“Artists Have To Embrace These New Channels Before Something Boring Comes Along And Yawns All Over It”

We spoke to Denny Hunter About How Physical Artists Should Make Their Move On The Blockchain

It’s summer in Scotland and Denny is preparing to leave his Edinburgh home to take one his Artobotic art vending machines to The Royal Scottish Academy in the heart of the Scottish Capital city during the largest arts festival in the world, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. His mission is to interface the physical with the digital.

Some really powerful channels have opened up for artists recently and even more will become available in the near future. It’s easy to look at 8-bit 10K projects like Bored Apes as an artist and think that blockchain isn’t my kind of art. The truth is that blockchain art is in it’s infancy and we have only scratched the surface of what it will be able to do - I think that immersive spatial environments like AR and VR will be the next big thing for art. The film (and book) Ready Player One gave us all a taste of how that could play out in the future with a single VR Metaverse called The Oasis where anything is possible, where participants wear haptic suits to simulate reality.

I think we’re a long way off from having a single unified Metaverse like Ready Player One. I think, firstly we will see a big surge in augmented reality (AR) – The platforms are already there like SnapAR (Snapchat) and OVR which is a matrix of acre size hexagons which is layered on top of our existing earth and already you can meet on these lands as an avatar, upload Ethereum NFTs, 3D assets, photogrammetry and it even has a plug-in for Sketchfab! All of these things are happening right now but it seems that artists aren’t really there yet – I spoke to an artist friend recently who was a real skeptic and she compared NFTs to the tulip craze in Amsterdam in the 1600s. She couldn’t see past the memes and gifs that were being minted and passed off as ‘art’ . So – we went out for a walk and I showed her how I had ‘teleported’ a whole stretch of Brick Lane in London to our local park via the use of AR and the OVR platform. She walked around it, climbed inside it and then I think it struck home how useful this particular facet of blockchain could be- I went on to explain that you could make an NFT sculpture that could be time locked for 100 years and could only be opened by certain people with a certain NFT! You could see the cogwheels in her mind starting to turn and think about what is possible – She said “Artists have to embrace these new channels before something boring comes along and yawns all over it!”

A lot of these technologies are coming to a nexus right about now- we have AR and VR, AI, Haptics etc and they are already here – The AR glasses are being worked on by a team of over 10000 people at Facebook! Snapchat have already released their ‘spectacles’ so I think my friend was right- Artists have to get on top of this technology right now- otherwise our visual field might be full of advertising or poor art. Platforms like Somnium Space and entities like MoCA (Museum Of Crypto Art) have already staked their claim and their is a thriving community of incredible digital artists like Ayshia Taskin and all the other artists that we will be vending from our machine today but I would really like to see more traditional artists entering the field.

If you are a painter for example- you could take a LiDAR scan of your work and sell it as a limited edition. LiDAR can pick up on the texture of the paint work, something that traditional flatbed scanning cannot do! Sculptors could do the same except they could position their sculptures in 3D space, animate them, have them follow a physical path that could feed into a conceptual idea- these are just ideas off the top of my head that utilise technology which is presently available but I can see much more being available in the near future.

I want to see artists from the analogue world utilising this technology before it’s dominated by the likes of Facebook who would want to utilise people’s creativity in a vapid way.

Interesting art stories from across the metaverse.