10 Aug Blockchain tech in the ancient world of Art
Blockchain is a concept that has been captivating people more and more in recent years. Kicked off in 2009 with Bitcoin, it has become popular recently both as a technical opportunity for companies globally and as a money making opportunity in the now well known crypto currency space.
Looking at the technical side, how can blockchain, the latest in digital technology apply to a completely non technical and age old industry?
The answer is: in many ways!
Art has been with human kind for thousands of years. It has been gifted, bequeathed, bought, sold, traded, stolen and copied. It is a multi trillion-dollar industry and where there’s money, there’s always someone out there looking to make a profit.
What the art environment lacks is trust – and this is what blockchain does best.
How is blockchain applied to the art ecosystem
Utilising consensus across hundreds or thousands of computer nodes, blockchain transactions are ‘trust less’. People no longer authenticate a transaction, independent nodes check for authenticity and approve or disapprove based on a multitude of criteria.
Blockchain in the art ecosystem can track titles – which up until 2018 has only ever been limited to a single business, a gallery or a local network. It records the movement of Internet of Things (IoT) tracking devices to ensure the artwork you purchased is traceable all the way to you. It also incorporates Artificial Intelligence functionality, matching the piece sold with the piece that arrives via thousands of pin points on the artwork.
On blockchain systems physical items (like a painting) are represented by a digital token. On the Ethereum system a typical ‘non fungible’ (non divisible) token is known as an ERC-721. This token holds the digital file for the artwork and is swapped on the blockchain platform when someone is transferring the title from one owner to another.
Blockchain can benefit every part of the art ecosystem: galleries, auction houses, asset backed lenders, insurance companies to name a few. One simple example is that artist’s royalties can now be pro actively looked after as a simple part of a title transfer.