Non-Fungible Use Case: Photography Exhibition

NFTs are democratizing, great news! But the problems of use between the virtual and real world are still numerous, precisely how do you use it on a daily basis? In this new series of articles we’ll take a closer look at the use cases that mix real and virtual worlds.

besancia2021-02-02

Introduction

In the face of successive lockdowns during 2020, the world was forced to adopt a digital lifestyle, this shift impacted the cultural sector who were no longer able to operate in the real world. This physical limitation has led a large number of Artists to take an interest in NFTs and their potential use. Thanks to an enthusiastic and friendly community who were happy to see all these new Artists arrive, many have had a great first NFT experience.

Now that intermediate solutions have been found for Covid 19, parts of the World have been allowed to move somewhat more freely again and cultural life is attempting to resume its course with new initiatives that mix the virtual and the real world beginning to emerge

The ability that the Blockchain has to be used for ‘timestamping’ and NFTs as certificates of authenticity, have given new ideas to creators.  Collectors and Artists can now operate in a Peer to Peer environment, the Blockchain also radically reduces the risk of counterfeiting, monitoring of works and collections is easier and even to simply be able to offer a new experience is of value, the advantages provided by this decentralized Universe are immense. 

Suppose a Photographer wants to exhibit and sell a set of 3 photos, 10 prints of each. In the NFT space several solutions are available to them, ranging from releasing in a 100% virtual environment all the way through to being able to conceal the use of Blockchain as much as possible.

Scenario 1: Full Blockchain!

In this scenario, everything is organized in a digital space and as decentralised much as possible. We will not be talking about dedicated Art Marketplaces here because their entry process can sometimes be long and very selective. It is quite possible to organize your Digital Exhibition independently, but this will require several levels of preparation, both for the Photographer and for the public. 

Step 1: Preparation

First, you need to create a Cryptocurrency wallet that will interact with the Ethereum Blockchain. To do this, simply install Metamask (following the step-by-step tutorial) and drop some Ether into it. This can be thanks to a friend who has agreed to exchange Fiat for Eth or via an exchange platform (like Coinbase, Binance or Wyre which is implemented in Metamask).

Next comes the question of the sale as well as the certification of the photos on the Blockchain. Although the photos will be sent by post, buyers still need to be able to view them online and verify from home that the author is who they say they are.

Step 2: Creation

To ensure the greatest possible decentralization and interoperability, it is advisable to use a reference platform such as Opensea. This marketplace offers the creation of collections as well as the “mint” of NFTs for free!

There are of course others like Rarible or Mintbase which have other tools and features, but at the moment the price of transaction fees is high.

Once the collection (which represents a smart contract) is created, the creation or ‘mint’ of the new object will require you to enter certain information:

  • The content (image, video, audio, etc.)
  • The name of the work
  • An external link (for example to offer a hard copy)
  • A description
  • The number of editions

For three different photos, there will therefore be three NFTs to create.

Generally, the creation of a smart-contract as well as the mint of each edition normally costs transaction fees which can be quite high!

Opensea has set up a system so that only the metadata is visible at first and it will be the transaction fees paid by the buyer that will ‘really’ allow the appearance on the NFT Blockchain. Once this transaction has been completed, it will no longer be possible to change or delete the collection!

Once this information is entered on Ethereum, anyone can publicly verify the provenance of the transaction to its origin. This means that even if the NFT is sold 100 times on the Secondary Market, it will still be possible to identify its original author.

Step 3: The Exhibition

Now that NFTs are accessible to everyone, we will have to give them more visibility. As part of a Virtual Exhibition, there are now two projects that can host it: Decentraland and CryptoVoxels.

These two virtual worlds share in common the decentralized aspect of the land found there but each have their own identity.

Ideally, if the Photographer wishes to have his own personalized gallery, he will have to first purchase a piece of land in the form of an NFT attached to the project. But as the LAND market on Decentraland or CryptoVoxels has become quite expensive, Fortunately there are more affordable solutions such as the possibility of renting land for a defined period.

For Decentraland, before looking for a lease, it is necessary to build your own gallery using the project’s Builder tool or SDK. NFTs appear at the bottom of the list of ‘Asset Packs’ and can therefore be displayed in the space according to their creators preference.

For CryptoVoxels, it is necessary to have a LAND before you can build on it. It will be necessary to establish a contract of trust beforehand with a land owner so that he can exhibit your work in his Gallery. As this Metaverse has been very invested and dedicated towards Crypto Artists, projects like MoCA are aware of the question of art and can best help prepare for the Exhibition.

