ArtChain Global is a revolution in tracking, protection and accountability for artwork. Based on open, extendable blockchain technology, the ArtChain Global platform synchronizes digital and offline assets for anyone involved in trading, collecting or producing works of art.

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The National Gallery of Victoria was the appropriate setting for ArtChain Global to Launch this month. Declaring itself a serious contender to bring revolutionary blockchain technology to the art world, ArtChain Global hosted artists, galleries, media, investors, collectors and academics from the vibrant Melbourne art scene.

After many months of hard work, details of the platform made an immediate impact on an audience including prominent artists John Young and Sally Ross, and gallerist Murray White.

Nearly 200 guests heard ArtChain’s plan to create a decentralised database which will act as both a registry and trading place for art works. Using blockchain they plan to give the art world an unbroken and comprehensive chain of title for objects which is publicly searchable and tamper proof.

The ArtChain Global team were considered by guests to be courageous and bold. Guests commented positively on the decision by ArtChain to open up their idea to scrutiny and comment from the arts world through a discussion panel on the concept.

Renowned contemporary artist John Young commented on ArtChain’s vision.

“I would’ve thought that a meeting like this would have happened maybe 12 months, 24 months from today. But actually, I think that ArtChain has become the avant-garde of the art world. They’ve completely sort of outpaced the rest of the art world in terms of anticipating and giving us this new vision, so I am very, very grateful that it happened tonight.”

The launch was also an opportune moment to officially announce Swinburne University of Technology as ArtChain Global’s technology partner; the ArtChain Global platform will be developed by Swinburne’s innovation and research unit.

Swinburne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development), Professor Aleksandar Subic was jubilant in announcing his team’s involvement.

“Blockchain is at the heart of the fourth industrial revolution,” he said.

“We are excited by this partnership as it presents an opportunity for us to take world class research out of our labs and into the world of fine arts.”

Professor Subic, in his enthusiasm for the project, drew an analogy to the effect of the Medici family.

“The Medici effect occurs when you bring people from different disciplines, different industries, different fields, different cultures and you generate a breakthrough idea.”

“This is an original, comprehensive, ground-breaking development, and we are pleased to support an Australian company going global, and pushing the boundaries.”

Kay Sprague, CEO of ArtChain faced the challenge of other competitors in the market head on.

“ There are several other groups internationally who are already working to develop ways to apply this technology to the arts. We think ArtChain has an advantage in the race.”

“Our geographic location is an advantage – we sit on the edge of Asia and the booming Chinese art market. The diversity and size of the Australian art market is an advantage – it makes it easier to test ideas across a broad audience and get it right. We have expertise both in-house and in our partnerships.”

ArtChain Global aims to address issues inherent in the art world such as provenance and fraud.

Chief Risk Officer Greg Adamson said although cyberspace had not always been a place of trust, the evolution of technology was now making it more secure and beneficial to industries such as art.

“Provenance and integrity have often been a problem in the art world,” he said.

“However, this is what blockchain achieves, and it does it very well.”

The platform will also give registered artists global reach in the art market, connecting them will buyers, auction houses, galleries, curators, and talent managers worldwide.

Chief Operating Officer Cameron McQueen told the captivated audience that blockchain technology had already revolutionised other industries and the art world was now scrambling to make use of it.

“This is not about trying to change anyone’s business, or take anything away from anyone’s business, this is quite simply about adding value. “

“No other competitors are near us right now. Once people are using ArtChain Global, it will be difficult to change, so we need to be the first to get that technology out,” he said.

“It’s a race to market.”

Gallerist Murray White, founder of the Murray White Room, admitted he had had some reservations with the technology’s application to the art world, and that it would need industry input to be successful.

“I can certainly see the benefits of authentication for highly collectable objects, some decades after creation, but I also see that the authentication should be made by the artists at the point of creation, to absolutely substantiate origin. “

Whilst artist Sally Ross was excited by the challenge ahead of ArtChain Global she identified the tension of this innovative idea.

“Finding that balance between a necessary present and future technology and all the complexities of what art is – I’ve found that very fascinating.”

Victorian Multicultural Commission Chair Helen Kapalos emceed the event.

Author: Andy Walsh

Photography: Jorge de Araujo


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