The United States Space Force recently announced their first NFT release. Launching a satellite in honor of Neil Armstrong, the Space force decided to commemorate and immortalize this project through accompanying the launch with a collection of one-of-a-kind, blockchain-based assets, fit with augmented reality add-ons.
The collection launch took place on June 14th through Star Atlas (a blockchain-based metaverse offering virtual space exploration with next-generation multiplayer gaming technology), before being released on Ethernity’s platform on the 17th—the GPS III SV05 ARMSTRONG satellite’s launch date. This satellite launch will be the fifth of its GPS III fleet and will aid in advancing the GPS constellation’s navigation services for both military and civilian users.
The NFT collectibles, affiliated with this launch, can be bought on Star Atlas, as well as the VueXR app, until July 20th. Space Force partnered WorldwideXR and VueXR, to release this set of NFTs, with augmented reality add-ons. The collection consists of augmented reality tokens depicting satellites, mission badges, and coins—as depicted below.
Launching campaigns both on the metaverse and earth’s orbit, this project supports the U.S. military and its veterans, though it should be noted that it is not officially connected to, or endorsed by, the U.S. Department of Defense.
While countries like Panama have adopted Bitcoin as a reserve currency in place of gold, countries like Turkey have banned the use of cryptocurrencies altogether. Seeing the US Space Force getting involved in the blockchain and metaverse arena might represent a turning point in US attitudes, leveraging the permanence of blockchain and honoring the role of artists in extended reality technology. NFTs are starting to become a household name, and this project will only further advance the NFT name in popular culture.
Following its creation as an independent branch of the U.S. armed forces in 2019, the Space Force was accused of being a vanity project of President Trump’s, amidst its centrality to the administration’s agenda at a time when domestic and international concerns were arguably far more of a concern. The Biden administration has, however, continued to signal full support for the world’s only independent Space Force. The Space Force is, in fact, the only military service set to grow under Biden’s 2021-2022 budget plans.
Biden’s administration has also signaled a future for blockchain-related activities, through mention in the new “American Families Plan.” Biden contends that cryptocurrency represents a “relatively small portion of business income today” but that “cryptocurrency transactions are likely to rise in importance in the next decade…” Accordingly, government response to blockchain activity remains preliminary, but this symbolic collaboration certainly marks a historically significant moment for the NFT space.
As articulated by Michael Wagner, co-founder, and CEO of Star Atlas, “this partnership unlocks the potential of blockchain technology. It immerses our community in the growing adoption of real-time graphics, multiplayer video-game, and decentralized financial technologies on the Solana blockchain” through mainstream channels.
With the launch of this project, the US Space Force hopes to inspire more people to explore space and, coincidentally, the metaverse too.
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Members of Carbonbase(a climate fintech company based in Hong Kong) founded Project Ark, an organization dedicated to taking effective action against climate change by leveraging data science, blockchain technology, and sustainability.
In partnership with Carbonbase and World Wildlife Fund Panda Labs,Project Ark is an innovative new conservation platform, and an online marketplace, which sells rare NFT collectibles, in exchange for funds that support and protect both animals and the environment.
Project Ark: A Quick Overview
“AtProject Ark, we aim to realize this potential impact by bringing together passionate artists, with purpose-driven collectors, and deserving projects to create a win-win-win situation,” says Jon O’Sullivan, head of Business Development for Carbonbasespearheading Project Ark.
The story of a WWF member holding one of the last rhinos in her palm just before it died in 2020 inspired the team to get involved with protecting the most vulnerable species wherever needed on the planet. As a result, Project Ark was created; a carbon-neutral NFT platform worked on by World Wildlife Fund Panda Labs, that directly funded conservation and animal protection organizations.
Want to help take on the climate crisis? I encourage you to tune in to the Greenlight Climate Festival tomorrow. It's two days of conversations about the opportunities we all have to be a part of solutions. https://t.co/sEcjeVNzxppic.twitter.com/WWOs0LFlaS
As part of Project Ark’s mission, the organization seeks to build a market where any artist can participate in whatever conservation project inspires them, in which a portion of the proceeds will go to the partner organizations. “We believe that the NFT space has tremendous potential to raise much needed resources, but also provide emotionally evocative and experiential art that can change the way people view our natural world,” explains Jon O’Sullivan.
Additionally, O’Sullivan’s team intends to release its large scale natural endowment funds and create their own Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) token, He adds: “this DAO will create a democratic governance amongst communities, in our mission to protect natural resources that are part of the common good but exploited by private interests.”
Staying conscious of sustainability and Carbon emissions, the team decided to go ahead and mint on thePolygon (formerly Matic) Network, “which is PoS (Proof of Stake) based and therefore involves negligible gas fees and Carbon emissions” O’Sullivan argues. “We also partnered withChainlink (one of the more widely used Oracle Networks) so we can include Verifiable Randomness (VRF), and Dynamic NFTs going forward with the help of their oracles.”
Genesis Campaigns/Drops: An Overview
The current Genesis Drop offers 50% of all proceeds to World Wildlife Fund Romania, which supports their efforts to return endangered European Bison to the wild and to engage local communities in the conservation effort. Furthermore, Project Ark has a number of exciting conservation initiatives in the pipeline with which they will partner with creatives across a range of artistic mediums.
The campaign was launched with the release of four NFT Egg tiers (Bronze,Silver,Gold, andPlatinum). Romanian instruments are used to create an original soundtrack for each of the Eggs, which represents an aspect of Romanian folklore and culture. Additionally, Project Ark has minted and offered 20 Genesis artworks up for grabs, which can be won by holders of Egg NFTs or purchased individually.
“Our mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth…At every level, we collaborate with people around the world to develop and deliver innovative solutions that protect communities, wildlife, and the places in which they live.” _ World Wildlife Fund
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been working in its mission to help people and nature thrive for over 60 years working with nearly 100 countries.
As the world’s leading conservation organizationWWF,engages businesses, local communities, academia, and conservation through Panda Laboratories. By attracting partners from various fields and gradually funding prototypes of identified solutions, Panda Labs will become the decentralized accelerator of WWF Romania, devoted to preserving nature and fostering local development.
