Hi Dan & Gauthier! What are the most significant data related to market growth? Any assets or actors standing out according to your NFT Yearly Report for 2019?
The volume of unique artworks traded on the blockchain is an evidence of the global growth of the Art segment: from 2,000 to 32,000 artworks in 2019. SuperRare is definitely the Art marketplace that drives most of the growth of the Art ecosystem, and is undeniably above the fray. The challengers are also strong, the art segment is fortunate to be supported by very mature actors.
Was there something that surprised you in the analysis results?
We suspected a lack of secondary market in the art segment, the report confirmed to us. It is one of the first times that we observe this reversal of trend in the purchase of NFTs. NFT Artworks are no longer bought for quick speculation, but more as a long-term investment.
You underlined that digital collectibles and NFT art have different trends, what do you foresee for the future of these assets? Right now, platforms like NiftyGetaway and also CryptoKitties invite established artists to create crypto collectibles, do you think such cross projects and collaborations are going to happen more often?
Absolutely. The growth of the NFT industry will be ensured by two main vectors: adoption of the technology by users, AND by creators. The phenomenon we are currently witnessing and which started a few months ago, announces in our opinion a new era of the NFT ecosystem. More and more creators (Collectibles, Art, Gaming, etc.) will be able to use NFTs as an expression Medium. Regarding art and collectibles trends, it is extremely tricky to predict the future of these segments, but everything suggests that Collectibles still have a bright future ahead of them, even if their market share is gradually declining. Art is gradually positioning itself as one of the potential main growth vectors for the entire NFT industry.
In the NFT panorama, crypto art still represents a small slice of the whole market. Can you tell us how the market is divided and why art seems more of a niche asset?
The NFT industry is still largely dominated by Gaming & Collectibles (about half of the ecosystem), Real Estate, Trading Card Games and Domain Names also represent massive use cases and an important part of the space. The golden age of NFT began with Cryptokitties and Decentraland, two Collectible and Real Estate projects, both of which gave birth to other projects exploring the same use cases. From a historical point of view, NFT Art is a recent use case, which still seems reserved for an elite.
You recently got a new investor at NonFungible, Polyient Labs, what are your plans for the year ahead?
We are extremely happy to count Polyient Labs as Key Partner for the continuation of our development! The gold mine of data that we have been collecting for more than two years now only needs to be exploited! Polyient will help us develop the tools and functionality that will allow any NFT project manager to monitor the performance of his project, but also to help players and traders to evolve more serenely in the ecosystem of NFTs, knowing precisely and in real time the exact value of assets.
Do you think the current global crisis or Ethereum's higher gas prices will affect the NFT market?
Yes and no. The NFT ecosystem survived the Global Ethereum Clogging caused by Cryptokitties craze in late 2017, early 2018. The projects that will last and that require heavy interaction have already implemented solutions as a result of the 2017 craze, other projects that fail to innovate will lag behind and fade out as we've already noticed
PS: The 2018-2019 NonFungible Art Report is available HERE
Lawrence Lee, acclaimed Contemporary Southwestern artist, and Bård Ionson, coder with a keen eye and an artistic bent, have begun a fascinating journey of collaboration that melds paintings with modern artificial intelligence technology.
Lee’s “magic people” inhabit a separate reality that seems to be of another world--a multidimensional one. By combining one of the original human creative outlets, painting, and advanced math with new technologies, a multitude of mages, seers, shamans and sages has been born.
This is a creation built on a lifetime of Lee’s creations at the easel. Bård used over 250 Lee paintings to train a machine learning / artificial intelligence system and used his own creative skills to perfect the output of the software and to curate results. Lee then worked to identify the best of the generated images and used his digital painting skills and immense creativity to improve on what Bård produced. With each iteration, new possibilities were revealed, and the pair are excited by the prospect of further development, incorporating new technologies as they become available and following the lead of some of the images produced thus far into new, previously unimagined areas.
Bård is now taking the improved results to teach the AI model all over again.
Art will be sold on SuperRare. Please find these Shaman works we call Convergence on SuperRare on the profiles of Lawrence Lee and Bård Ionson
The goal was to expand the creative palette like a hallucinatory dream. Controlled by Bård with training selections, the AI produced a googleplex of possible random outcomes. Lawrence and Bård have hand-selected the best of each production run from the machine, and Lawrence has worked to unearth these new shamans and the landscapes they inhabit by enhancing them further and augmenting their otherworldly qualities in an attempt to better understand their roots and to release their powers.
Ionson and Lee will be releasing the series of images created, called Convergence, as weekly package drops of three still images and one video on SuperRare. Find them starting on June 23.
Convergence Ab The Bård artificial intelligence version | Convergence Ab - After Lawrence Lee turns it into art.
Lawrence is one of the small number of fine artists in the space of tokenized art because he is always looking for ways to expand and learn new things. He has been a professional artist for over 40 years. He is one of the original adopters of non-fungible tokens on SuperRare for his digital art. In addition he has created computer art from early in the personal computer age.
