The death of galleries: how crypto revolutionized the art world

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People gather at the Bitcoin Mining Market to celebrate BitBasel, a gathering of crypto artists, collectors and fans.

What is crypto art really and what makes it different from other art forms?

Several platforms have been created to meet the needs of artists and collectors, and more are about to be launched.

December 2020 under sunny Florida. Art Basel Miami, one of the world’s largest and most important art events, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the crypto art community is not giving up on the virus.

In Miami’s artistic Wynwood district, around 100 people gather at the Bitcoin Mining Market to celebrate BitBasel, a meeting between crypto artists, collectors and fans. We see a lot of tattoos, funky hairstyles and sexy dresses. Unlike most crypto events, the male to female ratio there is around 50/50.

A livestream connects this room on the theme of bitcoin (BTC), which notably includes a bench built from disused mining machines, and speakers from around the world. Some interviews and moderation take place on a small stage, but most of the speakers and panelists can only be seen on multiple flat screens.

About 1,000 viewers follow the event online. Two other screens feature a selection of crypto artwork, most of it vividly colored, psychedelic animation, which was selected by crypto artist Johnny Dollar for the occasion. Many of these works can be acquired and traded on a blockchain as non-fungible tokens ( NFTs ).

Crypto art, what is it?

But what is crypto-art? What is it that draws Miami’s hip crowd and online viewers around the world to this new phenomenon? What makes it different from other art forms?

The most precise definition of crypto art is this: digital art that obtains its scarcity through non-fungible tokens on a blockchain . Art can only be of value if it is scarce. Paintings and sculptures are rare by nature. The photographs, engravings or lithographs are generally limited editions signed by the artist. On the contrary, digital files can be copied endlessly without loss of quality and therefore could not be rare. At least before the invention of the blockchain.

The blockchain was created to ensure the scarcity of digital money without the need to trust a central institution. The tokens on a blockchain can also represent something other than money, and art is one of them.

However, there is a big difference between money and art. Money has to be fungible, which means it doesn’t matter whether you are paid in 20 euro bills or in euro coins. As long as the value is correct, you don’t care about the shape. The same goes for bitcoins or digital tokens. Each token that represents a value is as good as another.