The Importance Of The Physical-Digital Link In The Blockchain Revolution For Art

In 1834, capturing an object’s image was time-consuming work.

First you had to wait for a sunny day. Then you placed the object on special paper that had been sensitized to light with salt and silver nitrate.

And then you waited. For hours.

The exposed areas of the photo would darken over the course of the day, and only the object’s silhouette would remain.

Today? All you have to do is snap a picture on your smartphone, create a copy, and edit it to look like a silhouette. It might take a minute or two.

The art world has changed. It’s been digitized and democratized.

Art, and the tools to create it, are now accessible to anyone with a smartphone camera. And all of this is happening at a time when the nature of our work is changing dramatically.

Creativity is our future. Jobs that can be planned and repeated will be performed by algorithms. Manual labor will be outsourced to the machine economy.

The creative sector is set to grow exponentially, and we have to innovate and grow along with it.

As more labor intensive work is automated, we have to look to new technology to make sure a career in the arts is sustainable. That’s largely because the old model isn’t working.

Here’s how artists traditionally made money:

A talented artist builds a portfolio of their work over years, waiting to get some publicity. After a while, their pieces may be picked up by a gallery. From there, a very select few will eventually make it onto the auction block. And even for the artists who do manage that feat, it takes nearly a lifetime.

But we have the option to embrace technology and create a new path for artists.

Technology doesn’t have to replace our physical, visceral experiences of art — or even the creation of art. Rather, it can change the role of the artist from passive to proactive, from dependent to emboldened.

We can give artists the power to shape the life they want, without having to toil for years, hoping to be one of the lucky few to make it.

There are companies that have started to embrace these sentiments.

Their solution is to tokenize digital artwork, allowing many people a small investment stake in artworks. This provides artists and collectors with a new way to monetize their digital works.

We’ve already seen artists register digital art to blockchain, enabling them to exchange value directly on their digital assets.

With this model, there’s no need to wait years for a lucky break and a sale at a high-end auction house.

Of course, we still live in a physical world. There are already millions of pieces of physical art in circulation throughout galleries, museums, and private collections.

As a trained visual artist, I understand the impact technology will have on physical art.

I’ve spent my career in architecture, construction, and technology.

I’m happy to be writing this today as the Executive Director of the Blockchain Art Collective. But in 2016, I began working with Chronicled, focusing on the intersection of the arts, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Chronicled began with a mission to give physical objects permanent digital and physical identities by registering them on blockchain. And the EAC is leveraging Chronicled’s blockchain technology to provide unprecedented and unparalleled art provenance tracking to artists, collectors, and institutions.

We offer artists an opportunity to register physical art to blockchain, make claims of authorship and licensing, and tokenize their artwork.

Fortunately, the Blockchain Art Collective provides a new kind of Certificate of Authenticity. Tamper-evident, secure, and unique, this is the only certificate of authenticity to create a one-to-one link between a physical artwork and an immutable digital record.

Not only can an artist, collector, or institution register a work to the blockchain with a simple software interface and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, but they can also track records of transfer on the blockchain.

For the first time, we’ll have true provenance for physical artworks.

And the implications for artists are enormous.

Artists will have access to rights and remuneration over time, transportation and tracking of precious works, and artwork authentication in a manner we’ve never seen before.

Adoption will take time, I know. But 2017 put blockchain on the map, and 2018 will be the year of education of blockchain applications for the everyday person or artist, beyond the tech world.

We need to help people in the art world understand that blockchain’s capabilities go far beyond cryptocurrency.

The Blockchain Art Collective and our game-changing art provenance platform is the perfect engine for that education. The next wave of technology is here, and it’s fundamentally changing the art world for the better.

We’re enabling artists to have careers that are driven by passion and skill, not just by chance.


Thanks for reading!

Our team is really excited to be working with artists to digitize their artwork.

To try it for yourself, get a starter kit and blockchain-based certificate of authenticity here.

You can also follow our work on Instagram @blockchainartcollective.