Blockchain technology has the potential to fundamentally change industries around the world, but few people outside of the industry have a deep understanding of what it is or how it may affect their livelihood.
Some believe the art world will be an exception from blockchain innovation — an island standing alone in a sea of change.
In reality, even a traditional and slow-moving space like fine art will have opportunities to benefit from this emerging technology.
That’s why it’s important to educate artists and institutions on what the blockchain can actually do and how it will transform the art world. If you’re still new to the space, check out my glossary of the blockchain terms you need to know.
Part of that education is knowing the artists working in the blockchain space.
Here are a few to keep your eye on:
It wasn’t until Kevin Abosch sold a photo of a potato for a million euros that he decided to turn himself into a coin.
His reasoning: “The focus shifts from the artistic value to monetary value of the work, and for most artists the art is an extension of the artist, so you yourself start to feel commodified.”
So, Abosch created 10 million tokens — his own cryptocurrency. But here’s where it gets interesting. He also had six vials of his own blood drawn and then proceeded to stamp the contract address of the tokens onto 100 pieces of paper. He named the conceptual art project IAMA Coin, and it’s just one of many reasons to keep Mr. Abosch and his work on your radar.
Another is his recent work with Ai Weiwei — a project called PRICELESS. It uses the Ethereum blockchain to amplify a conversation about the value of human life, identity and value by focusing on the global refugee crisis.
CoinArtist, the nom de guerre of Marguerite Christine, has become one of the most intriguing people in the art crypto world.
For several years, she’s been creating bitcoin puzzles — contained within original paintings. She created her last puzzle in 2015 with the help of another crypto artist named Rob Meyers. And despite wild speculation online, the puzzle went unsolved for three years.
The prize for solving her last puzzle was 4.87 bitcoin.
At the time of the puzzle’s creation, it was worth about $1,400. When the puzzle was finally solved, its worth had skyrocketed to nearly $50,000.
Currently, she’s making Neon District for all you futuristic crypto gamers out there.
cryptograffiti was an early cryptocurrency enthusiast who now dedicates his work to spreading the word about blockchain and its potential.
He was also one of the pioneers in researching new revenue channels for artists, which included allowing people to send him bitcoin as they pass by his street art. His current artwork features materials taken from industries that have been disrupted by blockchain.
For much of her life Nanu Berks lived a nomadic lifestyle, disconnected from the phones and laptops that consume most people’s daily lives. Backpacking, hitchhiking, and painting murals, she made her way through the Americas, parts of Europe, and the Middle East.
After a near-death experience, she began learning about blockchain technology and advocating its use for empowerment and activism.
Berks continues to work on murals and paintings, now incorporating crypto designs. And she advocates for blockchain’s potential as a catalyst for change and freedom of expression around the world.
Gordon Berger made a name for himself at the Central Saint Martins University of Arts and currently continues to develop his practice in London.
He started exploring the virtual world in his “emoji series” paintings that investigates our current means of communication, translating it from the smartphone to the canvas. More recently he works digitally exploring materiality, tokenization and the blockchain ecosystem.
Yet he also works physically crafting eye-catching screen paintings.The artworks show that our relationship with the screen has become a necessary channel for expression, escapism and social interaction, encapsulating a symbiotic relationship between art and technology.
Working on one of the most intriguing blockchain-inspired concepts out there, Jessica Angel is truly helping to bridge the gap between the physical and crypto worlds.
Her current project is to create a physical rendering of the “Dogethereum bridge” — the connection that allows Dogecoin users to exchange their tokens for Ethereum. Her design for the bridge, based on the Klein bottle, is being fabricated in Vermont and will be shipped to Vancouver for installation during the city’s Biennale exhibition.
Primavera De Filippi
If you haven’t heard of Plantoids, you aren’t alone. And you also aren’t too late to help them grow.
Plantoids, one of the most ingenious links between blockchain and the art world, are the brainchild of Primavera de Fiippi.
Her interactive flora-inspired creations exist physically in our world but are “fed” by contributions of cryptocurrency.
The donations are used to pay for the resources needed to “grow” the plantoid. When a donation is made, the plantoid may light up, “animated by a mixture of mechanical greed and gratitude.” The concept is tricky to grasp at first, but learning more — or even feeding a plantoid — is well worth your time.
Formed from a combination of two words (“hack” and “tao”) the digital art phenomenon Hackatao is itself a combination of sorts.
Italian couple Sergio Scalet and Nadia Squarci are the creators of Hackatao — an amalgam of paintings, digital art, sculptures, and other technological mediums.
After their first child was born, the two decided to quit their advertising jobs in Milan and move to the mountains in Carnia to work on their art and raise their family — a transition they felt was possible because of the explosion of new technology in the creative fields. There, they continue to create pieces that utilize emerging technologies to tokenize their artowkrs.
Did we miss you on this list?
Our team at the Blockchain Art Collective wants to know everyone who is making impactful crypto art, so please reach out to share your story for future features.
To learn more about how we work with artists to digitize their artwork, check out our blockchain-based certificate of authenticity here.
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