Why It’s Important For Artists To Understand Emerging Technologies
The other day I was sitting at my desk researching a handful of the many different blockchain platforms and offerings, trying to figure out which might be the “best.”
It wasn’t an easy task.
There are protocols: Ethereum, Eos, Kardama. And digital art: CryptoKitties, CryptoPunks, DADA.nyc. The sheer numbers can make your head spin, especially if you aren’t well-versed in blockchain technology.
How can we really know which platforms are going to be the “winners?” How can we know what will turn out to be the most helpful for artists?
To be honest, with a technology as new as the blockchain, the answers are unknown. Some platforms will be around for decades, others will be gone next year.
For many people, that’s reason enough to stay out of the fray entirely. They’ll wait until the environment has solidified into a few options they can easily choose from.
That’s not the best strategy.
I think it’s important for artists and anyone involved in the art world to educate themselves and stay aware of how to use new technologies to their advantage.
If we want to shape the way these innovations grow and and what they eventually become, we have to be involved from the very beginning.
There are a few reasons why:
Emerging technologies are flooding the art world.
The Blockchain Art Collective is planning a blockchain-themed mural for downtown LA that exemplifies the power of adapting technology to art.
The mural will be unique because it’s going to have a cryptographic seal embedded somewhere in the wall under the paint. And when people scan that seal with their phones, they’ll be able to see information about the work. It may be a video, an article about the artist, or photos of the mural as it was being painted. Eventually, that may even lead to tokenization, allowing people to buy a piece of the mural and trade it.
And that’s not the only example of technology opening up possibilities for the art world. Recently, the French street artist Pascal Boyart began incorporating QR codes into his murals, allowing people to “tip” him in bitcoin. He ended up raising about $1,000.
These examples seem like oddities now, but they won’t be so unique in the future as the blockchain continues to mature and more use cases are created.
Technological and societal promises will converge.
We’re at a tipping point when it comes to the types of new technology we have at our disposal — and when it comes to their societal potentials.
For the blockchain, its potential is a world without third parties. It promises trusted, automated, and immutable transacting. Although some call this a “trustless” world, I like to use the term “trusted.” There’s still a level of trust that’s needed in the programming of the trustless interactions.
There’s always a human element involved somewhere.
The societal implications involve the democratization of various platforms and ecosystems. The more people who can participate — hopefully — the less power will be vested in the hands of just a few people at the top. In an ideal world, the power belongs to the network.
And we are starting to see real use cases, like the digital tip jar or AI that analyzes brush strokes to determine the authenticity of a painting. Widespread use of these technologies is closer than you may imagine.
The world of art and technology is a free-for-all right now.
If artists want to take advantage of this technology, they have to educate themselves.
Study the capabilities of new technologies. Sign up for some monthly newsletters so you always have something in you inbox to read about. Learn about different ecosystems and the teams behind them.
We’re not yet to the point where the people behind a platform don’t matter. The people creating these networks will influence them heavily. And it’s important to learn who these people are and whether or not you can really trust them.
That means we need participation from people in the art world. We need everyone to engage in conversations, go to meet-ups, try out platforms.
By staying open to new technologies and learning how to use them, artists can improve provenance and find new ways to monetize art. But we have to participate and make ourselves heard for this to happen.