Collecting &
Climate Activism
A series of four online discussions have been led during COP27 in Egypt (from Nov 6th to Nov 18th) by Arteztic and key artists and community players. Following up on the panel discussion “Creating and Collecting Art for the Planet” organised at Art Basel Paris+ on October 23rd (watch recording here), these discussions explored how creating and collecting eco-art can support positive futures.
Twitter Space, Nov. 14th 2022
In our Twitter Spaces discussion on crypto art and activism, we spoke with artists and curators from around the world about supporting climate projects through collecting and curating art on web3. The discussion moved towards how that work can actually have an impact on the viewer, and how different tools for collection, discovery, and exhibiting digital work can help.

On-chain art has a unique potential for supporting good causes; because everything on a blockchain is in one system, it's easy to direct funding from the artworks in ways that might be part of the artwork itself.

The discussion included artists Ada Ada Ada, Melody Owen, and Stijn Jansen. Also speaking were The Good Society's Sebastian Heimann, ClubNFT COO Danielle King, and Niio's Senior Curator Pau Welder. It was hosted by Diane Drubay.
What projects do you think are interesting?
For artist Melody Owens, the main platforms and communities for collecting art are on Tezos: Objkt, fx(hash), and more. But the community that's grown up around Teia is the successor to hic et nunc since it's shutting down in 2021. Her work is centered around the climate so the environmental concerns in the Tezos ecosystem resonate with her personally, but one of the main attractions of the community is the exploration of new forms for creating and showing art: interactive works, virtual worlds, magazines, etc.

Artists in the Tezos space are often collectors themselves, and for Danielle King just browsing their wallets through a chain explorer is a way to find interesting new work. Even without a curation tool like .JPG or tender.art's "grail grids", a web3 wallet has some use as a collection reflecting the owner's taste.

But that experience could be much better with a specialized tool. It's why ClubNFT have launched their Pathfinder tool to surface "hidden gems" from artists being collected by your peers. Collectors using Pathfinder can filter results according to factors like price range or edition sizes.

Artist ADA ADA ADA suggested that it would be good to filter for NFT sales that have a a sales percentage going to charitable funds. While the NFT's secondary sales mechanism is good for artists, it can also be used to fund causes relevant to the work. It's an effective way for creators to contribute to those causes in a financially sustainable way, and collectors can donate with cryptocurrency they're spending anyway. In some cases, like Julian Oliver's HARVEST, the donation can even be part of the artwork.

Sebastian Heimann and The Good Society are exploring new models for art to support good causes. Their recent Giants of The Metaverse drop sold generative artworks of elephants in support of the Wildlife Conservation Foundation of Tanzania and others. Additionally, the NFTs act as a kind of "customer list" on the public ledger that any software could plug into.
Together: Protect the Earth | Protect the Elephants by Marjan Moghaddam on TheGoodSociety (Source)
This gives nonprofits new ways to interact with their donors and encourage long-term relationships, beyond just sending emails that people rarely open. In this case the NFTs came along with benefits like sitting in on the impact meetings where nonprofit staff would review how the funds raised were actually deployed. It's easy to spin up a token-gated Discord to keep in touch with supporters at different levels, but if they want to move to another platform in future they can just plug it into that same on-chain list.

That's one way on-chain art can have an impact on climate nonprofits. But a more automatic way is through recurring donations from secondary NFT sales. When Diane Drubay and TZ Connect wanted to fund a hackathon for hic et nunc, they were able to do so by asking people to donate NFTs to a wallet that would collect a share of the sales. More than a year later, that wallet is still generating revenue. With programmable currency, there's still so much room to explore new models for sustainable funding.
How are you highlighting and sharing collections?
Chain analytics and tools like Pathfinder can help you discover new work, but how are artists and collectors actually displaying the work they've got?

Being able to carry these works around with you to represent your tastes, interests, and identity is one of the more interesting things about web3 wallets. But until platforms like Instagram roll out NFT profiles to all users, it's a limited use-case. Almost nobody wants to use spreadsheet-style chain analytics to view NFT art collections.
So in the web3 art space, specialist tools are coming online to let people display NFT collections in a way that flatters the work.

For physical displays - any TV, tablet, or phone - the streaming platform Niio wants to bring on-chain digital art to a large audience. Niio builds a set of tools for artists and collectors to upload work, create "playlists" of that art, and share it with other users with Niio connected to a screen. And subscribers can display work curated by the Niio team themselves so they can enjoy the work without the knowledge required to search through marketplaces and chain analytics.

In the digital context, Danielle King highlights tender.art, which builds off of fx(hash). Tender's "grail grids" give users a way to assemble works in different sizes of "tile" in whichever arrangements they choose. Viewers can then zoom in and out on the different works and see on- and off-chain information about them. This format plays well on a computer or tablet screen, but it also gives "curators" some room to create some contextual relationships between works, avoiding a rigid square format that wouldn't serve the works.
But two-dimensional formats aren't a substitute for the kinds of spatial experiences viewers will have in a gallery. It's why Melody Owens finds herself "building" galleries in virtual spaces like Protoworld. Artists have been running virtual shows in New Art City since 2020, each tying the works together in a creative experience worth visiting on its own merits.
For artists trying to raise awareness about a specific cause, the virtual spaces can allow for a more affecting experience for the visitor. Visitors can see work from around the world "in-person" without having to travel, and artists can exhibit to an international audience without having to fly crates of work around the world.

There doesn't need to be an either-or distinction between digital and physical exhibitions. One of the things Pau Waelder and Niio are trying to do is create a kind of "decentralized exhibition" where the work can be enjoyed in many physical spaces at once - whether a public square or a living room - each with their own slightly different experience.
But because those works are NFTs, they can just as easily be "hung" in a metaverse gallery at the same time. It's so often the sense of space and being with other people that creates the emotional impact of a work, so a mixed approach can bring it to as wide an audience as possible. Artist Giuseppe Moscatello told the group about the From Desert to Mars exhibition he worked on and noted that the physical exhibition, including a gallery filled with sand, had a much bigger impact in the local community. So perhaps a hybrid approach would look like a physical exhibition with a "digital twin" people can attend if they're not able to travel.

Ultimately a blockchain is only as valuable as the communities and tools built on top of it. An open and decentralized system allows us to experiment with the same work in many different contexts: a physical exhibition, a virtual world, a collector's private wallet, or a wallet making revenue for nonprofits in perpetuity.

Companies and communities around the Tezos ecosystem are figuring out new ways for artists and collectors to support the causes they care about in a way that's more engaging than with Web 2.0 technologies, and more effective and sustainable in the long-term.

Create art to act for the Planet.