5 Ways The Blockchain Is Revolutionizing the Art World 7 8100

Artists have always felt at home on the cutting edge. When you look at how art has changed, from pigment splashed on cave walls to internet memes that replicate across the web millions of times, it’s clear the only limit to artistic expression is the human imagination itself. If something appears confusing or strange, it’s only because artists are always a few steps ahead of the rest of us.

It’s no surprise then that the art world has proven to be an early and enthusiastic proponent of cryptocurrency and the blockchain. Not only is the latter benefiting collectors, galleries, and museums; but artists themselves are beginning to use the technology as a medium.

Power to the Artists

Thanks to the blockchain, artists have a level of control over their digital work that’s been absent from the beginning. Using a platform like Curio Cards, artists can create ‘cards’, or small pieces of digital art, and sell them directly to the consumer without third party fees.

Each card is represented by an address recorded on the blockchain, ensuring any transaction is permanent and that the consumer is the sole owner of the art in question.

While these cards may seem playful to most, not ‘serious art’ at all, their underlying principle has profound ramifications to notions of authenticity, value, and ownership.

Digital Scarcity

Perhaps the most important feature of a service like Curio Cards is the concept of ‘digital scarcity’. Obviously, the value of digital art suffers from its infinite replicability. You can copy and paste any image that’s online with an ease that simply doesn’t apply to physical works of art.

But thanks to the permanent and unalterable nature of the blockchain, a work of digital art can now lay claim to the same aura of uniqueness as a Picasso. This benefits the creator, who now has control over the spread of their own work, as well as bringing transparency into the collector’s market, where fraud and inauthenticity have long run roughshod.

Clamping down on Forgeries

More than other asset classes, art has suffered from a lack of safeguards against forgery. The blockchain can remedy this by creating a permanent record of transactions. No longer is a collector forced to trust the word of a powerful gallery or auction house on a piece’s authenticity, nor must they risk being defrauded by an individual seller who may be shopping a forgery.

Companies like Ascribe and Binded are leveraging the blockchain to create a record of each piece of art that tells us who the artist is, how many times and to whom the artwork has been sold, and the value of each of those transactions.

Access to the Art Market

Amateurs have long found it difficult, if not outright impossible, to break into the art collecting world. The sums are staggering, with a Leonardo Da Vinci painting of dubious quality and provenance recently going to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia for a cool $450 million at auction.

Maecenas is seeking to lower this barrier of entry by allowing any individual to invest in art. Using the platform’s own ART token as well as other cryptocurrencies, one can buy as much or as little of a piece of art as they wish.

Galleries, art owners, and private collectors can also list their holdings on the service, and it’s possible that in the future true masterpieces will be available to buy. Consider – one day you may own your very own share of a Leonardo Da Vinci.

Art as Crypto

The relationship of art to crypto isn’t limited to buying and selling. The artist Kevin Abosch recently took things a step farther, drawing on many of the uses of the blockchain outlined above to make art that was itself cryptocurrency.

Abosch created a unique digital photograph of a rose (poetically dubbed ‘The Forever Rose’) and sold it in the form of a ROSE token, a single alt-coin that was purchased by ten collectors at a total price of $1 million USD. While merely a proof of concept for ‘crypto art’ (all proceeds were donated to charity), expect to see much more of this fusion of creativity and technology.

In retrospect, it makes perfect sense that the art world has struck up a relationship with the blockchain. Both thrive on the bleeding edge, where paradigms are meant to be challenged, and the idea of what is possible is relentlessly changed for the better.

And though this article concerns how the blockchain is revolutionizing the art world, the influence cuts both ways, and perhaps the day will come when we see the blockchain used by artists in ways that transcend anything we ever imagined.

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Christina is a technology and business communicator who has worked with high profile ICOs and blockchain influencers to break industry news.


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Real Estate Doesn’t Need to Be So Complicated 0 338

Because blockchain is basically data management, one industry it stands to improve a great deal is real estate. The process of buying and selling real estate is first and foremost a data transfer. There were $463.9 billion in large cap commercial real estate investments nationwide in 2017. All that money moves paper. Since land cannot actually be owned, the idea of land ownership must be exhaustively documented, organized, purchased and sold. The myriad processes that make up one transaction, namely title transfers, putting funds through escrow, and navigating an outdated MLS system, all stand to benefit from a technology upgrade.

Blockchain could quicken and simplify these processes by virtue of its transparent, untamperable and near instantaneous handling of data. “What if you could irrefutably determine who previously owned a property, record with absolute certainty who the new owner is after it sells and reference the blockchain at any time to verify all previous owners?” asks Mark Rutzen, Co-founder and CEO of Eondo Inc.  “Even the combination or splitting of parcels would be easy to record with blockchain technology,” he adds.

Moving into the future of real estate, particularly commercial real estate and investment, will soon mean embracing the block. Here are some of the ways blockchain is changing real estate.

Financing Developers and Investors

For anyone in real estate investment or development, the most glaring obstacle is getting the upfront capital when you find a good opportunity.

“Real estate investors and developers are turning to new technologies like blockchain smart contracts to find more liquidity at lower costs,” says Joseph Snyder, CEO at Lannister Holdings, an Arizona-based technology company working to create more blockchain lending and crowdfunding tools through their Lannister Development subsidiary.