Bård Ionson is an artist who is relative to Lawrence, a beginner with art but has spent a career working with computers and programming. He is now creating digital art and video art using oscilloscopes, scanners and artificial intelligence technologies.
As part of Decentraland’s Genesis City Art Week, MakersPlace will be launching their first ever gallery in Decentraland this Friday June 26th, 2020.
The grand opening of the gallery will take place at 1 PM PST (8PM UTC) and will include a special exhibition featuring 14 MakersPlace artists, 3 talks from artists on their artwork and digital art in general (George Boya, Gala Mirissa, and a joint interview with Indrani Mitra & Fabin Rasheed), an Ask Me Anything with Katy Arrington and Javier Arres, an auction for the collaboration artwork created by Katy Arrington and Javier Arres, and a virtual scavenger hunt with NFTs up for grabs.
Hi Matt! You designed the software you now use to create your artworks. Do you consider coding as an art form in itself?
My approach to coding is similar to making a representational drawing, going from the general to more specific. You initially block in your major forms - or in the case of coding, variables and functions. Then there's this back and forth between additive and reductive actions, comparing what you have to what you want. Just as a draftsman moves their attention between their subject matter and their sketchpad, a coder goes back and forth between a code's output and their coding editor. Both continually fine-tune until the outcome meets their intention. Often, there's still something that could be critiqued or improved. With experience and setting personal standards of excellence, the practitioner doesn't consider something complete until it rises to that level. And if you're lucky, there are Bob Ross 'happy accidents' along the way. On great occasion, we have to tear everything up and start over from scratch. So the process itself between art-making and code writing is very similar.
Code is little more than elegantly crafted instructions; shorthand which is interpretable. And it's the interpretation which carries so many aspects of performance and variability. Sometimes the result is deemed good. More often, it falls short of reaching the expectations of the creator or public. I say this tongue in cheek, but that sounds a lot like art.
We're still learning how to assess code as art. Is it elegance? Usability? The substance of the output? Does it even need to run or can it stand alone like a poem? I regard Sol Lewitt's wall drawing instruction pieces of the 1970s as some early examples of code art. Instead of utilizing a computer, he used human assistants on gallery walls. He proved early on that code doesn't require computers. Every artwork I make could be interpreted by computer, by plotter, by humans, by some technology that hasn't even been invented yet. Code and math are a future proof medium.
I think we can become very hung up on art as object - or consumer good. But for me, if something contains the ability to express - there's an opportunity for someone to regard it as art.
Is there some other esthetic you still wish to explore through your software?
There's more I've explored than I've shared. For instance, when I began this project six years ago, I was very interested in the concept of artificial intelligence. I wanted to encapsulate as much of my studio knowledge and life experience as I could into my software. At the time, machine learning and GANs hadn't advanced much and weren't used for art yet. So my notion of 'AI' was more along the lines of procedural instruction and complex algorithms than the neural networks we think of AI as today. In this vein, I broke down my studio scribble and cross-hatch drawing techniques into algorithms that functioned precisely how I work with a real-life pencil, as a human, observing a subject. I haven't utilized or shared much of that. And there's plenty of other experiments and projects which haven't seen the light of day yet.
Speaking of six years ago and how I chose to pursue the aesthetic I've become known for. I decided that making art with code was relatively accomplishable from the start. Especially abstract or geometric styled art. But to make art in my own representational style I'd already developed - that would be a worthwhile challenge. Something that might take years and at the time, I knew I had years to dedicate myself to something worthwhile. That was what I was interested in doing; to join two disparate chapters of my life into something cohesive, where I could thrive as the sum of my experience.
Is there an art piece or project you are particularly fond of? Why is it significant to you?
I'm fond of them all. I think my most recent piece, "Architects of the Future," is extra special. On a personal level, it brought a dark chapter in my life to a moment of self-actualization and perhaps closed that circle. I'm proud to share more things in common with Buckminster Fuller than I'd care to admit. Being able to share some of his wisdom and shine a light on him felt very appropriate and quite a kismet for how the quote I featured found its way into my life. On a broader scope, making the piece was just so much a labor of love for the people in this community. And it made me think about what messages belong to money and how we celebrate our heroes. I think this work might be one that influences further works.
You somehow “tune in” to color in your practice. Is there a piece of music or daily activity that helps you with that?
The tuning in to color might be a form of synesthesia, I'm not sure. It started very young in an effort to turn my family's black and white television into color. My working theory is that I created some neural pathways, doing that while my brain was still so pliable. It works best in the absence of color, but I've cultivated it to work over anything.
