Recent Explorations – Pulling Back the Curtain, Part 2

Now, some of you reading this may be thinking to yourself “I thought Todd was an environmentalist, and isn’t blockchain bad for the environment?”. This was a big concern I had when I first began researching blockchain and NFT, and it is true that the two most popular blockchain platforms, Bitcoin and Ethereum, are absolutely terrible for the environment and create carbon footprints larger than some small countries. There were other reasons that I didn’t have an interest in Ethereum (currently the most well-known and popular NFT blockchain, home of Opensea), primarily the fact that there were so many hidden fees and a lot of celebrity manipulation – I was looking for a more open-source and decentralized platform for art with low barriers of entry, nevermind the environmental factors. Enter the Algorand blockchain (ALGO for short), a sustainable carbon negative blockchain with very promising technology created by a well known cryptography expert from MIT, Silvio Micali.

What is an NFT anyway? It’s a digital document on a ledger that can not be altered or deleted, a permanent record that uses math to verify its authenticity. It exists on a decentralized platform, which is why governments are so concerned with it – there is no server to raid and shut down, no real way to make it stop, as long as there is internet there will be blockchain and the NFTs that were created there. How does that work exactly? Blockchains are decentralized because they exist on nodes across the globe, every node has an entire copy of the blockchain in real time as well as an archive of everything that has ever happened on that blockchain – there are millions of nodes on the planet and in outer space for every blockchain technology (and there are thousands now). With digital artworks that have no physical component an NFT is proof of ownership and a record that stores details about the artwork. The digital file associated with the NFT (the artwork in our case) is stored on another decentralized network known as IPFS (Inter Planetary File Storage), which is also stored on multiple nodes (known as gateways in this case) across the globe and in space. If all of this sounds like a science fiction novel, it’s because in a lot of ways it is – however, blockchain is simply an evolution of the internet, and a common term you see for it is ‘Web3’. Eventually a lot of what we use the internet for will occur on some type of blockchain in the background, whether the user is consciously aware of it or not – the internet evolves like any technology or living organism after all.

In my next several posts I will discuss some specific projects done under the Art Block umbrella, and how I am beginning to merge the two worlds together moving forward.

Art Block has now been added to the galleries menu on this website.

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