Since 2006, WWF Romania has been dedicated to conserving wildlife in Romania’s Carpathian forests and along the Danube. Home to threatened species like amur leopards, brown bears, the sturgeons and European bison. Additionally, a program for young people to learn about the environment is being incorporated into this project.
WWF Romaniastartedre-wildingthe bison in 2014, and is now transforming local communities into conservationists through its extensive conservation program. As a result, bison populations running free in the wild have increased more than 200-fold, providing these communities with new and exciting economic opportunities.
Main featured image credit: “Back From The Brink” – NFT by @JonnyOhCanada
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Strawberry.wtf is a series of collectible NFTs that were freshly mutated by the strawberry supermoon, which wasn’t fully visible in North America until last Thursday evening when the sunset and the large golden moon ascended into view. That’s when 10,000 mutant generative strawberries overwhelmed an unsuspecting rural town, which in reality could happen almost anywhere because strawberries are the most widely grown fruit in home gardens.
Similar in scope and generative process to other well-crafted NFT collections like CryptoPunks and the Bored Ape Yacht Club, there’s an endearing narrative backstory to inform, entertain, and engage a community of collectors. Yet unlike those sizable projects produced by corporate teams, Strawberry.wtf was masterfully launched by two talented and ambitious independent visionaries with the enduring support of an NFT crypto art hivemind. What makes Strawberry’s NFTs remarkable is their unique utility: an 8-bit nod of nostalgia in the form of a platform game that was literally built to the limitations of a 1989 Gameboy; a throwback to his notoriety as a world-class retro gamer.
“It’s devilishly fun, and evil, and all of the spirit of vintage gaming,” Strawberry said. Loosely based on his own life, each level of the game is a bit more challenging than the last. “It starts out hard, and it’s just hard the whole time,” Strawberry admits. There isn’t a physical cartridge yet, but NFT HODLers will have access to this 6-level game by connecting their wallet in a browser that confirms each verifiably unique ERC-721 token. Strawberry hasn’t beaten his own game, yet he says it is definitely beatable. In fact, you can go from the front to the back, and then play your way back through all 6 levels to the front if you want, because different things may or may not happen each time you play. “You’re not rewarded for playing, but it feels fun, and it feels good when you beat it,” Strawberry said.
Strawberry.wtf NFTs are meant to be tradeable, giftable, and fun to make derivatives from—so expect to see Strawberry jam sessions. If you collect at least 20 NFTs and hold them until at least July 9th (1 week after the reveal) you’ll be rewarded with a golden strawberry AirDrop, if you’re also among the top 100 collectors on the leaderboard. “That’s when you automatically become a Big Farmer,” says CryptoSpaces1. “But if you sell one on the secondary market and drop below 20 NFTs in your wallet, you lose your status,” he cautions. A leaderboard will keep collectors competitive, and an active Strawberry Discord includes “Strawberry Preserve,” a space to talk and trade vintage video games. There’s already a limited collection of 6th generation strawberry floppy disk collectibles from taylor.wtf that grants 100 collectors access to an external hard drive of digital assets on discord.art. “I’m gonna have a ton of strawberries on the hard drive available for all the disk collectors to make derivatives of,” taylor.wtf said.
The first 100 Strawberry.wtf NFTs are reserved; 0-4 are for auction; 5-99 are for DeFi friends and giveaways; 100-9,999 will be made available to the public on OpenSea. Up to twenty NFTs can be minted at a time with a flat cost of 0.025 ETH each; the cost of a Gameboy in 1989. Strawberry.wtf allows its community to make iterations to the game until the Gameboy cartridge is full. By sharing its pipeline sprites, assets, and maps, the community can make changes by editing and even adding new characters for everyone with a Strawberry token to experience.
“I met Strawberry the other night at the NFT event in Venice, and I was so impressed,” says FinkeLand, who discovered Strawberry.wtf NFTs on CryptoVoxels’ homepage. “He showed me the game he developed and it was way over my head,” she laughs. “But he took the time to explain everything.”
MetaBit Broker CryptoVoxels
The derivative market is sure to be teeming with wildly creative Strawberry patches. Derivatives galvanize the NFT artist community around fellowship, FOMO, flipping, and artist collaborations to create more NFTs. cryptowizard77 wants to 3D-print a strawberry pie. fiyahmarshall wants to add his original music. NFT_ish wants a feminine-looking derivative with a cigarette. Almost anything these collectibles inspire is possible because they’re CC licensed. “With projects like this, when you’re allowed to take the entity that you own, and create new works based on derivative works, and then actually sell them for commercial use, that’s kind of a big deal,” AaronHaber said.
Designing a 10,000-piece art collection of fruitful abominations is no small feat. Each verifiably different NFT has been generated at random, except for the first 100 NFTs, which are reserved for auction, DeFi friends, and giveaways. CryptoSpaces1 assures us that no more strawberries were cherry-picked; they all go through the same pipeline that will randomize each visual element.
The process began with Strawberry, who created 20 different characters. Each of the characters has 8 different pixel parts: visual elements that were handed off to CryptoSpaces1, who created the script to mix and match the visual elements based on different levels of predetermined rarity. The script auto generates Strawberry.wtf NFTs; mixing and matching 8-pixel parts like a delicious strawberry smash cocktail of backgrounds, bodies, berries, eyes, noses, mouths, stems (hair), and an extra category. The first 100 tokens also have a special quality to them that’s specific to each DeFi friend; a trait each grateful recipient may consider rare and valuable in this regard.
“Earlier this week, we’ve been making sure that everything aligns; the assets align, and we actually got some really fun, good, happy accidents,” says CryptoSpaces1. Each smart contract will have a seed hash and a base to the provenance hash so the system is transparent. Strawberry has no interest in seeing his NFTs until they’re actually created. He thinks everyone should just enjoy the surprise.
