The Warehouse Arts District Association (WADA) hosted Cityverse Head of Network Joe Hamilton at the Tully-Levine Arts Gallery in St Pete on Cyber Monday for a discussion about NFTs. The evening was a coordinated effort between WADA and Cityverse to form a greater bond between local artists and the emerging tech platform that can sustain their continued success.
Markus Gottschlich, executive director of WADA, introduced the evening after thirty minutes of mingling, hors d’oeuvres, and music. After the opening remarks, Hamilton began his talk in front of a gallery packed full of around 70 community members.
Hamilton introduced his presentation with a discussion of blockchain, which he simplified as “a new way to store data” that allows “security through transparency”. He went on to describe NFTs, unique digital assets stored on the blockchain. He emphasized the programmability of NFTs, which is of special interest to artists, allowing them to set a specific commission each time their NFT is resold.
The presentation ended with an introduction to Cityverse, Hamilton’s new start-up. As a hyper-localized civic platform, artists have an important role to play in this new community. In Cityverse, each artist will have the opportunity to make a Createspace where any visitor to St Pete can find and patron the artist’s gallery. NFT functionality is also built into the platform, giving local artists a new opportunity to monetize their work.
The crowd’s response to the presentation was generally positive, peppered with various levels of skepticism, curiosity, and enthusiasm. Some attendees voiced confusion about storing value in a collectible you can’t touch. One guest noted that a much of the value in works of art and historical artifacts was related to the knowledge that hands of genius
had once touched these objects. Hamilton responded that today, in the digital space, there is a new understanding of an artist’s influence. Although digital artifacts may not contain a tangible canvas, the artists’ creative energy still generated this work, perhaps with a stylus or a keyboard. NFT technology allows this effort to be memorialized in a way that mimics the scarcity and authenticity of an event or work in the physical world.
Others were curious about how NFTs would function in reality. Guests wanted to know how the tokens’ authenticity could be verified, and how they could be displayed. Hamilton introduced the idea of Block Explorers, online tools that allow people to search for a token’s transaction history on the blockchain. He suggested digital frames to display NFTs, already on the
market, would be far more common in the near future. Additionally, every Cityzen’s Homespace will include a space to display NFTs, making Hamilton’s platform a pioneer in NFT use cases.
Hamilton also answered questions about Cityverse. The platform is expected launch in Q1, with Createspaces for artists debuting toward the end of the quarter. He also assured the artists that they own everything on the platform; Cityverse is simply a place for them to share and sell their work.
After the Q&A session, local artist Carrie Jadus was invited to unveil an art piece she had created specifically for the event. The conceptual painting involved two children playing chess on a hexagonal board. Above the chess board, artists climbed rafters connected to a glass ceiling. After its completion, the art piece will be digitized, divided into pieces, and made into unique NFT Tickets to commemorate this Cyber Monday event. WADA members in attendance will receive this NFT on their Cityverse profile when they join the St Pete Cityverse in Q1.
Guests remained in the gallery after the talk to enjoy more networking opportunities. Many guests humbly noted that they always found the concept of NFTs confusing, but they felt much more comfortable with the topic after tonight. As artists gradually learn about the space, Cityverse is happy to create the opportunity for local artists to leverage this technology to their advantage.