Blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt a variety of industries. Still in its nascent stages, however, much of the promised potential of blockchain technology is still purely speculation or in its early development as a practical application. Interestingly, the application of blockchain technology has quietly made its way into the world of art, where the intersection of the two seems natural. From verifiable authenticity of art pieces to new avenues of revenue streams for artists, blockchain and art have come together in some fascinating combinations.
Authenticated Provenance & New Revenue Streams
One of the more profound and persistent problems facing the art industry is authenticity. With major paintings and other high-value works of art, the provable authenticity of a piece as the original is hard to come by and is one of the primary reasons that famous original works of art can go for unbelievable sums of money.
Forgery in the art world is not only rampant in the traditional physical realm of works such as paintings, but is also increasingly prevalent in the digital art world in the form of digital scarcity. The replication of digital artworks and subsequent dissemination across the Internet lowers the value of the work and makes identifying the original artist or piece of art very difficult.
Blockchain offers the solution that was previously unavailable to these problems. Digital artists can place hash values in their works, and through the immutability of the blockchain, their work can be trivially verified as authentic. This has cascading effects on not only the digital scarcity of their work but also opens up a new revenue stream for them.
The artist alone ends up controlling both the distribution and the price of their work. Rather than having their work distributed without their consent, the artists can receive their appropriate share of the revenue generated from their work, whether that revenue comes from an increased value in the original work due to its digital scarcity, or the value received from distributing the work to other companies or individuals.
The integration of blockchain into the art world helps artists to receive the appropriate value for their efforts by removing the middlemen that have long dominated value dispersion in the industry. Further, platforms such as Po.et are focusing on providing the intuitive framework for content creators, artists, and publishers to own, monetize, and even issue licenses for their content.
A New Class of Art and Art Investing
A recent trend in the cryptocurrency space has seen more abstract works of art emerge from unlikely places. Examples such as Satoshi’s Place’s graffiti art utilizing the lightning network, Bitcoin puzzles, and collectibles like CryptoKitties that are non-fungible assets are the more high-profile cases. A handful of very creative and sometimes bizarre works include various iterations of the last Bitcoin supper, as well as larger and more formal projects such as the Scarab Experiment and Plantoid.
Various marketplaces for blockchain artwork have also started to gather attention such as BitPainting and Maecenas. Online marketplaces for blockchain artwork have also given rise to the notion of fractionalized art investing. Where high-value original works, such as a Rembrandt or Picasso, are not only available to the most wealthy individuals to invest in.
Fractionalized art allows mainstream investors to buy into a piece of an artwork, thereby giving the similar equivalent of a company share in that piece of art. Should the piece sell at a later date at a higher value, then the fractional owners would be compensated accordingly depending on their stake in the work. Such a model for art ownership would also allow art pieces to fund their own existence in prominent art galleries through decentralizing the investing process in a type of crowdfunding for the owners of the piece to properly maintain and showcase it.
Only The Beginning
Creativity and technology are converging into blockchain art. Artists now have an ecosystem to maintain the verifiable authenticity of their work, receive an appropriate proportion of the value from their work, and all the while participating in a bleeding edge technology.
With a creative array of art already available, some major projects in the works, and typically bizarre, yet fascinating other concepts in the cryptocurrency community ingratiating into space, the intersection of blockchain and art is just blooming.