“I definitely got some feedback from foodmasku,” Strawberry said. “I put some strawberries in their discord and they offered some suggestions. And I was able to create a better distinction between the more feminine and masculine traits.” While some of them will be burly masculine, there’s no real gender to them, and there are some nice feminine qualities,” he mentioned. “I was trying to aim in a direction where they’re gender fluid in a lot of ways. It doesn’t have to be, you can be whatever strawberry,” he added. “You made a big point to make it inclusive,” CryptoSpaces1 recalls.
You can’t be mad at a strawberry—hence his moniker—as both a world-class retrogamer and now NFT crypto venture capitalist. Strawberry has been a well-known figure in gaming circles and especially World of Warcraft for more than a decade, and in recent years he’s been extremely competitive. Aggressive gaming is like a day job, and “Strawberry” has always been his avatar handle. When he downloaded Clubhouse and met people like snack_man and steviewilliams_, he was all-in with @rarepizzas and the promise of a collaborative NFT artist community. That’s when the gaming Discord groups he’d been part of for years collided with the world of NFTs like a celestial event; his own Strawberry moon was like a cosmic shift. “I will keep the name Strawberry forever. I love the name,” Strawberry says, despite the rumour that if all 10,000 NFTs sell out, he’ll change his legal name to “Straw Berry.”
While Strawberry.wtf NFTs started minting last week, the visual reveal for each unique NFT in the collection, as well as the platform game, happens on July 2nd.
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As the world continues to familiarize itself with decentralized currencies and the concept of NFT’s, we are simultaneously presented with a wide range of possible applications associated with them. Remember, when people were denouncing the credibility and functionality of NFT’s? Remember that last piece I wrote on NBA Topshot? Well, very soon you’ll be able to take that very same Zion Williamson NFT I mentioned prior and use it as a security for collateral. As if earning “interest on deposits and borrowing assets” wasn’t akin enough to an FDIC-insured bank, AAVE has taken further steps. AAVE’s latest development in the world of DeFi is the opportunity for its users to use their NFT’s as collateral, as stated by their CEO Stani Kulechov.
We don’t have very much information as this is all very new, however, we should discuss what this means for the crypto community at large. Using valuable assets has always been a means of establishing net worth. Acquiring a home or car, applying for a loan, or in place of bail or bond in a courtroom. What if you had the option to add digital assets to the equation? The mere ability to do so would absolutely be of major financial assistance to artists in any foregone situations. Nonetheless, this goes much deeper. I’ve included images and quotes from various community members with opinions to illustrate what the average persons’ perception of NFT’s might be. (adam22)
A financial institution with as much notoriety in the crypto world as AAVE backing NFT’s so much that they are willing to allow users to put them up as collateral against something like a house is a major statement in favour of their potential value. At this point in time, a majority of people still do not understand cryptocurrency, even less appreciate NFT’s, and less than that would buy them. AAVE’s next move could be the catalyst for people to start informing themselves. Think about how simple it would be for a rich individual to acquire an NFT to store his asset’s, simultaneously making the artist’s career. Similarly, an individual with a more average bank account could easily acquire an NFT and allow it to balloon into something more monetarily valuable, then later use it as collateral.
Think about how difficult it was to pitch to your parents that you wanted to be an artist. Consider the effort involved with fighting to get people to take your art more seriously. In the traditional art world, we’ve seen illustrious works of fine art used as backing for collateral, this isn’t even uncommon. With AAVE backing you, your parents who grew up before the internet was conceived are given good reason to have faith in your craft. When AAVE implements this feature, there will surely be more crypto institutions of similar sizes who follow suit. This just means more credibility to both the concept and the artist. In other words, AAVE’s soon to come collateral system doesn’t just back your NFT or the home you’re looking to buy. Before all of that, it backs you as an artist. We’ve had enough polarity in this genre of digital art, and this may very well be the solution. Funny enough, both collectibles and fine art can be accepted as collateral, and an NFT can arguably be classified as both, but certainly can be at least one. it’s honestly strange that this hasn’t happened already.
I love DeFi and a good NFT as much as you the reader likely do too, but to be taken seriously we must consider the opposing perspective, not just bash them. What happens when you put your piece up for a collateralized loan and it’s value depreciates? Here’s an easy example to follow: you’re a young collector who purchases a collectible pack from NBA Topshot. You score a one of a kind piece featuring Lebron James dunking on Steph Curry. You then take said NFT, and put it up for a loan for 20ETH. The following month, Lebron dunks on Curry again, and somebody else purchases that minted moment. Does your NFT’s value effectively get cut in half and leave you stuck to pay off an enormous debt you can’t possibly pay? It will be interesting to see exactly how something backed by DeFi will hold up in the long term against something with a somewhat fixed or a more fungible value.
In conclusion, while there is only room to speculate on AAVE’s NFT collateral system, I can say with the utmost confidence that the benefits heavily outweigh the negatives. As the universe surrounding NFT’s grows more roots, it will be easier to say how things will branch out. That being said, as the days grow closer to bringing this concept to life, I postulate that speculation will grow with it, especially as the story accumulates more media attention. The success of this feature seems to be incredibly pertinent to inciting the range of potential positives I mentioned earlier in this article. I have no doubt that AAVE will get this right from the beginning as a lot is dependant on them. What happens from here remains to be seen, however I’m looking forward to using my own artwork to create a stable future as well.
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Pixel Art has taken the NFT world by storm. With crypto punks, rare pizzas, and other avatars popping up as a semblance of identity for many. NFT artists like Maxwell Step and MirruTatep are finding ways to turn them into surprisingly detailed artistic expressions. And then there’s always the sweet nostalgia they represent. I know whenever I see pixel art, I immediately am brought back to a time where my Nintendo 64 was my metaverse. The games were simpler, and yes, pixelated. No matter what reminiscent thoughts come to mind for you, it’s safe to say that pixels are back with a vengeance. Some even feel that pixel art marks the beginning of NFTs- since so many learned about the blockchain via Cryptopunks.
