5 Ways The Blockchain Is Revolutionizing the Art World 6 7666

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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Chinese Crypto Leader Li Xiaolai Suddenly Retires 0 37

One of China’s most prominent Bitcoin investors has announced his retirement from the crypto world. Billionaire Li Xiaolai is the founder of BitFund, a crypto venture capital firm that has fostered a slew of Bitcoin-related startups.

Li’s announcement of his decision to withdraw from cryptospace—and investing otherwise—came unexpectedly via his page on Chinese social media site Weibo.

“From this day on,” his post reads, according to TechNode’s translation, “I, Li Xiaolai, will personally not invest in any projects (whether it is blockchain or early stage). So, if you see ‘Li Xiaolai’ associated with any project (I have been associated with countless projects without my knowledge, 99% is not an exaggeration), just ignore it.”

Li is a former school teacher, and claims to be the first person in China to openly trade Bitcoins, rather than hiding behind its famous anonymity. Now, retired from both teaching and investing, he says he’s not sure where to go next. “I plan to spend several years to contemplate on my career change. As for what I’m doing next, I’m not sure just yet.”

Li closed his post by expressing that he still maintains a long term optimism about the blockchain.

Li’s Ventures Grew Crypto Capital, Controversey

Through BitFund, Li has incubated a number of blockchain related startups, including an off-chain wallet called Bitfoo, the crypto exchange YUNBI, and HashRatio, a miner manufacturing company. Li organized 2014’s Global Bitcoin Summit in Beijing, back when you could get a BTC for as little as $440, and years before China instated its full ban on cryptocurrencies.

Earlier this year, Li also acted as managing partner of Hangzhou Xiong’An Blockchain Fund, a billion dollar fund backed by the Hangzhou government. Li stepped down after fellow venture capitalist Chen Weizing introduced a series of accusations against him.

Included in the eleven accusations, which Chen broke on social media and messaging platform WeChat, were a supposed debt of 30,000 BTC that Chen says Li failed to pay on time. Li published a point-by-point response to Chen’s accusations, addressing the 30,000 BTC debt by saying “it’s not true… Chen is just muddying the water.”

Though Li called them “defamations,” and Chen did not offer supporting evidence for his allegations, Li said Chen’s antics “brought material and negative impacts on the reputation of Xiong’An Blockchain Fund” and that his resignation would “let the Hangzhou government continue its push for blockchain development.”

Li was the subject of controversy on another occasion when, in a candid conversation he did not know was being recorded, he outed several influential organizations as scams and said that the best way to succeed in blockchain, even if your project is worthless, is to get famous and build consensus.

The State of Crypto in the People’s Republic

All crypto and blockchain related websites are blocked by the Chinese government, and citizens are forbidden from engaging in crypto transactions. The People’s Bank of China released a statement on August 24th warning against ICOs, which they consider to be “illegal fundraising, pyramid schemes, and fraud.”

But the rules have been difficult to enforce, and crypto still enjoys an active user base in China. Beijing Sci-Tech Report, China’s oldest technology publication, is now the first Chinese publication to accept BTC as payment from its subscribers. Chinese crypto channel cnLedger announced in a tweet on September 25th that Ethereum Hotel, China’s first hotel to accept ETH as payment, is open for business in Sichuan Province.

A Crypto Landscape Without a Leader

The sudden exit of Li Xiaolai from the Chinese crypto scene could have caveats, or greater implications. Weibo users expressed their support and gratitude following his announcement, but some also speculated that his choice of words leaves room for Li to continue investing in crypto indirectly, perhaps through funds or corporate entities. Whether that will be the case or not, for many, his resignation marks the loss of a public blockchain leader.

The Block Talk Award Winners Announced 1 1042

Thanks to everyone for submitting your favorite blockchain innovators and influencers. Our editorial team had a great time learning about new projects and individuals that are building a foundation for our future with blockchain technology, and realizing amazing technological feats in the present.

While it was difficult to select just one project or individual in each category, we’re excited to announce the winners of our first inaugural Block Talk Awards.

  • Best ICO Analysis & Commentary – Tatiana Koffman, Various Outlets
  • Most Engaged Community – Rod Turner, Various Outlets
  • Favorite Blockchain Blogger – Rachel Wolfson, Forbes
  • Best Crypto Journalist – Jordan French, The Street
  • Innovative Female Founder – Amber Baldet, Clovyr
  • Best Podcast Host(s) – Joel Comm and Travis Wright, Bad Crypto
  • Favorite Blockchain Event Host – Adryenn Ashley, Loly.io
  • Top Crypto Speaker – Ian Balina, Crypto World Tour
  • Most Innovative Blockchain CEO – Trevor Koverko, Polymath
  • Top Social Entrepreneur – Evan Caron, Swytch

Winners in each category will receive a $1500 media credit on The Block Talk, access to a network of TBT Award honorees, and VIP access to TBT events in 2019.

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