HomeStart BuildingBlog
21.12.2021

Beyond The Partnership: Interview With The .ART Team

Earlier this month, we were excited to announce our latest partnership with .ART - the world's top-level domain created for the international art and culture community.

Our cooperation with .ART will take on the shape of an NFT-based marketplace, allowing artists of the .ART community to mint, buy, sell or exchange non-fungible tokens of their creations. Wakatta will also enable on-chain auctions, NFT ownership certificates, incentives for artist collaborations, among many other features that will better serve the digital needs of the art world.

Following the announcement of our partnership, we had the opportunity of speaking with .ART founder Ulvi Kasimov and Kurt Pritz, member of .ART’s Strategic Planning Board, for more insights into our collaboration and the future of art in these times of rapid technological change.

Could you briefly introduce .ART and its mission?

Ulvi: Today, as things stand, art has become a commodity. Initially, the idea behind .ART was to create instruments that would allow us to convert art into an asset. Taking a look back in time, looking at the bronze and steel artworks produced in Ancient Greece or Rome, we can see that entire civilizations have left us their culture and cultural artifacts as a legacy. And, of course, there are many examples of such throughout history. But taking a closer look at what makes art or a cultural object valuable, aside from provenance for example, is the information about that object. However, information isn't always able to be converted into a tradable form. This is where technology, and more importantly a form of technology that is 100 percent accepted according to the world's technological standards, steps in. Speaking of domain protocols, blockchain is a technology that gives us a very interesting and promising technological solution. This allows us to have a foundation from where we can build all what is necessary for the art community inside the .ART global infrastructure.

Kurt: One of Ulvi's approaches to providing improvements for various communities is to scan the horizon for those lacking in infrastructure and that could benefit from it. Years ago, ICANN, who oversees the part of the internet that deals with domain names, went through a process where you could apply for and win a top-level domain such as .ART and so Ulvi thought that the Domain Name System could be a key to the infrastructure that the art community lacked. Ultimately, Ulvi and his team won the right to operate .ART. Since then, we have been marrying the well-established and decentralised domain name technology with the arising technology and the benefits offered by the blockchain and non-fungible tokens or NFTs. This is the infrastructure we're offering as the technical partner to the art community and to artists, which is expanding as the technology keeps evolving.

How do you see the rise of NFTs in the current context of world art?

Kurt: We all know the origin of blockchain and the first uses of it, and the story behind digital currencies. What we saw was the decentralized nature of blockchain as being an excellent partner to the Domain Name System. This is the basis for the .ART product, “Digital Twin,” where a domain name and its accompanying registration data identifies and stores the identifying characteristics of the artwork. That is coupled in a powerful combination with a set of blockchain transactions also associated with the artwork to provide clear evidence of provenance. Each time an artwork is sold or new information is acquired, those data changes are memorialized in the blockchain, permanently and in an decentralized way, that provides authoritative evidence of the artwork’s provenance and authenticity. The art world and others are coming to understand the applications and value of blockchain and NFTs in the context of art and cultural objects. In essence, it is information and the accessibility of that information that makes artwork valuable. We see the powerful combination of domain names and blockchain as serving that need.

Looking specifically at this partnership, why did you decide to pursue it - and what will be the benefits you're hoping to get from it?

Kurt: With the rise in use of blockchain, we've combined the Digital Twin product and how domain names are employed with these new technologies. In addition, we have provided an easy-to-use tool for artists to engage with and use these cutting-edge tools. We've been working with various blockchain platforms in order to make our products available to all but noticed that Wakatta was taking a different approach to how the blockchain is implemented.

Ulvi: Wakatta started developing the blockchain idea much earlier than others, which is very exciting. Looking back, humanity had nature and then it created a second type of nature that became industrialized. I’d call this an artificial landscape. And now we are in the process of creating a third nature related to the virtual world. What Wakatta developed is our inevitable future. With this partnership, we are linking a portal like .ART to that future environment. This is a very strategic and an important step for us.

Kurt: The .ART Digital Twin product attaches domain names to individual artworks to provide a chain of custody for an artwork. The Wakatta blockchain is the perfect vehicle to help us address that issue. A Digital Twin domain name registration in .ART, automatically gives rise to a blockchain transaction that stores the artwork metadata, based on a Getty-developed standard for identifying artwork. Every time that metadata changes, a new blockchain transaction creates an immutable chain of custody that will enhance the value of the artwork. In addition, we created a very simple way for artwork owners to mint their own NFTs.

Will the blockchain and NFTs serve as the catalyst for new eras in art?

Kurt: Yes. The artworld is bifurcated. A good portion of artists are tech-savvy, knowledgeable and deeply involved in the development of NFTs. They ably mint and offer NFTs. But a significant portion of the art community is not technically astute. As technical partner to the art community, .ART seeks to simplify the use of domain names, blockchain and NFTs and to provide a platform for artists to display and sell their work in a safe way that preserves their intellectual property. Domain names and blockchain provide a tool that stores the artwork information in a way that makes the artwork more valuable but is also easy to use. The potential applications of NFTs are still developing, and we, as many others, want to be well positioned to take advantage of that and make whatever benefits come from the development of blockchain and NFTs. .ART wants to make those available to the art community at the earliest instance.

Ulvi: Art is artificial, it is made by human beings. Nature and artificial are two poles. Art is a feature of human beings and technology is just a vessel that forms that very feature. Imagine being in the Stone Age and looking at cave pictures. From there to oil and canvas, I see that jump as being much more revolutionary than an NFT is to us today. I think that technology, be that a brush, a canvas or photography, it's just an instrument to construct another layer of artificial insight.

In my opinion, what stands as the most important aspect brought on by crypto and all its related achievements, is not that culture has become unique but that it can be saved for future generations to see and enjoy. That's more relevant than focusing solely on artists being able to track their rights or ascertaining the provenance of a particular piece, is that technology is giving us an instrument through which modern artists can bring their voice into the future.

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