So, how can we enjoy our NFTs to the fullest extent? Well, a good start is with displays allowing us to flaunt them IRL as much as possible. The Divoom company gives us the perfect opportunity to peacock our digital artworks with their unique and novel audio/visual devices. The coolest attribute of these products is the colourful pixel art displays shown on the most adorable gadgets. Combining nostalgic charm with classic gamification – the toymakers have given us a super cute way to show off our non-fungible tokens in style. With backpacks, art frames, boom boxes, and a collaboration with Koi Footwear, Divoom could have some big things coming up on the horizon. They even have cool art drawing boards to inspire budding artists.
Photos courtesy of divoominternational.com
Their newest release is the adorableDivoom-Ditoo. The Ditoo is modeled to resemble a retro computer and the Tivoo and Tivoo-Max both possess a quaint antique TV likeness. To use the Divoom devices to their fullest potential, download the app and unlock a variety of customizable features. With the app, you can choose from a vast catalogue of different art pieces and gifs. You can pixelate your own pictures to display on your devices and have access to a whole pixel art community.
Bluetooth and Alexa capabilities allow you to play music, podcasts, and anything else you like, including app-accessed radio stations and audiobooks. Another win is the remarkable battery life, and products can even be synced with your phone’s notification center. When you get a notification the device lights up with a pixelated picture of whatever app the message is on, turning every message into an adorable work of art. With these gadgets, our NFTs will become more functional than ever before! Some even have clap or snap to wake options you can activate for hands-free use.
Furthermore, you can use sound sensitivity to create visuals on the device that match the music you play with the DJ feature! Choose from a DJ mixer or several different instruments to create your own custom sounds and light shows. I hope our NFT musicians are taking notes! Within the app, there are settings for white noise amongst other sleep aids, and you can set alarms with gentle wake settings for a more comfortable morning. You can also add reminders in the daily planner feature, and even see a pixelated weather forecast.
Now let’s talk about the game options, with games like Tetris and Magic 8 Ball already installed, you have to wonder what will evolve as NFT and gaming enthusiasts take hold of the tech. A whole line of retro gaming fashion and fun would be a welcome addition to this fast-paced technological age. These tiny pixel portals share a small piece of history and commemorate the novel roots of digital art while ushering in a new era where fashion, tech, and entertainment converge.
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The Super Yeti community experienced the long-awaited reveal of their treasured Yetis on June 14th. The remarkable efforts by the team behind the project were well-received by many members of the crypto community at large as well as by the secondary NFT market where sales of Yetis have topped 5 ETH. With an equitable launch of 0.1 ETH for every Yeti, a portion of the proceeds received will go towards cultivating a game and a community while also working to fight human trafficking in Nepal and India.
The Super Yeti founders go by the names Supercape and Sparq, choosing to retain anonymity. Despite this fact, they have nonetheless made themselves fully present on their Discord server and through discussions on Clubhouse and Twitter, in addition to a podcast. Tirelessly answering questions while displaying their character and ambitions. Supercape has been part of three Silicon Valley startups and lends a jovial, optimistic attitude to the project that is balanced by Sparq’s diligent, data-driven approach. Sparq is an astute and experienced blockchain developer, having worked with solidity to secure multiple De-Fi projects since 2015.
Superscape’s vision was to build a “Yetiverse;” a blockchain game and a community of Yetis that would help decide what the fate of that game would look like. The project was essentially crowd-funded with NFTs to deliver a game for those who provided funding or bought a Yeti later. Critically, a social cause was attached to the project, establishing that 5% of all proceeds would go to fighting human trafficking in Nepal and India.
Allocation & Pre-Sale
The Super Yeti company held 240 Yetis to fund future game development and community initiatives, awarded 60 to team members individually, and another 500 Yetis were given to community members as part of a giveaway.The Super Yeti project then started its pre-sale on June 8th at 3 PM EST, in which the remaining 9,200 Yetis went up for sale at 0.1 ETH each. Initially, 24 different traits were defined for each Yeti’s characteristics including their eyes, hands, colour, and background that could form up to 20,000 different combinations of Yetis. Nobody who participated in the presale knew what properties their Yeti would end up having, how rare they would be, or what they would end up looking like, but the community was excited by the vision and the cause, as well as their firm belief in the team’s ability to achieve it.
The pre-sale quickly gained traction, and all 10,000 Yetis were sold out only a few days later on June 11th. Due to popular demand, the Super Yeti team brought on additional team members that focused on community management, graphic design, and development. The result of these additional resources was the exponential increase in the number of possible Yetis, and thereby further enhanced the uniqueness of each Yeti. Instead of 24 traits there were now 88, reportedly capable of forming over a million combinations, up from 20,000.
The community was delighted to receive this news on the Super Yeti Discord Server. Furthermore, ahead of the reveal, the Super Yeti team announced their first significant donation of 10 ETH toNew Light Kolkata, a public charitable trust based in India with a broad array of social justice programs including educating and caring for the children of sex workers and “untouchables”- a social caste in India placed on the bottom of the social ladder that limits many opportunities.
The Super Yetis were revealed on June 15th at 3PM, exactly one week after the pre-sale began. People began to notice their NFTs changing from the question marks overlaying the Yetis to the Yetis they were awarded. Many flocked to Twitter and Clubhouse to show off the designs of their new Yetis, and within a few days some of the rarest ones were selling for 5 ETH. 40 minutes after the reveal, Openseafinally gave the project the verified badge on their site. The reveal had been successful.
Since then, the Discord community has grown both by member count to over 3700 members, and also by breadth of discussion. There now exist many additional channels covering many topics even beyond Yetis.
The Future/The Impact
The Super Yeti community that has assembled over the past two weeks has been united by their belief in the blockchain game that they could build, as well as by the social cause that is inseparable from the project. The Yetis of legend are often placed around the Himalaya Mountains, the same mountain range that separates Nepal from India. It is across these two countries that the Super Yeti project focuses its donations to fight human trafficking.
This is proof of many concepts. First, that a project can be crowdfunded by a community while simultaneously rewarding those that participate. NFTs provide the ideal use case for such a model. Furthermore, it verifies that a social cause attached to an exciting project can truly supercharge the potential for both. As we move to a more socially responsible future, we look to pioneers like the Super Yeti project to exemplify taking advantage of these new technologies to improve the lives of others around the world.
