The work is sold exclusively digitally as a JPEG with a resolution of 21,069 by 21,069 pixels and a “Non-fungible Token” (NFT). NFTs are based on blockchain technology and give the winning bidder ownership of the artwork without question.
Read more: Blockchain is useful for a lot more than just Bitcoin
NFT artworks are becoming a serious business. Last year, Beeple made US$3.5 million on an NFT auction.
The entry into this domain by a global auction house such as Christie’s may be a turning point for blockchain technology. It could become a widely used tool to maintain and transform digital art markets.
It’s not as new as you think.
The digital artwork Ever Blossoming Life by teamLab. teamLab
Christie’s says that the sale of every day marks the first major auction house to offer -only digital work. Christie’s has sold digital artworks before. These include videos (such as Ryan Trecartin’s A Family Finds Entertainment from 2013) and software installations (such as teamLab’s Ever Blossoming Life – Gold from 2018).
These were often accompanied by physical items, like certificates of authenticity and fancy hard drives that housed the digital files. A NFT accompanies the image file.
What are NFTs (Non-Feet Transducers)?
NFTs can be used to support claims of an artwork’s worth. The JPEG of Everydays can be copied but the blockchain-based ownership record will allow the collector to show the work and resell it on various online platforms.
You can download a free copy of Everydays, The First 5000 days. It isn’t very helpful without an NFT. Beeple
Christie’s has entered into a deal with maker’splace. Makersplace’s NFTs are based on an open-standard smart contract, meaning that the work is available in many places within the NFT eco-system.
NFTs can be useful for the digital art market, as they allow claims of authenticity and scarcity despite how easily digital works are copied. Artists and galleries tried to create a lack by using limited edition works and ensuring authenticity with certificates. But NFTs automate the process.
NFTs are a decentralized alternative to central databases that record ownership. Blockchains, built through peer-to-peer networking and cryptography, are resistant to hacking and tampering. This makes them useful as a way to store important records. Vince Tabora, from the US tech site HackerNoon, has created an Explainer that explains how blockchain differs from other ways to store and organize data.
Since Satoshi’s whitepaper was published in 2008, the concept of a ” trusted ” way to secure public records evolved into the ” Confidence Machine,” generating a lot of hype. Several publications have been published to encourage a more critical and nuanced engagement with the blockchain’s potential and limitations. MoneyLab Reader 2, Overcoming Hype, and There Is No Such Thing As Blockchain Art.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have described possible use cases in the art industry. These include securing artworks provenance (see Maecenas ) or enabling safe forms of fractional ownership.
Christie’s has been a leader in new technology for many years. Since 2018, the company has been hosting regular Art+Tech Summits (the first topic was blockchain).
Christie’s sold the algorithmically created Portrait of Edmond Belamy by French collective Obvious in 2018 for US$432,500. Obvious
Christie’s announced in 2018 that it was the “first auction house to sell a work created by an algorithm.” The AI-generated portrait of Edmond Belamy sold for 40 times the estimate.
Christie’s, by selling Everyday’s “as the first purely digital artwork” offered by a major art auction house, is reinforcing their self-described position at the “front of innovation in the world of art.”
CryptoKitties and virtual trading cards
The Christie’s auction, which is coming up soon, is just the tip of the iceberg for NFT collectors. The industry publication Coindesk estimated the NFT market’s total value at US$250,000,000. Platforms like Opensea, Nifty Gateway, and SuperRare offer a wide range of digital collectibles for buyers and sellers.
Digital collectibles go beyond art and include artifacts, virtual trading cards, and clothing for virtual gaming environments. In CryptoKitties, they are used to ensure the “unique DNA” of every kitty. These examples show the adoption of NFTs in different digital subcultures. They allow collectors to claim uniqueness previously thought impossible online.
Blockchain for Artists
Blockchain-based systems may also be beneficial to artists and other creative practitioners.
Researchers from RMIT have published a document that explains how blockchain infrastructures can help Australia’s creativity economy in 2019. Researchers at RMIT have published a paper on how blockchain infrastructures can help Australia’s creative economy in 2019.
The artists themselves are looking for ways to utilize blockchain technology and other “distributed-ledger” technologies. The DAOWO Session: Artworld prototypes was a collaboration between Goethe Institute, Serpentine Galleries, and Furtherfield over the last decade. Artists think the blockchain is another notable project. It shows how artists are involved in this technological change. Disco Coop, Troy DAO, and Black Swan Coop also examine the ways that new organizational tools can challenge traditional value systems.
In Australia, this reexamination has been taking place. In 2019, Baden Pailthorpe worked with me to curate a project titled Documenta. This brought together local designers, artists, and hackers in order to examine the impact blockchain can have on the arts, culture, and heritage of the Asia-Pacific region.
Nancy Mauro Mauro-Flude co-curated an event called MoneyLab#X with me that was presented by a number of universities, art galleries, and arts organizations. We gave a series of talks, performances, and artworks that explored how the blockchain’s uprooting legacy economic systems, narratives, and values opens space for imagining different ways to value and design our creative and cultural practices.