In its broadest sense, “digital art” refers to art that is made or presented using digital technologies. This art relies to some degree on computational process and evolves in pace with technological developments. Although the earliest examples date back to the 1960s, digital graphics in particular have developed over the last decades at great speed and scale, moving from 2D to 3D to augmented and virtual reality in a context of ever-increasing interaction with the spectator. With the rise of the crypto-art movement, digital art has taken on a new artistic and market value in recent years.
Crypto-art is digital art linked to blockchain technology that allows a piece of art to be owned, transferred and sold in a secure and verifiable way. Blockchain systems became accessible in 2017 to a whole new generation of artists close to the tech world. The concept is based on the idea of digital scarcity, which allows digital goods to be bought, sold and exchanged as if they were physical goods. Just as an original painting signed by Picasso can have its authenticity and ownership authenticated, crypto-art can be verified using an NFT.
An NFT or a non-fungible token is a digital certificate that represents a unique ID linked to a physical or digital asset. This token testifies the characteristics, originality and single ownership of the asset and cannot be replicated, because it is registered in unalterable records based on blockchain technology. The ‘original’ file of an NFT is stored on the Blockchain, but whoever buys an NFT is not necessarily buying the copyright to the item but usually a certificate that verifies its ownership. This process renders a piece unique, traceable and exchangeable, while increasing the autonomy of artists.
The term blockchain refers to a decentralised global account book whose register unmistakably assigns the respective ownership. The term “chain” refers to the information / transactions which are added in chronological order. Each transaction made within the network is entered into the register, line by line. The data is then grouped into “blocks” and the record cannot be changed, only expanded with each transaction. This technology was first introduced in 2008 by an anonymous inventor (or group of inventors) under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto as the concept for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
There has been fierce criticism of the high energy consumption of certain blockchains, but many sustainable blockchains have become widespread (Tezos, Solana, Polygon, etc.) and large blockchains such as Etherium are also following suit.
Cryptocurrency is digital currency in which transactions are verified and records maintained by a decentralised system using cryptography, rather than by a centralized authority. Those transactions take place are written in an open-source software that can be publicly verified. Apart from the celebrated Bitcoin and Ethereum, there are currently over 10,000 active cryptocurrencies. Traditional currencies are usually referred to as Fiats.
“Minting” is the act of publishing an NFT certificate on a blockchain to make an asset purchasable. Once minted, a piece of digital art acquires the features of an NFT, by becoming unique, traceable and exchangeable. The publication and further transactions take place in an NFT marketplace such as Rarible, OpenSea, SuperRare or Formfunction.
A smart contract is a self-executing contract or IT protocol with the terms of an agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code. Smart contracts facilitate, verify or ensure compliance with the execution of a contract. These usually contain contractual clauses that follow the “if / then” function: i.e. if a given condition predetermined by the parties to the contract occurs, then an agreed action will take place. To ensure that the contract is not altered, it is recorded on blockchain technology, thus guaranteeing its integrity and security.
A wallet is an app that allows cryptocurrency users to store and retrieve their digital assets, including NFTs. This is an application that stores passwords linked to these assets. Each wallet must be compatible with the blockchain of the respective stored token. For instance, to access your crypto funds on Tezos and view collected Tezos NFTs, you must use a Tezos wallet.
WEB3 is the name some technologists have given to the idea of a new kind of internet that is built using decentralised blockchains. The term has been around for years, but it has come into vogue recently. Proponents envision WEB3 taking many forms, including decentralised social networks, “play-to-earn” video games that reward players with crypto tokens, and NFT platforms that allow people to buy and sell fragments of digital culture. The more idealistic ones say that WEB3 will transform the internet as we know it, upending traditional gatekeepers and ushering in a new, decentralised digital economy.
POAP (pronounced poh-ap) is an acronym for Proof of Attendance Protocol. These NFT badges are given out to prove attendance of an event, whether it took place virtually or in the real world. Each badge is unique, meaning that the only way to get a certain POAP is to be at the event.