For long now, authenticity and provenance have remained the bane of the art world's existence. Blockchain, however, seems to be the answer to this challenge.
Many were astonished when Beeple's 'Everydays: the First 5,000 Days', a collage of 5,000 images, became the first non-fungible token (NFT) to go under the hammer last March. However, a month before the American artist's feat, Amrit Pal Singh had fetched a jaw-dropping 15 ETH (approximately Rs 18 lakh) for his digital art - toy faces of Daft Punk on Foundation.
These are just a couple of instances that underline how crypto art is well on its way to becoming more than a buzzword in the world of art. Here is one more - Aparajita Jain, Director of Nature Morte Gallery, launched Terrain.Art - India's first open NFT marketplace dedicated to art. She wasn't following the trend but simply holding on to her belief that technology can solve many challenges in the world of art. The gallerist talks about her venture in detail.
What led you to start Terrain.Art?
Terrain began as a result of my enquiry on some fundamental issues in the art world, linked to provenance, 3D printing and the problem posed with potential 'fakes', lack of infrastructure for the arts in South Asia and extreme opacity in the arts. These factors contribute to a market that has remained small. The vision is to use technology to change these aspects and create transparency, knowledge and information.
As the platform focuses on South Asian art, what does it seek to achieve for the region's artists and how?
We have begun with South Asia because deeper problems here need to be resolved at the earliest by instituting robust systems. We want to give artists the ability to be showcased and nurtured and wish to support them in as many ways as possible. There are a few galleries in India, and they have a limited capacity of how many artists they can work with. Through Terrain.Art's technology, one can scale this and expand geographically and through different mediums of art. Since content is critical for us, we have an experienced team of curators that support the artists we represent and collaborate with.
Can you share some insights on the onboarding process for an artist? How much is the gas fee?
Terrain.art operates through Terrain Curated and Terrain Open. In the curated section, our curatorial team researches the kind of artists we should work with and on board either for a long term representation or short term collaboration. Once they are onboard, we spend a considerable amount of time understanding their practice and concerns before coming up with a plan to introduce them. Terrain Open is a new initiative to democratize the platform where any artist can sign-up, mint and sell their NFTs on the platform. It usually costs anywhere from $4 to $200 to mint an NFT Blockchain with Polygon and Binance on the lowest side and Ethereum on the highest side.
What kind of problems does blockchain solve when it comes to art?
Blockchain is unique for its ability to tokenize an asset (in this case, art and collectables) for us to create provenance for the asset and eventually give royalties. It's brilliant because it attacks the problems of fakes head-on.
Let me elaborate about the benefits:
Immutability: NFTs, like cryptocurrencies, exist on a blockchain, a tamper-resistant digital public ledger.
Valuation: NFTs have unique valuations set by the highest bidder, just like a Rembrandt or a Picasso.
Smart Contract Governed Revenue Models - many digital artists fed up with years of creating content that generates visits and engagement on Big Tech platforms like Facebook and Instagram while getting almost nothing in return have plunged headlong into the NFTs. In the case of NFTs, sales proceeds and royalties are distributed by Smart Contracts, making it a more transparent and well-audited process.
Many people find art galleries intimidating. How hopeful are you for a space like this to bridge this gap and reach out to buyers?
Terrain.Art's entire outlook is to make the process more welcoming. We do this by giving a lot more information and answering queries that could come our way from artists, buyers and art enthusiasts. We have also developed a very robust collection of educational resources on South Asian Art geared toward answering many questions about the arts and their history in the region.
What kind of effort is required to educate people about NFTs?
We are the first art platform in the country that began speaking about NFTs and their specific role in revolutionizing the arts. Alongside working with artists familiar with NFTs, we have also played a pedagogical function in making artists and the wider audience aware of the importance of the NFTs. Our team is constantly creating educational videos, FAQs, and Insta live sessions articulating some of the critical aspects of the NFT space.