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Pinkwashing: A term used to describe the action of using gay-related issues in positive ways in order to distract attention from negative actions by an organization, country, or government. [ Sarah Schulman, The New York Times, November 23, 2011
SuperRare, one of the Largest invite-only NFT marketplaces is quite respected in the metaverse. Unsurprisingly, earlier this Pride Month, like almost all other companies in the space, SuperRare announced their virtual pride programing. What came as a surprise to myself, and fellow LGBTQ+ folks in the community was that after what most assumed to be their “initial” post, their “pride programming” simply stopped…
Their Instagram post on June 14th, halfway through pride month, mentioned that they would “be donating 100% of [their] commissions earned between June 14-16 to @outintech 🌈.”
Now before getting too deep into analyzing this, I want to mention that I have nothing but respect for Out in Tech and similar international organizations that champion LGBTQ+ working professionals. However, given that this event was and is the only LGBTQ+ fundraising effort made by SuperRare this month, it feels like a quota made to be filled.
First of all, SuperRare processes millions of dollars in trades annually. Even though they only take a 3% fee on transactions, they recently raised over 9million USD in their series A round alone. While it is “nice” of them to offer a portion of their profits to a queer-centric organization during pride month, it doesn’t feel like enough. Especially considering that it was only for two days out of the month and that this was one of their only pride activations. And the only one with a direct monetary donation or incentive.
This is extra unfortunate for me, as I previously quite liked SuperRare as a platform despite the exclusive nature of their marketplace. However, as a decentralized organization in the DeFi space, I believe that companies have an obligation to do better. We need to move past the “old boys club” of the traditional art market and put in the work to truly champion diverse artists from around the world. Any platform that hasn’t gone out of its way this month to highlight and champion LGBTQ+ and BIPOC voices, in lieu of Pride Month and Juneteenth, is simply out of touch. And I don’t believe that they have a place in this ecosystem.
I should mention that this wasn’t the only thing that SuperRare did. The same day they put out a tweet with a blog post highlighting a few LGBTQ+ artists on their platform and also released a poster celebrating 50 years of pride. However, it all stopped there – and it’s simply not enough! These efforts, even in aggregation, are super lacklustre — and seem to be a sheepish attempt to compensate for primarily promoting white cis male artists on their platform. All one needs to do is go to their Instagram profile to see their one single pride-related post followed by going back to regular programming. They even went so far as to “balance out” their rainbow post with a rainbow piece of art (with no mention of pride month of course).
Now am I trying to vilify SuperRare? Not at all. I would just like to issue this as a public statement to SuperRare and all other major players in this space to DO BETTER! We are a decentralized community. We exist internationally and represent a rainbow of races, creeds, gender expressions, sexualities, belief systems, and so much more. This shouldn’t be perceived by big companies as a burden, but an opportunity! And we have already seen it starting. Companies like Decentraland have gone out of their way to create Pride parades, and entire pride month calendars in partial replacement of physical events still closed due to covid restrictions.
These kinds of large organizations going out of their way to champion marginalized communities is exactly what we need in order to make the decentralized art world a better place to be a part of. I really hope that SuperRare and other organizations take this article to heart and reflect on how they can be better allies to the members of their workforces and communities at large.
I would love to follow this article up with a conversation with any representative from SuperRare that might be so brave as to hop on a recorded zoom interview with me-
If interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Pride! 🏳️🌈
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Coming to Superchief Gallery NFT
New York City (June 24-July 3)
SuperChief NFT Gallery, the world’s first physical exhibition space dedicated solely to NFT artwork, is collaborating with the EVERY WOMAN BIENNIAL, the wildly popular and world’s largest all woman and non-binary art biennial of its kind, to exhibit the NFTs of hundreds of female artists through a digital platform, and on screens within a physical presence at the Superchief Gallery NFT in New York, exhibiting from June 24 – July 3, 2021.
Originally known as ‘The Whitney Houston Biennial’, founded by C. Finley to empower and celebrate women, femme, and nonbinary artists with biennial shows themed on Whitney Houston song titles, The EVERY WOMAN BIENNIAL is known to be a celebration of the ‘Divine Feminine’ and as one of the leading shows in the art world, it often sets new trends while creating equity in the arts. The EVERY WOMAN BIENNIAL is always dazzling, inclusive, and trendsetting, and this year, founder and curator C. Finley shows us all just how forward-thinking and progressive the Every Woman Biennial is with its stunning debut into the NFT space to tackle the male-dominated “tech bro” scene with a legion of women artists each exploring the curatorial theme ‘My Love is Your Love.’
“The goal is to develop a heightened consciousness in the art world favoring encouragement, connection, inspiration and love. The Every Woman Biennial is our rallying cry which aims to bring together many creative voices to sing a collective song that celebrates the contribution of female artists and marks a moment in our communal trajectory.” -founder/curator C. Finley
The EVERY WOMAN BIENNIAL 2021 brings female and non-binary artists together from across the globe in the spirit of community and collaboration, to investigate themes of inspiration, connection, and love while celebrating the abundance and beauty of Mother Nature and the Divine Feminine within us all. My Love Is Your Love is a startling and refreshing shift in NFT curatorial themes of the past (which, admittedly is quite a short history), and is providing much-needed feminine energy in a space where women and nonbinary artists are still largely underrepresented.
The Every Woman Biennial is constantly evolving to provide inclusive opportunities to support women and non-binary artists, and the aim or this particular show is to give hundreds of artists who are interested in exploring the new technology and mint NFTs, the opportunity to reach new audiences and sell their art on the Superchief platform – which is especially important now, in the wake of 2020 – an unprecedented year of isolation, and in this ongoing socially-distanced time, it is refreshing to see the traditional art world embrace NFTs to reimagine what the art world can be and who can be included and celebrated.
As C. Finley states: ‘Not knowing if we’d be able to get together during the pandemic, we embraced the new NFT platform for our 4th edition in NYC. 600+ emerging female and non-binary artists are coming together across the biennials to exhibit, perform and lift each other up.’
