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Rare Digital Art Ownership Visualization

Rare Digital Art Ownership Visualization by Joe Chiappetta
Rare Digital Art Ownership Visualization by Joe Chiappetta is available on MakersPlace

In understanding any new concept, it often helps to provide visuals. This is definitely the case with rare digital art. As a new ecosystem to release, catalog, sell and collect digital art, the growing field of rare digital art is fascinating for a number of reasons. For the first time ever, digital art can be coded to be entirely rare, sales could happen instantly and internationally through new monetary systems, royalties for secondary art sales can be built right into the market, the art can be sold for a fixed price or auctioned, artists can issue super-rare editions of only 1 or limited-editions such as 1 of 10. Mind you, I am only mentioning just a few of rare digital art's exciting features.

To illustrate what actually goes on when a person owns rare digital art, I have drawn up an imaginary universe where digital concepts are as tangible as the toes on your feet. Art collectors can buy this particular piece of rare digital art on the MakersPlace marketplace. It is a comical drawing that depicts a world lined with chains of data held in sequential blocks. That's where we get the term "blockchain." When someone buys rare digital art, they are actually buying a unit of cryptocurrency. Their account on the blockchain gives them a private key whereby only they can sell that crypto if they find a buyer. All this is packaged in an orderly and cryptographic manner on the blockchain. These blocks of ownership data are uniquely linked together so that the order and the data cannot be changed. Therefore the data on this blockchain has a decent semblance of permanence.

Is Art Really On the Blockchain?

While important data about art is permanently on the blockchain, what about the actual art's permanence? The art on the blockchain is a different, yet completely related story. In most cases, the actual art image is (gulp) not hosted on the blockchain. Rather the art is usually hosted the way most digital images are hosted: on a file hosting device called a server or multiple servers in physical locations, with the image being delivered (or "served") when someone on the Internet goes to a particular website (or image-enabled blockchain wallet). Therefore the art is as permanent as the Internet, the blockchain that holds the art data, and the servers that host the actual image.

With rare digital art, while the image does not truly reside on the blockchain, it's file name and web address are coded to be linked to a particular blockchain. So we can enjoy a little irony in the fact that art on the blockchain--in most cases--is not actually on the blockchain. Yet the art data, ownership and link to the art are on the blockchain.

Is Rare Digital Art Actually Rare?

While we are on the subject of irony, there is one more big one to cover. In the case of rare digital art, the art is... uh... not actually rare. In most cases, the art image is announced and uploaded to at least a few social media sites, plus the artist's blog, and then people share it over and over again on social media. Servers deliver the image to everyone viewing the art on the marketplace. So copies of the art are all over the place. Nothing rare about that. Yet as discussed in the previous section, all that doesn't matter--not one bit. What is rare is the crypto token that the art collector buys. That token cannot be copied, thanks to cryptography. This is where rarity comes in. When a collector buys rare digital art, it is a statement of value. It says "this art is so valuable, that I want to be on record as its owner so I can show it off in my collection, or sell it as I see fit, and I will do it all through the only economic vehicle that represents that art: its cryptocurrency token."

It is on top of these slightly ironic cybernetic rails of truth that art and tech pioneers started rolling out this new generation of artwork. We call it new, yet this was going on as early as 2014 in small groundbreaking circles. Little did people know that history was being made, and a whole industry would rise up from these humble and virtual beginnings. Yet here we are... making history... making art (kind of) on the blockchain. It seems only fitting then, since there have been movements of impressionism, cubism, futurism, and now... there is blockchainism.

So in making such a history, writers have to write about it. Artists have to make art about it. In the case of this rare digital art, the story needs to be told--or better yet shown--regarding what a person actually owns when they purchase rare digital art. What is owned? In short, it boils down to a few blunt facts:

The Short, Blunt Answer: What Do I Own When I Buy Rare Digital Art?

  • It's nothing you can touch.
  • Your purchase helps fuel a crypto crazy creative market ecosystem.
  • You bought into a crazy risk with the potential for crazy rewards that can just as easily drop to zero in value or go sky high.
  • You own cryptocurrency with a pretty face.
  • A unique crypto token is what you own; the art is what you see.
If any of this appeals to you, then we are probably destined to be friends. So all aboard the rare digital art train!

Joe Chiappetta