creative Crypto,

Blockchain at its core is an information system. We saw this diversify with the first generation of cryptocurrencies and decentralized applications, dealing with the information of value, the information of governance, and of course, the information of information. So it’s of no surprise to see first forays into the art sector concerned primarily with the information of art.

The first major “art” blockchain systems are marketplaces, taking advantage of the immutable quality of blockchains to secure ownership and experiment with more distributed profit models. Provenance, authenticity, and secured value protocols have already proven blockchain’s significant and increasing contributions to protecting the equity of art. Even in the last year, we’ve seen major advancements in the realms of both physical and digital assets as platforms like Codex and RARE come online.

However, although the foundation of finance and information is being decentralized, we have yet to see significant attempts to use that decentralization itself to fuel a new category or categories of creative work. Put more plainly, we’re just putting old art on new tech instead of making new art with new tech. And putting art made in a traditionally centralized way on decentralized platforms is leaving much to be desired. As such, most of the design and aesthetic work we’ve seen from the first forays of artists into the space have been limited to representations that have only a partial or auxiliary relationship with any blockchain technology. They show, narrate, caricature, and even orchestrate bits about blockchain, but very little of what we’ve seen so far actually uses blockchain.

There are a few key exceptions that illustrate this lesser explored domain. De Filippi’s Plantoid is a series of “self-propagating” sculptures that take in and distribute Bitcoin donations to artists around the world, supplying instructions for installment alongside the funds needed to execute the work. On a platform level, Dada’s digital canvas is a massive artistic game of ‘Telephone’ and both maintains and monetizes the collaborative body of drawings that are held together by Ethereum’s infrastructure. These initiatives simply would not exist without blockchain technology

And as creative practitioners become more generally aware and motivated by the possibilities of these technologies, we’ll witness a great rise in the number of experimental projects. We’ll see reactive aesthetics, autonomous generative work, crypto-crowdsourced spaces and structures, and whole compounds of innovation on limitless platforms. It will likely take a few cycles of attempts before we shake off the tethers from our creative process, ones that assumed a very expected mode of production in the creative world. We have new paradigms now, ones that might completely undo the need for client-based relationships or cultural institutions that support global work in the most obscure ways.

I’m quite excited for this future, and those are my 2-Satoshi,

Michael Lee, Director of Operations at Sndbox

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