The Intersection of Techne and Art | Chris Perkins, CEO | March 1, 2022
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, for short, are coming more and more into everyday life. From the SNL skit to Jimmy Fallon’s purchase of a Bored Ape, NFTs have hit the mainstream. In 2020 and 2021, NFTs controlled a market of $22 billion and $41 billion, respectively (source).
Since I first heard of them, I’ve been consumed by the subject. I’m always looking to learn more about the different use cases for NFTs and I even opened a business to give myself the excuse to keep researching and learning about them!
In this blog we will discuss various topics, at a high level, about NFTs and why I decided to join a partnership and business dedicated to making people successful with NFTs. There’s a lot to cover so let’s dig in.
The tech industry is the prevailing economic force with the use of information technology as the single most transformative attribute. People are becoming more interested in NFTs every month and part of the reason for the interest is due to the benefits that come with NFTs.
On the top, a timechart showing the Google search trends for “nfts” in the United States, over the last twelve months. Below, is a timechart comparison of various Google search terms (“nfts,” “bitcoin,” and “ethereum”).
As a technologist interested in art, culture, community, and sociology, I want to find new use cases that leverage NFTs to enhance or augment the way we live life. How can we bring more of our physical-ness into our digital lives using NFTs?
These collectible digital assets/tokens can be traded digitally through the blockchain network. They are all one-of-a-kind, unique items, owned by individuals on an incorruptible database. The blockchain certificate that comes with digital items on the blockchain technology is the guarantor of their provenance, their previous ownership, and their total authenticity as a sellable item. Because of the way it is added to the blockchain, this blockchain certificate can be viewed by almost everyone, but there is no ability to change or alter the certificate. It can be distributed without the risk of losing any ownership of a design or an artwork and its value is assured.
I’ve always been fascinated with technology. When I was around 10 years old, my aunt gave my brother and I her old computer, an Apple IIe. I was immediately captivated by games like the Oregon Trail and that fish game. I remember it booted up without a disk once, and all it had was a black screen with a white blinking cursor at the bottom left. I would type in random words and would get error after error. Then one time, I entered the word ‘cat’ and later realized that it was returning the contents of the current disk directory. There have been many more moments when the thing I learned about technology pleasantly surprised me. I continue to hunt for these surprising moments in cybersecurity and now in blockchain and NFTs.
Technology has solved many problems throughout the ages. Technology has also provided a platform for artists, entertainers, and musicians for centuries. Technology has afforded us world-wide connectivity, efficient and easy-to-use payment systems, and has provided the infrastructure for expansive social networks to thrive. Now, with blockchain technology, we have trustless networks that allow us to transact with one another without a middleman. No arbiter, no escrow, and no intermediary required.
Technology is engineered to be user friendly. Case in point: the iPhone 3GS was released to the public on June 17, 2009 loaded with iOS 3.0 which added the user-friendly feature: cut, copy, and paste.
I remember jailbreaking each iOS version to unlock more features and functionality. I remember one of the “coolest” hacks was when you hold the iPhone icons for 3 seconds, they all fell to the bottom of the screen – as if they were previously hanging by a string that was just cut.
As you begin to use and work with NFTs and those ecosystems, just remember that the early adopters of the iPhone platform had to type things by hand (or figure, as it were) until iOS version 3.0. Technology – like smartphones – has become available to many people over the years, and that is only increasing. These devices have unlocked opportunities for many people who create art using a camera, audio recordings, and video recordings. These platforms have reduced the cost and time of production that artists spend allowing them to ponder or express themselves more.
Technology, in general, has always been part of art. What I am referring to is new or emerging technology that is highly innovative and perhaps, bleeding edge. We once had to extract pigment out of flowers for color; now we simply adjust the slider to set the saturation level within Photoshop.
Technology has revolutionized human expressions that include painting, drawing, sculpture and music, as well as poetry and music; by implementing new tools that are helpful to the artists and that contribute to the creative process by leading it towards inventive and unexplored directions.
“Technology, like art, is a soaring exercise of the human imagination. Art is the aesthetic ordering of experience to express meanings in symbolic terms, and the reordering of nature–the qualities of space and time–in new perceptual and material form. Art is an end in itself; its values are intrinsic. Technology is the instrumental ordering of human experience within a logic of efficient means, and the direction of nature to use its powers for material gain. But art and technology are not separate realms walled off from each other. Art employs techne, but for its own ends. Techne, too, is a form of art that bridges culture and social structure, and in the process reshapes both.” – Daniel Bell, The Winding Passage: Essays and Sociological Journeys, 1960-1980
Techne: Making or doing vs. knowledge and understanding.