Every Woman Biennial, in collaboration with Superchief Gallery NFT will hold a workshop to walk selected artists through minting their first NFTs. This is a carbon-negative exhibition, in partnership withPachama.
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In partnership with the Botswana Red Cross Society and acclaimed artist Remo Camerota, Leyline has just dropped their first-ever charity NFT auction. Their mission: To validate how NFT auctions, gaming, art, and social impact development organizations can work together, advancing a common goal of eliminating poverty and rewarding acts of altruism around the world.
In addition to being an Open Knowledge, Open Source project, Leyline is a California Nonprofit Organization – A Transformative Digital Economy Nonprofit. By rewarding those who do good, Leyline strives to eradicate poverty. For individuals who perform small acts of altruism every day, the mission is to create a perpetual passive income stream. By using Leyline, users can connect with wellness activities, blood donations, and community service opportunities. In order to validate these actions, Leyline partners with trusted nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and NGOs which verify the various good actions people may undertake. Leyline points are given as rewards for these good deeds which can be redeemed for goods of cash value, cryptocurrencies, and Non-Fungible Tokens.
“Our revenue above operating costs will be reallocated back to a prize pool to help get funds into the hands of people who truly need it. We’re not here to become billionaires; we’re here to solve the biggest problems facing humanity” explains Jeremy Dela Rosa, founder and CEO of Leyline.
We partnered with @BotswanaRed and artist @RemoCamero for our first charity NFT sale to demonstrate that NFTs, art, and social impact organizations can help eradicate poverty and reward acts of altruism.
Allied to no government and without political, religious or cultural affiliations, the nonprofitRed Cross and Red Crescent associations, were founded to respond to the well-being of war-wounded by providing assistance without discrimination on the battlefield and to prevent and alleviate suffering. Botswana Red Cross Society is one branch of these organizations with the same directive.
Botswana Red Cross Society essentially has two purposes: To protect life and health as well as to ensure that human rights are respected. Throughout the world, its ideals and principles are aimed at promoting friendship, cooperation, and lasting peace.
“Our mission is to alleviate human suffering by providing humanitarian services to the most vulnerable communities. They are powered by over 10,000 volunteers across Southern Africa.”
After a weeklong training on Coordinated Disaster Response by the BDF in partnership with the Northern Carolina Army National Guard(NCNG), BRCS was awarded a coin of honor by the NCNG for its E,xcellence, Skill and Courage portrayed during the exercise. @kutlwanokokspic.twitter.com/Py4BmJGZ24
Remo proudly collaborated with Leyline on the organization’s first NFT drop to advance the social cause and help as many families as possible. A distinguished artist, Remo is also an award-winning photographer, director, and recognized figure in the NFT space. The magazine “Lurzer’s Archive” recently named him one of its 200 best creatives. Some of his works have been exhibited at Carrousel du Louvre(Paris) and he has collaborated with today’s leading brands and artists to create artwork such as Banksy, Obey, and Tommy Hilfiger, among others. Art is a vehicle for him to promote social awareness and contribute to important causes.
In total, Leyline will receive 30% of the proceeds to fund the development and administration of its altruistic platform.
“Our shared goal for this auction is to create sustainable passive income for individuals in need and create a compounding effect for impoverished communities,” says Jeremy Dela Rosa, founder and CEO of Leyline.
The proceeds that go to the Botswana Red Cross Society will be used to buy ‘Internet/NFT Starter Kits’. A smartphone, solar battery charger, and data plan will be included in these kits. Teams from Botswana Red Cross Society are on the ground directly supporting communities and will identify and continue to provide support to the recipients. As a result, recipients are able to share their experiences with the NFT and Leyline communities while earning more rewards and NFTs.
“A $350 starter kit per family can literally transform lives. The more funds we raise, the more individuals we can help. Please join us on our quest to eradicate poverty and rewrite the rules of the economy to reward empathy and compassion!” adds Dela Rosa, founder and CEO of Leyline.
About The Auction
The auction begins on June 18th at 9 am ET and concludes on June 25th at 12 pm ET. A collection of 6 NFT art pieces from Remo Camerota has been donated to benefit the cause.
The past week has had my mind occupied by the book ‘Because Internet’ by Gretchen McCulloch, which covers the linguistic changes brought about by people communicating online. One of the brief points it raises is that young people have flocked online not because they don’t want to socialize and play outside, but because those outside places have been restricted, controlled and commodified to the point where they can’t be accessed, utilized & experimented with.
So where do you go if everything is restricted? The new paradigm of digital spaces with unlimited possibility, of course. Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft, easily accessible worlds with ever-expanding toolsets, environments that promote and appreciate a lusory attitude. Spaces that mimic the long-lost forests, parks, and venues now dominated by increasing ticket prices, demolition, or restriction. Children don’t play in the roads, because they’re full of BMWs driving at 70mph. They don’t play at the bowling alley, because Jeff Bowlzos charges 15 dollars for a game, and you can’t play in the park because…
The trend for games and platforms in the present day (to maximize users and income) is to fulfill this need for play – creating spaces to be risk-free and ‘fun’ primarily, before being restricted by monetization – spaces for experimentation, before commercialization. Do the current offerings of (NFT enabled) Open Metaverse platforms offer this in abundance? Well, no – no to the point where somebody on a low-income FIAT salary still can’t really expect to engage in the platform, never mind kids.
As we’ve seen with F2P video games, their evolution has pushed the most successful models towards cosmetics-only monetization (Warzone, Fortnite, Roblox), with an emphasis on leaving any form of experimentation and play as a free component. Thisremoves the barrier of cost which young people struggle to overcome and allows them to provide onboarding, usage, propagation, experimentation, and therefore content, in abundance. It’s about socializing play because that’s the most profitable route.
“Yeah but I don’t want to sell it to kids!”, you say. Well, your audience doesn’t primarily become children, it becomes everyone – young people are the conduit to which new technology is accessed. The fun doesn’t stop at the age of 18, all of those adults with LEGO collections and horror movie obsessions are proof of this, if a product is fun, it’s still fun as an adult.
