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Blockchain Making Impact in Art and Design

Blockchain Making Impact in Art and Design
(Wutthichai Luemuang/Dreamstime)

By    |   Wednesday, 27 June 2018 02:20 PM

The power of blockchain is undeniably relevant to finance and business, and headlines focus on these two applications for the technology more than any other related topic.

By far the loudest cries in the media concern the price of Bitcoin, other high-performing decentralized assets, or just the health of the crypto market itself. Projects that reduce barriers to financial services are also a hot topic. However, the noise makes it difficult to recognize the real breakthrough which is the infrastructure making this speculative boom possible alongside its vast capabilities.

Blockchain may occasionally be mentioned in the same breath as sensational cryptocurrency news, but it isn’t given the mention it deserves. Special distributed solutions have been created to boost the efficacy of Internet of Things networks, for example, while sophisticated smart contract platforms help entrepreneurs access the power of autonomous decision-making. Among all the many sectors in which blockchain has made a sizeable disruption, there is competition for the limelight. In this case, art and design are likely competing for last place.

Neglecting blockchain’s impact on these creative areas is an error on the same scale as ignoring blockchain for bitcoin. Though the art industry is more esoteric and impractical than finance or artificial intelligence that doesn’t mean its reaction to blockchain is any less noteworthy. There are many issues inherent in the more creative disciplines that have always been accepted as “the cost of doing business”, such as the proliferation of convincing counterfeits. Innovators are now using blockchain to address these notions with surprising and constructive results.

Removing Cost as a Creative Barrier

Much of the complex design work done today is accomplished via computer, which significantly reduces the drafting work required by an architect or animator, for instance. Animating a short and rendering it alone may take hundreds of hours, but saving this sweat equity comes at a different price.

Because individual computers don’t have the power to render the most complex moving graphics, it must be borrowed from elsewhere. Organizing the required power is expensive and is frequently achieved by contracting with Amazon or other similar cloud firms. This is untenable for solo artists and small animation houses, which can’t afford the capital investment in themselves or outsourced solutions.

Leonardo Render is a blockchain-based company that recognizes the cloud-based model is far from ideal. It’s expensive to employ remote rendering services, and more expensive to invest in hardware. However, if CGI artists don’t want to wait months for a render to complete, there’s no avoiding either option.

Leonardo Render borrows one of the most basic ideas from blockchain to produce a better platform, on which a decentralized network of peers collectively share their own PC’s power with the network. They’re compensated in LEOS tokens in proportion to the amount of power supplied, which they can then turn around and redeem for the entire network’s concentrated power (or sell).

This special blockchain is making expensive rendering capabilities more accessible to individual artists and animators. Through a staking model with LEOS, the company is already enticing large GPU-based rendering farms like Giga Watt to contribute to the network.

Widen Access to the Top of the Art Pyramid

Climbing the ladder in the art world is more a function of social skills and luck than objective skill as an artist. It’s about making connections with galleries and art world elite who hold the only keys to the market: illusion. Galleries create legitimacy for artists shown there, list prices that few can afford, and invite important people who can create name recognition for an artist in key social circles. Once an artist has made it to this pinnacle, their work is worth significant sums and they’re often finding willing patrons among the rich.

However, being at the top of the pyramid is a precarious position. The artist can make a lot of money from the occasional buyer, but they’re often left out of the secondary market. Wealthy people who buy a famous artist’s painting or sculpture pay just once, and the artist gets nothing if they manage to sell it a few years later for double. Additionally, art lovers who don’t belong to the relevant socio-economic class are simply unable to participate whatsoever. To address the problems of restrictive exclusivity in the art market, blockchain companies like Maecenas are using tokens to fractionalize ownership shares of fine art.

Cryptographic blockchain proofing is the backbone that makes remote, partial ownership possible. It creates a concept that’s becoming more common in the blockchain sphere called ‘security tokens’, which dynamically change their value in relation to an underlying asset and can be exchanged freely. Such a solution will help popular artists overcome their reliance on wealthy clients exclusively while encouraging support from less wealthy enthusiasts who desire a slice of their favorite pieces.

Eliminating Fraud in the Art Market

Counterfeits are a problem that isn’t exclusive to the art market. Fake watches, clothing, and electronics are also rampant. There’s a difference, however. Art functions as an aesthetically pleasing and entertaining component for a setting and rarely serves other functions. A fake Rolex or a pair of branded headphones might look identical to the real thing, but they don’t work as well, and are thus revealed for what they are. In art, it’s possible to create a near indistinguishable copy of another artist’s work and never be discovered.

Blockchain innovator Verisart has an answer to the fraud problem, which literally takes money out of artists’ pockets. The company is working closely with artists on an individual basis to create their own unique blockchain signature, which can be imprinted upon any work of art and used to confirm its authenticity. These customizable certificates cannot be reproduced, and are logged on the blockchain for permanent, immutable proof of veracity.

There are countless other important applications of blockchain in the art world that are designed to resolve common pain points for artists. Expect more of them to crop up as the world begins to realize the expansive capabilities of blockchain technology.

It’s a testament to the robust technological architecture that in mere years has spread from finance into sectors that are by far the most removed from Wall Street.

After laying such a comprehensive foundation for building all manner of applications, Blockchain assuredly has more surprises yet to come, especially for artists and the enthusiasts that support their efforts.

Jim Hoffer is founder and managing director at Hoffer Financial Consulting. Follow him on Twitter.

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It’s a testament to the robust technological architecture that in mere years has spread from finance into sectors that are by far the most removed from Wall Street.
blockchain, impact, art, design
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2018-20-27
Wednesday, 27 June 2018 02:20 PM
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