These new platforms, marketplaces, and mediums allow art to be consumed in a more direct way. Just like the internet allowed for people to be social in a digital way, web3 will enable people to interface with the web in a more embodied way.
A constant transformation is occurring in the ways in which art is created, viewed, experienced, shared, consumed, and subsequently sold. It is now easier for people to access art, participate in artists’ communities, and interact with artists thanks to technology. For many artists, modern life has been made easier by the internet’s ability to allow art to be consumed in a more direct manner, expanding the artists’ audience by widening and diversifying it.
Artists started transitioning from being painters and sculptures that used paint and cement into digital artists and 3D artists, using imaging software and different materials to create works of art. Artists have had access to new means of expression for a very long time because of technology.
Connecting with other artists and gaining inspiration from their work is another way computer technology is used by artists.
NFT technology provides new business models for artists. In the Pacific Northwest, one artist transformed old cigarette vending machines and when the visitor swipes the card or inserts coins, the machine fulfills the contract and vends original art.
NFT technology provides a new experience for viewers. The Mutoscope is an early motion picture coin-operated device. Once the patron deposited coins, frame after frame would play before the viewer’s eyes. This gave people a new way to interact with and experience art.
As we live in a technology-driven world, both art and blockchain technology are converging and reshaping each other.
Artists are usually first to innovate with new technology. NFTs are no exception. The rise of NFTs and marketplaces like OpenSea and Rarible in 2021 has raised a lot of eyebrows and got the attention of millions of people all over the globe. By now you’ve heard the stories about Beeple’s record-breaking sale and projects like BAYC and CryptoPunks. We don’t have time to get into any specific project here but I do want to discuss why art is (so far) the primary use case for NFTs.
NFTs have caused the art world to undergo a drastic transformation. As art enmeshes with NFT and blockchain technologies, artists are able to explore the space in-between art, technology, community, culture, utility, and experience.
New Mexico NFTs, LLC was established to be a bridge between artists and the web3 ecosystems emerging. One of our first projects includes exploring new ways to connect physical art with a “mirror” image in the digital world. As I was researching for this blog post I wanted to know what the definition of art is.
Well, there doesn’t seem to be a mutual agreement on the definition of “art” but I know it is incredibly important to us as individuals and a society. We use the arts for our entertainment, cultural appreciation, aesthetics, personal improvement, and even social change.
theartist.me says: Art can be considered powerful because of the following reasons, among others:
For the ancient Greeks, when techne appears as art, it is most often viewed negatively; whereas when used as a craft, it is viewed positively because a craft is the practical application of an art, rather than art as an end in itself (from Wikipedia).
New Mexico NFTs, LLC is exploring ways to leverage blockchain technology to assist artists with capturing and including metadata in the smart-contract to ensure exact display and viewing parameters are carried forward. If an artist produced artwork and encouraged others to remix or remake the original work, the smart-contract’s metadata could also include information on how to most efficiently and properly remake the artwork, for example.
In my research I found a very interesting project called FACT. The Fine Art Collectable Token. Here’s a snippet from their website. With this framework and the intention of preserving specific details about a piece, the value of the piece will reflect the additional information and effort put forth.
“The Fine Art Collectible Token (FACT) aims to reimagine what is possible, bringing superior production, experience, provenance and authenticity auditing to the domain of collectibles. The FACT framework raises the bar for art, offering a path that will deliver a robust experience in art appreciation, rigid provenance and optionality for collectors when it comes to the medium of production and ownership.”
“The four pillars of a FACT intend to bring the NFT space forward and utilize existing technology to improve every aspect of the art work in an innovative way. As the technology evolves so will the concept of FACT.”
To be a patron is to give money or other support to a person, organization, cause, or activity. Patronage is to give regular support to a store, artist, or public service by a person or group. The word patron is based on the Latin word, patronus, which means ‘protector of clients, defender.’
People have supported particular artists, entertainers, or teachers and those same artists, entertainers, and teachers have protected their ability to serve or provide services to their clients. NFTs are simply a layer on top of everything that has existed for tens of thousands of years.