NFTs have allowed for a race to the bottom in regards to commodifying online spaces, and if we allow this commodifying behaviour to over-exert itself, the users who are most important to gaming’s current success will likely be dissuaded to adopt. What Metaverse worlds often amount to currently, are increasingly expensive blogging platforms with three-dimensional graphics. This is why we’ve yet to see a mass Metaverse onboarding from blockchain-enabled games, and why platforms like VRChat, Roblox, Minecraft & WoW currently have more mainstream appeal than Sandbox, Decentraland & Somnium. Metaverse Spaces, for the most part, require you to inject large sums of capital prior to being able to experiment properly with the platform. For example, needing to purchase land plots and items to be able to build, customize characters, or engage with the community gate keeps your primary conduits – while the free experiences offered in those worlds do not (yet) surpass basic mechanics & concepts – necessary for encouraging future expenditure.
Unsurprisingly, this forces a trajectory of feeding largely on whales & corporates for Metaverse spaces, because they are the sole users who can afford to utilize the tech.. Great, an easy market share… But as we’ve just discussed above,we don’t want to (proverbially) pave our Metaverse spaces with highways for commercial haulage, or restrict play to luxury penthouses for self-inflated frat boys. Metaverse spaces, to achieve mass appeal, should be spaces for experimentation and play, without the need for monetization.
So what about airdrops and ‘sponsored entry’? Are these good enough to supplement socialized access to these spaces, and ensure that mainstream audiences onboard and further the space’s usage/appeal? Consider this analogy: imagine you’re taking your child to a playground (Meta-world) that requires you to pay for a ticket to entry, while you’re surrounded by free access theme parks (Centralised-worlds), who are filled with customers creating a positive atmosphere, and who are purchasing a lot of hats, the hats aren’t theirs to keep, sure – but they don’t care, because the social credit is more important than the ownership itself. Currently the, comparatively small, playground is saying, ‘here’s a free ticket for one day a year’ or, ‘you can wear this free party hat when you’ve paid to visit’ – but it’s clearly not as exciting as the rollercoaster next door, and it’s also somewhat insulting, because let’s be honest, the slide is dull and the sandpit smells funny. So, to offer you such a small incentive seems somewhat absent-minded, considering the neighbours.
Meta-worlds, and meta-projects behaving in this way might bring in one or two new customers, but charging every time someone uses your jungle gym isn’t going to guarantee an enthusiastic group who create their own game of tag nearby, and certainly won’t provide the mass social hierarchy to encourage cosmetic spending.
What we should be looking at is a socialized system of baseline play, which, if we look at the history of MMOs, is a standard practice. It has been exhibited throughout successful online games up to this point, and seems to be an art lost by blockchain-enabled Metaverse spaces. For example, the concept of receiving housing ‘space’ in MMOs is not new, even Club Penguin did it. The expansion of that space is where the cost comes in, through play or through payment – Decentraland & CryptoVoxels for example, could provide all new users with a plot of land to utilize, but require purchasing for larger sizes, different plots, or location movement.
The problem is that these spaces, shortsightedly, currently serve the crypto community, and so unsurprisingly, depend on discerning individuals to spend on name, locations, looks, just about anything, based on sheer speculation. However, for true mainstream onboarding, the airdrop method, or ‘sponsorship’ systems, can’t compete with immersive F2P worlds which hook audience attention through entertainment, and then monetize as a secondary target to obtaining users.
This needs to be something keenly considered as a key component of any Open Metaverse play, cut off the big (cost) hurdles to experimentation, and the ability for power-users to amass control over experimentation, create a community that plays with your tech, and then commodify the hierarchy (not the play itself).
Metaverse spaces need to assess a ‘minimum viable fun’, to ensure they’re outdoing their competitors in regards to user attention, which means offering quality content, while not providing too much, for free. These meta-worlds would fare well to look beyond the golden trinket of a marine mammal’s pocket, and to the audience who will provide a long-term population, and success – the whales will follow.
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The Binance NFT marketplace, from the Binance crypto exchange, launches June 24th. The marketplace kicks off with “100 Creators” ranging from crypto artists to musicians to athletes. The launch is preceded by numerous NFT platforms and marketplaces appearing on the Binance Smart Chain (BSC). In addition, Featured by Binance recently launched under the auspices of the Binance developer network, Binance X.
Binance is currently ranked by CoinMarketCap as the world’s largest exchange based on volume. It has been particularly adept at fast following trends developed in other ecosystems, particularly in the world of Ethereum, and in finding ways to participate in decentralization while maintaining a very centralized organization. It is not the least bit surprising to see NFTs launching on BSC and for Binance itself to be launching an NFT platform. What remains to be seen are the larger potential effects of NFTs being directly supported by such a major force.
Binance NFT is expected to launch on June 24th featuring a high-end “Premium Event” category and a more open “Trading Market” category. The platform is custodial and will require Binance.com accounts to participate. The overall goal, as stated by the Head of Binance NFT, Helen Hai, is to “provide the largest NFT trading platform in the world with the best minting, buying, and exchanging experience, by leveraging the fastest and cheapest solutions.”
With low transaction fees and a 1% processing fee on sales, Binance sounds like a great deal. Perhaps the biggest catch is that the secondary marketplace will provide only a 1% royalty. Given the sizable role Binance plays, one would expect a large group of collectors to respond to this opportunity. While they might appreciate lower royalties, increasing the percentage would be a smart move by Binance in order to attract the best artists active on other blockchains.
That said, the “100 Creators,” include some standout names such as Osinachi, Kelvin Okafor, the Uganda National Museum and Trevor Jones. Other participants are known more as influencers or celebrities, such as Russell Simmons, or have a solid history in crypto art with somewhat less visibility in the West, such as IOYOI. Overall, the group seems relatively diverse though seems to be overly dominated by male participants even more than is typical in the space.
Musicians and sports figures will also play a prominent role, as noted in two preview posts on the Binance blog (here and here) again featuring only men. Musicians include Lil Yachty, Kyle and Lewis Capaldi while athletes include Michael Owen, Alphonso Davies and Guti.
