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Smarter Contracts - Tokenomics: A New Economy of Art

  • 12 January 2022, 6-7:30pm
  • Online event
Poster advertising event on Smarter Contracts

View the recording of the event below

NFTs and tokenised economies are rapidly opening up new markets for artists, sellers and collectors. Yet underneath the glossy NFT marketplaces, there are many complexities. How is the artwork represented by the NFT being stored and is it being preserved? To what degree are copyrights and moral rights asserted? How will royalties be administered? Even the authenticity of the artwork represented by the NFT is not always a settled fact. The rapid development of machine learning adds further complexity by introducing synthetic creators, digital twins, and NFTs.

Relying on marketplaces can leave artists legally and technically vulnerable, while also replicating the power dynamics of the traditional art market and corporatised internet. Artists Kevin McCoy and Rhea Myers shared their experiences of pioneering art NFTs and discussed both the benefits of minting NFTs and the pitfalls to be aware of.

Together with Primavera de Filippi, legal researcher and artist, the panel explored how creators are moving beyond basic NFT sales models and integrating the wider functionality of blockchain into their work. The experiments underway expand traditional models of IP, for example, by redesigning income distribution and royalty models or developing governance protocols around creation. These innovations could pave the way for creator rather than platform-centric economies to emerge.

How can integrating the full functionality of blockchain into the development of an artwork enable creators to directly shape the economies around it? What is in and out of the scope of the law?

Curated by Lucy Rose Sollitt

About the speakers

Kevin McCoy is a pioneering new media artist, creator of the world’s first “NFT” and founder of Monegraph art registry. Working in collaboration with Jennifer McCoy, Kevin’s practice spans film, and video installation to generative software.

Rhea Myers is an artist, hacker and writer, blockchain art theorist and pioneer. Her work places technology and culture in mutual interrogation to produce new ways of seeing the world as it unfolds around us

Primavera de Filippi is an artist and researcher whose fields of interest focus on the legal challenges raised by decentralised technologies and copyright in the digital world. Her projects include Plantoid, a blockchain based lifeform which is autonomous, self-sustainable and capable of reproducing itself.

Mark Waugh was the Director of Business Development at DACS (2014-2022). Before this, Mark worked extensively in Southeast Asia as Commissioner for emerging art fairs. He is Chair of the International Curators Forum and previously Director of A Foundation in London and Liverpool. Mark led the development of Arts Council England’s national strategy for Live Art and Performance Art; before acting as Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council England, South East. He has curated exhibitions and contributed to publications including the acclaimed 2017 book; ‘Artists: Rethinking the Blockchain’.

About the series

Blockchain is changing how art is made, sold and financed, where it circulates and who its custodians are. But can it really increase the creative and economic agency of artists?

The explosion in popularity of NFTs over the past year marks a moment of radical transformation within the art market.

For better or worse, blockchain technology is ushering in new imaginaries and is rapidly evolving alternative sales, funding and ownership mechanisms which could rewrite the rules of the traditional art world.

What are the implications of blockchain tokenomics for how art is created, sold and financed, where art circulates and who its custodians are? Will the next generation of NFT’s and DAO’s increase creative and economic agency? And if so, how can this be shared more equitably between individual creators, their collaborators and supporters?

Curated by Lucy Rose Sollitt, Tokenomics: A New Economy of Art, brought together pioneering artists and technologists, to discuss the concerns and to highlight and support thoughtful approaches that use the full potential of the technology to imagine fairer ecosystems of art making.

The series addressed the defining questions of this new era with the aim of helping artists and those working across the art market to navigate the opportunities and complexities that lie ahead.

View the recording of the rest of the events in the series