[UDC Report] Blockchain calls out on art
[UDC2019 Report]-9 Kevin Abosch sold a digital photo of an “organic potato” for £750,000 pounds. The image had no physical form. “People who buy and sell bitcoin ask me what is the value of my work if it can’t be seen and hung on the wall--it’s absurd bitcoin traders would ask me that,” he said. Culture and art are fields where calculating tangible value is impossible, and therefore price is based on interpretation. Abosch’s piece was valued based on his status based on a portfolio of portraits that include director Steven Spielberg and Johnny Depp. Is the 1.2-billion won “Forever Rose” a photo or a coin? Kevin Abosch responds to this question by referencing “Forever Rose”-–a project that combines cryptocurrency and digital photography and the tokenization of artwork invisible to the human eye. Abosch encrypted a digital image of a rose and issued an ERC-721-based token, ROSE. There is only one single ROSE token in the world. More than 1.5 million bidders rallied worldwide to purchase this one-and-only “artwork,” and Abosch changed his original plan to sell it to one person and eventually increased this number to 10, raising 1.2 billion won in total. Forever Rose was valued at 1.2 billion won—but is it a photograph or a token? Abosch recalls a conversation he had with a friend working at a stock exchange who once told him why people buy artwork—to experience the piece, to be in the same space with the art work, to show the world that they have fine taste in art and lastly, for investment purposes. The friend had told to keep it a secret, but normally people buy art for two of the four reasons above. This backs the assumption that the intention of ROSE’s buyers was not to experience the work but to possess a token that was supposed to be exclusive in the world. Hockney’s piece with a 9,900 won price tag? Tokenization of art enables anybody to own a piece of a pricy artwork. Artbloc is a blockchain-base art investment platform. On its website, two 2018 pieces by British painter David Hockney—Pictured Gathering with Mirror and Focus Moving—were divided into tokens, each selling for 9,900 won. Hockney’s paintings have sold for more than those of any other living artist. Tokenizing art also provides new opportunities for artists. The traditional art market was centered on auctions and a small number of brokers. This resulted in asymmetry of information and high fees—both of which can be addressed through tokenization. The public can have access to transparent information and lower prices through fractional ownership. The more people engage in the purchase, the more liquidity flows in the market—and this expands opportunity for minor artists to meet with the public, which in the past would have been difficult apart from those hand-picked by art galleries. “Blockchain shifts the power of institutions to individuals,” said Abosch. “The technology can bring power to artists and creators” Blockchain to decide SM’s future SM Entertainment Joo Sang-sik, head of CT-AI team, announced plans to adopt blockchain to protect music copyright and enhance transparency for transaction records. SM aims to use the blockchain as a platform for value in the entertainment industry. One goal is to protect copyright for albums and other musical work. Bugs and CJ Olive Networks have already applied blockchain to protect intellectual property. CJ uses the Amazon Managed Blockchain from Amazon Web Services. Entertainment company adoption of blockchain also offers a way for profit making as it helps protect copyright and compensate artists. “Blockchain can help in enforcing a virtuous cycle to support the work of artists and compensate them based on their efforts and contributions,” said Joo. ※UDC 2019 videos and presentations can be found at https://udc.upbit.com/program/detailed_program, also the full report can be found at https://static.upbit.com/reports/udc2019_report_en.pdf. This report was sponsored by Upbit, and the information in it is based on the Upbit Developer Conference held at Grand Hyatt Incheon on Sept. 4 and 5.