I spoke briefly with four crypto artists about their involvement with Binance NFT.
Trevor Jones, well known for the “Picasso’s Bull” drop on Nifty Gateway in 2020, also created the “Binance, Bull and Rocket” physical artwork shown above and an animated NFT MP4 at that time. Due to the pandemic, Jones’ plans for exhibiting this work were put on extended hold. When Binance contacted Jones to see if he would be interested in participating in the launch, he recognized that it would be a great opportunity to finally release the NFT.
Notable African crypto artist Osinachi found out about Binance NFT when a Binance Africa staff member contacted him. He will be “sharing 5 artworks that encourage people to create happiness with what is around them.”
He also states:
“I’m joining Binance NFT marketplace because I feel that, just as they are an exchange with incredible success, they can help spread the NFT gospel to people in crypto and even add to the already existing channels through which enthusiasts can buy and trade NFTs.”
IOYOI, a crypto artist based in Taiwan, is active on a variety of platforms and is also a member of The Sandbox Creators Fund. He is “currently focusing on the combination of voxel and painting.” His initial collection for Binance NFT “interlaces retro games with today’s blockchain universe (metaverse), from sports video games to Sandbox lands.”
IOYOI is “honored” to be among “talents from various fields selected by Binance NFT platform to exhibit together.” He appreciates being in the first wave of creators given that it is a “big platform” and a “new opportunity” with many more artists able to join after July.
Phygital artist MAIKEUL will also be offering three 1/1 NFTs “which are the digital versions of physical works that will be available at Eternity Gallery in Paris, on the same date as the launch date of the NFT platform of Binance.” He is “super excited” about the launch and “think[s] Binance NFT is a good thing” to achieve “more visibility and to share [his] vision of what NFTs are.”
Featured by Binance is a related NFT platform, though non-custodial, that Binance X launched on June 17th. Its debut featured the work of Dylan Cole who has designed for over 60 films including Lord of the Rings, Avatar and Maleficent. Essentially Featured by Binance supplies the decentralized wing of Binance’s entry into the world of NFTs. This approach allows Binance to satisfy a broader range of needs than a centralized NFT marketplace alone could address.
A variety of other NFT marketplaces and platforms have launched or are launching on BSC, including some that will be compatible with other blockchains as well, such as:
While the Binance NFT marketplace, along with Featured by Binance, may initially overwhelm smaller NFT platforms on BSC, in the long run, it may well produce a stronger ecosystem. Binance’s efforts to promote NFTs will likely validate them to skeptics in a way that numerous smaller platforms could not do so easily. As Binance introduces a growing number of new collectors to NFTs, some will eventually seek out specialized markets on BSC. Enticing artists and collectors when Binance will offer its own NFT marketplace next to Featured by Binance will be no simple task for smaller platforms. But those prepared for the long haul will find themselves part of what is likely to be an incredibly rich ecosystem for NFTs on BSC.
Featured Images by Binance
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This past week, President Biden signed a bill into law making Juneteenth a national holiday. Although the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation officially freed all enslaved peoples in 1863, June the nineteenth marks the date, two and a half years later (in 1865), when Federal troops marched into Texas to effectively implement this order. Finally recognizing this long-held tradition at the Federal level, Biden’s administration acknowledges the fact that the fourth of July is not everybody’s day of independence in this country. Commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, Juneteenth celebrates Black Americans’ progress and commitment to continue fighting for equality and meaningful social change in the ever-flawed system we exist in today.
Official recognition of this holiday is no panacea for the structural inequities Black Americans continue to encounter. However, while celebrating this step forward, we must continue to demand reparations, demand an end to police violence, demand representative and accessible education, and continue to fight for Black liberation. Black contributions in labour, culture, innovation, and the arts, have made this country what it is today, yet Black artists continue to be overshadowed in traditional networks.
This year, in celebration of Juneteenth, Black Lives Matter (BLM) is collaborating with Nifty Gateway (one of the current largest NFT marketplaces) to host a digital art fair, highlighting the work of several Black creators. The exhibit features artists such as Oto Abasi Attah, Gianni Lee, Shanina Dionna, Julian Gillam (AKA Logik), Kennedy Yanko, and others.
The exhibit, curated by Damon Turner (founder of Trap Heals), exemplifies a growing trend in the NFT space through which digital partnerships allow influencers, or organizations, in collaboration, to harness their audience in order to maximize sales. This collaborative tactic is not unlike the collective action we see in social activism more frequently.
But why choose NFTs?
The NFT space gives Black creatives the opportunity to transcend geographical boundaries, political barriers, and produce radical art in a radical space. It is understood that the power of truth often depends upon the power of whom it is in the hands of. Many minority groups, notably Black Americans, have had their truths silenced for many decades. Yet, through collective action and political agency, minority groups have, over time, been able to work to translate truth into power. NFTs present a forum for this kind of translation — freeing artists from the constraints of governmental and/or corporate bureaucracy. In the traditional art world, power structures and inequities have solidified themselves over time. NFTs place power in the hands of the artist. Though leading social change in the decentralized space of NFTs at its infancy, BLM and other social movements may be able to play a role in shaping the future of NFT marketplaces and how they might be able to advance a shared cause.
The NFT platform, aside from its social implications and benefits for artists, holds investment appeal as well. NFTs present unique value to potential donors in terms of the unique return value, provable scarcity, indivisibility, guaranteed ownership through smart contracts, transferability, and cryptographic security. These characteristics of NFTs enable creators and consumers to engage in transactions through secure, transparent, and efficient means.
In whole, the platform complies with artists’ needs, consumers’ needs, and overall serves to bolster the cause of BLM, in its mission “to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.” This past Juneteenth, and onwards, it is important to reflect not only upon past realities – but also on the ways in which we can pave the way for greater equality in the future. The decentralization of power propagated by the NFT space is beginning to spur change in this direction.
Marking Juneteenth as a national holiday has inspired a reclamation of Black stories, histories, and celebrations, as exemplified by this BLM X Trap Heals initiative on Nifty.