In both cases, it will be possible to purchase the exhibited works directly from a web browser. All that remains is to share the link to the community when the event is launched for the Exhibition to begin!

Scenario 2: Blockchain for me, not for them.

In this scenario, the exposure must take place in the real world and the public has no technical knowledge of Crypto. The Photographer wants to minimize the use of the Blockchain for this first experience.

To ensure that this exhibition runs as smoothly as possible and that anyone can buy photos from it, only the signature will be registered on the Blockchain.

Step 1: Sensitization

Since people with an awareness of the artistic world are used to trying new experiences that take them out of their comfort zone, there is a good chance they will willingly visit a Virtual World Exhibition.

However, some investors will still need to be reassured and the announcement of the technical innovation of the exhibition should contain several important pieces of information:

  • The author’s signature will not be on the photos
  • It can be verified in a tamper-proof manner before purchasing the photo by anyone

There are many resources that surround Cryptocurrencies, but to make sure everyone understands what it is, the Bitcoin Blockchain will be used.

It is important to focus on the problems that Blockchain solves (trustless, no third party control and transparency of information in a database) rather than speaking of financial investment.

Step 2: Sign and Certificate

Once the public realizes that they have an opportunity to verify the provenance of the photo, they will definitely want to give it a try!

This operation is very simple, just go to bitcoin.com for example to find a free tool. With just a few clicks, anyone can verify the signature of a transaction message on this Blockchain thanks to three elements:

  • The public address of the author’s portfolio
  • The exact message contained in the transaction
  • The signing of the transaction

To provide this information, the photographer will have the choice between two options: do the procedure himself or go through a trusted third party.

Perform the operation yourself

You will first need to host your photo file on a decentralized server system (IFPS). Then, create a dedicated Bitcoin wallet and communicate the public address to as many people as possible so that officially everyone knows that the author has the private keys and therefore the possibility to sign.

The URL link to access the photo will be the message signed during the transaction on the Blockchain.

While managing the private keys of a Bitcoin wallet is something the photographer doesn’t feel confident about, they can delegate this task to someone else as well.

Carry out the operation by a trusted third party

There are several companies that offer tools to perform this operation, we will mention two of them here.

Woleet : startup allowing above all to sign official documents in companies. Running on a subscription system, the first week serves as a trial version to discover the different features offered Timestamping, E-signature, etc.

The advantage is that the company manages all the technical aspects but the disadvantages will be found in the possession of its private keys and the limitation to be able to verify the information only from their site.

Verisart : The site is dedicated to creators wishing to sign their works on the Blockchain. Free registration allows you to create certificates, share them via social network, print PDF certificates and transfer them to new owners.

The first level of subscription ($10/month) and offers other advantages such as personalization or control of the confidentiality of the certificate.

For our scenario, it will be the free Verisart solution that we will use.

Step 3: The Exhibition

Now that everything is in place, the Exhibition can begin! If the experience concerns only the exhibition, the verification and distribution of the certificates of the photos can be done directly on site using all the elements given above.

But with a longer-term vision, it will be necessary to remember to keep the possibility of verifying artworks for the Secondary Market. The best compromise is to put the QR code provided by Verisart at the back of the photos so that anyone can find out who the author is just by scanning it!

Even if the Photographer can be sure that the certificate was given to the buyer during the first sale, it cannot guarantee that a potential secondary reseller will be forgotten regardless of the method used.

Conclusion

The two scenarios presented above are of course not set in stone and have been entirely imagined. There are still very few such initiatives in the real world that have made concrete use of Blockchain possible at Exhibitions.

In both scenarios there are advantages and disadvantages, here is a non-exhaustive list.

  • Pros of the first scenario: Public already aware of Crypto, very long-term conservation of works, security, transparency, interoperability between platforms of the same Blockchain.
  • Cons: Access for non-crypto-aware public, LANDS prices, Crypto volatility, definitive errors.
  • Pros of the second scenario: Access for non-crypto-aware public, ease of use, modification in case of error.
  • Cons: Non-visible secondary market, dependence (if using a third party for the signature), centralization, degradation of the artwork.

The growing NFT auction market has reached the world of Gallery owners who have heard about this new creative avenue and are starting to take an interest in it. In anticipation of possible future confinement due to the Pandemic, Artists will not be able to continue to depend on government opinions to continue to make a living from their works.

So there are still a lot of experiments to be carried out to find the right balance between real and virtual even if ultimately it depends on the artistic direction the author wants to give to his Exhibition.

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