Beyond Hic et Nunc, Part 1: A Community Emerges

It is difficult, if not impossible, to sum up the story of Hic et Nunc, the wildly popular NFT platform on Tezos that recently closed its doors. Its success caught many by surprise and offered a place for crypto artists to find a sense of connection that seemed to be disappearing with the exponential growth of NFT Land in 2021. While Hic et Nunc’s rise ultimately seemed to overwhelm its founder, leading to its closing on November 11th, the artists, collectors, and developers who make up the community continue forward on a variety of paths, including a new version of the site and minting on other Tezos-based NFT platforms.


2020 Vs. 2021

2020 was not all peace and love in NFT Land, but it was relatively easy to find like-minded artists on Twitter and become part of a loose-knit network of artists, collectors, developers, and business people. Established artists educated new artists, and many found the world of crypto art to be more inviting than other social spaces online.

This state of affairs changed drastically in March 2021 with a gigantic wave of entrants, drops, and business announcements. Beeple sold Everydays: The First 5000 Days for $69 million, rock stars like Kings of Leon were dropping NFTs, popular figures such as Gary Vee were establishing their presence, and major corporations, including Taco Bell, were beginning to experiment. In 2020, we asked for mainstreaming. In 2021, we received a deluge.

In 2020, though artists showed interest, it was difficult to attract collectors to NFT platforms on new blockchains. But shockingly high gas fees on Ethereum, and a rapidly growing awareness of environmental issues associated with POW blockchains, and early uptake by NFT influencers opened the way for adoption of Hic et Nunc on the Tezos POS blockchain by a wide range of crypto artists in 2021.


Launch and Early Adoption

Hic et Nunc, the now-shuttered NFT platform, officially launched on Tezos March 1, after an interesting series of explorations involving a variety of use cases by founder Rafael Lima. An early enthusiast and prominent crypto artist, Mario Klingemann, offers an excellent example of the rich involvement of participants. His March 2021 tweets about Hic et Nunc include thoughts on working with and around the platform’s early peculiarities, posting art, promoting other artists, and participating in Vertical CryptoArt’s initial Hic et Nunc-oriented online social events.

Jason Bailey soon wrote a glowing piece relating Hic et Nunc to earlier periods of crypto art development. By the end of March, artists, collectors, and developers were drawn to the platform, posting art, developing tools of use to the community, and spreading the word on Twitter and Clubhouse. While many of these artists were active in 2020, others were new to NFT Land. This meant Hic et Nunc functioned as a first NFT experience for many participants, introducing them to a perspective on NFTs quite different from the cash grab mode which seemed to be taking over everywhere else.

One of the biggest promotional efforts for Hic et Nunc came from art giveaways in the OBJKT4OBJKT events in March and April, organized by Diverse NFT Artists. Artists freely gave away large editions of NFTs on Hic et Nunc, promoted and celebrated the releases on Twitter, and attracted many to their first Tezos experience. In fact, one could argue that Hic et Nunc was the tipping point for artist and collector involvement with NFT platforms on Tezos.


Another attraction of Hic et Nunc was the ability to experiment technically. As G4SP4RD put it:

“In a very short period of time @hicetnunc has become, in my opinion the best marketplace when it comes to generative art, mathematical art, and creative coding.”

For collectors, including the always crucial ‘artist/collector,’ Hic et Nunc offered a rich array of art from early adopters, old-timers, technical creators, newcomers, and anyone else willing to put up with its quirks. In addition to the OBJKT4OBJKT giveaways, much work was affordably priced, creating opportunities to collect from both emerging and well-established artists. Though higher price tiers did emerge, they created financial opportunities for artists without undermining Hic et Nunc’s reputation as a great starting spot for collectors.


Cracks in the Facade

Unfortunately, the flaws in Hic et Nunc’s special world were also beginning to show. As @mumu_the stan pointed out in April:

“I think those who know what Hic et Nunc is and don’t kid themselves into thinking it is more than what it currently is – an alpha site still in development prone to breaking etc., but with good potential – will have fun.”

As @solarize-webdev responded:

“Personally, I quite like the half-broken nature of it. Reminds me of the early days of the web, sorta anarchic.”

Matheus Siqueira’s deep dive into the state of Hic et Nunc in late June illustrated its strengths and weaknesses. While many were contributing to the project, including creating much-needed tools for users, the choke point for development was Rafael Lima himself. Acting as both creator, theorist, and boss dev, Lima brought a complex perspective to a project that would ultimately leave its creator behind.


Summer 2021

June was a notable month for Hic et Nunc as engaged users put it ahead of Rarible and Foundation by measurement of active wallets, making it much more than Tezos’ leading dapp. But a platform hack undermined the festivities.

In July, Clara Peh discussed her experience with Hic et Nunc for Hyperallergic. It is both a positive take on the community and expressive of concerns many felt after the platform hack that occurred in June.

Sequeira posted an AMA with Lima in early July with some theoretical notes as well.

Timonty looked back at the community-driven Hicathon that occurred in May and resulted in continuing collaboration that they also continued to cover through the summer and into September.


Into The Fall

A pattern of increasing success, growing adoption by new users, technical ups and downs, and ambivalence on the part of the creator continued to characterize life at Hic et Nunc ‘till its final days.

Part 2 of this essay will focus on Hic et Nunc’s endgame and the community’s surprising rebound, introducing additional players to our sprawling cast.




Beyond Hic et Nunc, Part 2: The Community Takes Charge

Featured Image: Screenshot from Hic et Nunc and friends x VerticalCrypto

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