NFTs allow someone to earn relationships and actively build community. These transactions create value – social and monetary value – for a market looking to spend their money on high value items or services. The wider the community, the wider the marketplace. But what is “value”? There are two main definitions of the meaning of value. First and foremost, value is a principle or standard, as of behavior, that is important or desirable. Secondly, value is to rate or evaluate something according to a relative estimate of worth or desirability.
In economics especially, an object or service’s value is typically defined as the price that it would bring on an open, fair, and competitive marketplace. The marketplace price determination is identified based on the object’s relative supply and demand in society.
I’d like to call out a few things that I think create value. First, something called the subjective quotient – which basically means: one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
Next is something called Provenance, which can be defined as the history of a valued object or work’s ownership over its history. Think: Kings of Leon, Nike, or NBA. Thanks to blockchain technology, the provenance of all digital items, the brands, and the influential people they came from can be accurately traced and tracked, with platforms such as Opensea, Raible, and others.
The last thing I’ll mention is: utility. There are six types of utility to consider. I won’t go into each one, but they are:
There are many characteristics of utility that you can check out here if you’re interested. Hint: psychological, relative, and intensity of want.
New Mexico NFTs believe utility can be personal, familial, societal, or public (i.e., open to all to use). NFTs can provide the following utility to holders:
NFTs seek to combine artwork and utility in order to stand out now that markets are exceedingly saturated with art. A simple digital piece can be accompanied by numerous openings for services and benefits contributing to everlasting NFT versatility in our everyday lives. We have only scratched the surface on the function of NFTs. As the crypto space continues to progress at a rapid pace, it is reasonable to believe that more initiatives in the future will further induce NFTs to become a permanent part of our everyday lives.
Why is community the secret to NFT success? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss!
“Art speaks the soul of its culture.” – Abby Willowroot
Culture means the patterns and characteristics of human behavior, and all that entails in terms of religion, beliefs, social norms, arts, customs, and habits that we possess. Culture is shared. Culture is learned, and it is not biological. It is not programmed, it is not automatic, but it is not something that we can avoid becoming part of. And cross-culturally, these norms are allowing us to reach each other across what sometimes seems to be unfathomable distances.
“It is shared behavior; the result of humanity trying to negotiate the world it finds itself in and thriving as it does.” theartist.me
This is our time, this is our cultural movement. Technology hasn’t changed what we do but it has changed how we do and think about the same things we have done in the past.
How will you represent and create culture in the metaverse? Again, let’s discuss!
“Nowadays, artists don’t use technological innovations only as assistants in their creative process. Many artists and art professionals are transforming the art world by leveraging these powerful technologies and tools as an art and design medium, allowing them to create striking, immersive, and highly engaging art pieces that are new and multi-disciplinary mixed media art and installations.” – Artdex
As a result of digital art techniques such as 3D virtual reality (VR) and computer graphics, traditional art forms are being remixed by artists yet again! We are living in exciting times and it is interesting to see things unfold and expand… into the metaverse!
(You might be asking: what is skeuomorphism? Click the link for more info!)
Where do you think the most advancements of NFT development will occur? Let’s discuss!
What an incredibly important topic? I would love to hear your thoughts on this and what you think about the future of crypto. For me, the first question I have is how can we approach this question? Is there a wall of energy protecting the network or is this piece of software using more than its fair share?
The global banking industry, for instance, consumes about 263 Terawatt hours per year in energy, according to a NASDAQ research report.
How much does all cryptocurrency consume? Let’s discuss!
There is disproportional scrutiny on NFTs – and crypto in general – because of the built-in transparency features. No other industry is as transparent or traceable.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Hop over to our Discord and to discuss!
New Mexico NFTs believes that there is a bright future in this new medium. We believe that any artist can and should tap into the powerful blockchain technology at some point. New Mexico NFTs envisions a world where artists can extend their creative liberties and reach new audiences excited to collect and appreciate their work.
While the history of NFTs is intriguing, the future of NFTs has endless opportunities as the new space transitions from raw and experimental to exceedingly more useful and mainstream. Through tokenization, programmability, collaboration, royalties, and more direct connections between artists and collectors, NFTs may soon be a technology vital to everyday life. Concepts like DAOs, token-based metaverses, community-owned financial protocols, and NFT art were small scale experiments just a few years ago. Now they represent multi-billion dollar communities that combine protocol-driven design, tokenomics, and governance as global collectives on the internet. It may be challenging to predict the future, but for digital art collecting, it’s safe to say we have yet to imagine the extent of what will emerge in decades to come.
I look forward to seeing how art and technology continue to define reshape the world we live in.
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