Lannister is publicly traded and regulated by the SEC, which is uncommon for a blockchain company. But Snyder sees it as an inevitability in the long term. He anticipates a future where blockchain real estate regulation is the norm, and blockchain development like Lannister’s is part of mainstream business development and commerce.

“We wanted to be heavily regulated up front,” he says. “We believe regulation and financial compliance are coming down the pipe.” And, according to their website, they “see a future of security, transparency, and growth beyond the stale oligarchy of traditionalists.”

Systems like this give access to capital to smaller investors and developers who don’t have a lot of capital to work with up front. In theory, this could level the playing field.

Real Estate Professionals Worldwide Are Developing a Blockchain Future

Others are envisioning a near future where you could buy a house with a click on a shopping cart icon. If blockchain can clean up the real estate process enough, it could do more than just disrupt the industry. It could give it a total overhaul.

The P2P nature of blockchain enables faster sales and a higher volume of deals closed with fewer legal headaches and administrative fees. It also means a trustless economy and immediate processing of property values and other technical details, like zoning regulations or utility expenses.

Organizations like the International Blockchain Real Estate Association, or IBREA, are dedicated to incubating the many possibilities produced by the intersection of real estate and blockchain. Local chapters of IBREA hold meetups in 23 cities for its 5,000 members to come together as professionals and co-educators, with the goal of moving the real estate world into the blockchain age.

According to Ragnar Lifthrasir, founder of IBREA, “real estate technology is going more peer to peer.”

“I think what people are missing with blockchain and real estate is the data problem,” he adds. “We have so much data in real estate. So to really do blockchain real estate well you also have to have a good data system, which is distributed file storage, or IPFS.”

Real Estate Without Headaches

With some real world testing to work out the bugs, blockchain real estate could take us into a future where we can buy and sell property as easily as we do a cup of coffee. With data properly arranged and the transactions secure and transparent, there will be no need for the systems currently governing the industry—nor the room for error, delays and complications they open up at every step.

For anyone with aspirations in real estate development or investment, blockchain promises to open a lot of doors.

There’s an Inflatable ‘Bitcoin Rat’ Staring Down the Fed 0 82

Someone has put a giant inflatable rat outside the Federal Reserve Bank in New York.

It’s covered in Bitcoin code, printed in rainbow colors, and is apparently a piece of installation art aimed at subverting the federal institution that controls the US dollar. Or is it pale, puffed-up pariah a commentary on Bitcoin bros themselves? Or does it have something to do with Warren Buffett, who earlier this year called Bitcoin “rat poison squared”? According to CoinDesk, who first reported on the inflatable rat, the meaning is intentionally ambiguous.

The artist behind the puzzling prank is Nelson Saiers. He describes his own work as “mystifying” and “singularly original”, notwithstanding the long history of rats being inflated as protests or used as economic and political icons in art and entertainment around the world.

“It’s art, so I hope they’re entertained by it,” he said, apparently implying that art is entertainment. “It’s informative, I hope people will learn [and] I’m hoping it’ll at least help people understand bitcoin better and be kind of faithful to what Satoshi would have wanted,” he added, citing the mysterious pseudonym of Bitcoin’s founder with a touch of reverence.

A $50 Million Artist

Saiers, a phD in theoretical mathematics, was a hedge fund manager who did that thing where you give up all the money to chase your dream of being an artist.

His financial experience includes a stint as managing director at Deutsche Bank’s prop trading desk, before becoming CIO of Saiers Capital, the hedge fund that bears his name. His creative career gives credence to the theory that working as an artist is more and more a privilege of the very wealthy.

CNBC estimated Saiers’s wealth to be around $50 million at the time of he departed from the financial industry to pick up his paintbrushes.

The Rat Joins a Tradition of Sculpture-as-Commentary in FiDi

The Bitcoin rat, which stands on Maiden Lane, isn’t the first pop up sculpture to grace Manhattan’s financial district. Last year, Kristen Visbal’s 50 inch bronze ‘Fearless Girl’ statue made waves by staring down the famous ‘Charging Bull’, to the outrage of ‘Charging Bull’ sculptor Arturo Di Modica. The 3.5 ton ‘Charging Bull’ itself was left on Wall Street in the middle of the night when Di Modica originally created it, obstructing traffic and drawing the curiosity of passers by.

When Saiers placed the Bitcoin rat, he initially set it up on private property and was promptly ushered off by security guards, who he says were good natured about the situation. He expects the sculpture to be more temporary than the aforementioned Wall Street bronzes, and will probably only be around for a few days.

A Critique of the 2008 Bailouts

The placement of the rat on Maiden Lane seems to be no accident, but rather a reference to the Maiden Lane Transactions, more commonly known as that time when the Fed bailed out the big banks after they all caused the 2008 market crash. The Bitcoin crowd’s antipathy towards the Fed and the big banks is palpable in Sairs’s rat sculpture, and while a more specific meaning eludes, perhaps the success of the piece depends upon its ability to start conversations about the state of finance.

We’ll leave it to the viewers to decide who’s the rat—the Federal Reserve, or Bitcoin itself—and what that means for the future of currencies.

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