The term crypto art has been coined to capture what I think is one of the greatest artistic renaissance of the 21 century. Enabled by blockchain technology, the future of artistic expression across Africa now lies in Non-fungible tokens (NFT).

In 2008, an invention took place that caused what we can call a glitch in the matrix. A group of people, or a person, working under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, released the Bitcoin whitepaper establishing the blueprint for blockchain technology. In 2009, these developers implemented the first blockchain, as a public ledger for transactions made using Bitcoin.

Blockchain technology uses cryptography encryption, to securely record information. This information is grouped into blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and transaction data. The collection of these blocks’ is referred to as a blockchain ledger. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum  & Litecoin are built on these public blockchain ledgers, managed & maintained by peer-to-peer networks. The consistent development and maturation of blockchain technology have recently further pushed its adoption in other industries, one such sector is digital art.

Non-fungible tokens

On the backbone of blockchain technology, NFTs provide a mechanism to issue a digital certificate of ownership to buyers.  Proving authentication of digital artworks.

In practice, digital assets (art, videos, images, illustrations) are assigned a digital badge, which is recorded & time stamped on a blockchain ledger. Recorded on this digital badge is information like the artist’s name, ownership over the art, time & date on the sale of artwork, etc. The effect of blockchain-enabled art adoption is that art becomes fraud-proof. The digital certificate is unique and cannot be substituted or exchanged for another artwork. It's intrinsically attached to that specific digital artwork.

"As the NFT artistic renaissance continues to mature, it's critical that Africa's participation matches the market's appetite." - Bataung Qhotsokoane (Tweet this | Share on WhatsApp)

Proof of work creates scarcity. Thus enabling digital art to be sold on the marketplace. Transactions on the sale of digital assets are enabled by smart contracts, embedded in blockchain cryptography standards. This technology has created a new economy for artists. An economy that’s decentralized, allowing artists to monetize from their art.

This artistic monetization is already manifesting in realms of online gaming e.g. Crypto Kitties & World WarCraft.  Earlier this year, digital artist Mike Winkelmann, popularly known as Beeple sold his NFT artwork for $69 million.

Africa's crypto artists

Digital artist, Jacon Osinachi, is one of Africa’s most well-known crypto artists, having showcased his artwork at the prestigious Ethereal Summit in New York. Osinachi’s ‘Mirror Mirror’ and ‘AM I Pretty’ sold for 9 ETH ($16,227) and 13.2 ETH ($23,633) respectively.

As the NFT artistic renaissance continues to mature, it's critical that Africa's participation matches the market's appetite.

As we look to millennials and generation Z’s ambition to take charge of this technology, bridging cultural art and relics into the future by digitizing and upgrading with NFT standards, ensures African cultural aspirations do not become extinct.

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