Tuning in to color doesn't require much for me. Sometimes I flip it on just to check it's still there. Like right now, my coffee cup is a melon yellow with a vibrating neon pink and orange outline, sitting on a radioactive green table with a pulsing dark purple diamond pattern. In truth, it's a bland white mug on a boring black table. My favorite thing to do is tune in to color while walking around art galleries or art museums. Some of the works explode and I get really excited seeing them this way. That's an aspect to what inspired some of my art historical master copies; just wanting to share that experience with others-- what the world looks like to me.
Tuning, as part of my art practice, doesn't work properly if I'm not in the proper mindset though. I have a rule never to force things. If I'm not in the mood to paint, I don't paint. If I'm not in the mood to write, I don't write. Same with anything where the quality of my performance is at stake. Mindset is very important. There's difficulty in switching between them because each mindset requires 100% of the stage. They don't play well with one another at any given time. So if I want to paint, I generally go to bed the night before with this intention for the morning. Or I'll go for a walk and then meditate twenty minutes. Setting mental intention and taking time to reset and prepare is everything.
Music doesn't hurt or help the tuning. The best I can do is have clarity and peace of mind - but maybe music helps me reach that flow-state where nothing requires any effort. About 10 years ago, the colors stopped for a while. It was probably equal parts of depression and not being particularly healthy at the time. Instead of colors, I saw patterns and varying degrees of dark and light - so I developed some art processes around that.
Your work references art history but also addresses current issues, calling us to build our own future. Do you think our choices in the (crypto) art world can affect other aspects of our reality?
Creatively, there's an opportunity to redefine what digital art is, what it means to own digital art; what that experience looks like for collector, artist, and public alike. This is the most obvious reality we affect. But beyond that, yes we can affect other aspects of reality. Because art has the innate ability to inspire and influence by connecting with people's hearts, the choices we make in the crypto art community can act as a gateway drug for inspiring other industries.
The traditions we begin, the tenor we treat one another, how we define art patronage, the ethos we bake into our contracts, the protocols we use - they all have the potential to stick around for a long time. Or at least have a heavy influence on what does stick around. Most of us grew up in the decline of the industrial revolution, inheriting traditions begun at least a hundred years before our time. Those systems became increasingly corrupt, favoring growth for the few over the well-being of the many. Reality has an opportunity to change globally; now more than ever.
For me, the most critical reality we can influence is opening a heart to the fact they are not alone. The world can feel very isolating and unfeeling at times because cold breeds cold and our warped systems have left quite a chilling legacy. But warmth can breed warmth just the same. I see that happening here in our crypto art community. What does it feel like to be a human being in a time of border-less, permission-less community that encourages rather than deflates? How can smart contracts circumvent the snail pace of corrupt legislation? Are there laws that don't need to be laws, but simply be accepted practice across our smart-contracts? In terms of solving the problem of artist royalties and creating a new era in art patronage, we are showing the world that the smart contract is mightier than senators, congressmen, and presidents. Where else can we prove that? How can what we're doing here influence other sectors to skirt the dirt of special interest dollars that have left so many behind? Right now on my website, I'm using NFT's to authenticate identity and grant collectors exclusive experiences related to the art they've collected. No passwords or usernames, just digital wallet diligence. How can that notion of NFT as identity inspire other industries? This community is a grand experiment with limitless potential to inspire and influence the outside world. The reality is that much of the world is sick right now and has been for some time; long before this virus. If we can show the world what a healthy and sustainable community looks like, it will go a long way toward mainstream adoption. People prefer to be healthy, want to be loved, want to be connected to inspiring people. We can be those people. We can become the model that makes the old model obsolete.
“I decided to continue the chain with Pak as we had a collaboration in progress, but it got temporarily halted due to the global situation. I really admire Pak as a creator and the tasteful worlds he generates, and I know many others do as well in the community!”
M: As digital artists, we all have a preferred software/tool we use to create. Your work is really thoroughly thought out and quite technical, have you thought about what role the software you use plays in the final look of your work, and how would it look if you had to switch to another medium, like painting, for example?
P: I see software as an expansion of the human - like an additional arm or leg. They affect our capabilities. As a result, our way of thinking and methodology. Therefore, to me, medium and methodology are overlapping subjects that are defined with their limitations.
M: Are there certain aspects of the medium you use that excite you the most?
P: I do not have a primary medium anymore. My works are becoming more cross-medium. Overall, limits excite me.
M: What got you into selling your work on crypto art marketplaces and how do you see this space developing in the future?
P: As I once stated, I define myself more as a designer and less as an artist. However, a design client needs the work, whereas an art collector wants the work. Sometimes it's better to be wanted, than needed. Beyond this, crypto art is the future's art history to leave a trace in.
M: Name one book, one song, one artwork that you really like or that inspires you, or just purely represents your being.
P: Improbable singular answer...
M: A new skill or activity you want to learn to do or start doing in the near future?
P: I don't pre-define the skill sets I prefer to dive in, but rather, try to keep planned projects. I'm sure the next project will expand my skill set in many branches however it's not easy to label any of them before the encounter.