SUMMARY

A momentous announcement has just been made by the US Congress that Juneteenth will be a national holiday, commemorating the abolition of slavery.

To mark Juneteenth weekend (the 18-20th of June), Towards Utopia organized a special exhibition for Superchief Gallery, “The Digital Diaspora: Liberating Black Creativity,’ curated by Diana Sinclair, a queer 17-year-old artist and activist. Black digital artists from around the world will be featured in an exhibition organized by Towards Utopia & Foundation. Sales will be made using NFT technology, and proceeds will benefit GLITS, which provides free housing assistance for Black Trans people and HerStoryDao, as well as arts funding for Black Women and non-binary Femmes. A selection of pieces will be shown on LinkNYC digital displays throughout the five boroughs in addition to the gallery show.

Artist: Sewah Attafuah – #TheDigitalDiaspora Exhibition

The US Congress declares Juneteenth a National Holiday 

The United States House of Representatives passed and forwarded a bill to President Joe Biden on Wednesday designating June 19, or “Juneteenth,” as a federal holiday – marking the end of legal enslavement of African Americans.

The holiday commemorates the day in 1865 when a Union general notified a group of enslaved individuals in Texas that they had been freed two years before by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

In a 415-14 vote, the House approved the bill. Its success comes one year after the brutal murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer ignited nationwide protests against racism and policing.

In a signing ceremony at the White House on Thursday afternoon, President Biden will sign the bill into law.

 

Special EXHIBITION

On the weekend of Juneteenth (6/19/21) in New York City, the Digital Diaspora art exhibition, public installation, and fundraising auction will take place. The Digital Diaspora (TDD) celebrates Black artists from around the globe while aiming to explore new frontiers in the avant garde world of new media. TDD, led by award-winning artist Diana Sinclair, builds on the groundbreaking achievements of Alondra Nelson expanding the scope of Afrofuturism.   

Towards Utopia, in partnership with Sinclair, has created a robust program, which will be launched on June 19th with an opening event at Superchief Gallery

At 10am PST / 1pm EST the same day, Foundation will host a 17 lot auction of which a portion will be donated to GLITS (Gays and Lesbians living In a Transgnder Society) – which provides free housing to Black trans people – and the HerStoryDao collective to preserve creative projects by Black women and non-binary artists. A selection of works from this exhibition will also be exhibited on LinkNYC screens across New York City, made possible by NYC & Co.

 

Artists: Tyler Givens & Lauren M. Wash – #TheDigitalDiaspora Exhibition

“It’s especially appropriate for an art show promoting Black artists to be held on the day that celebrates Black freedom,” Sinclair explains. “Black freedom allowed for the growth of Black art in America, yet there’s still work to be done to give more Black artists even greater exposure to a wider audience. Now we can add digital platforms and technology to our efforts to not only widen the space for Black artists, but to address the intersectional marginalization of Black people.”

“Following Itzel Yard’s groundbreaking sale on Foundation last month,” says Foundation’s Community Director, Lindsay Howard, “we’re excited to support Towards Utopia in their effort to uplift and center Black artists.” The auction will partially benefit HerStoryDAO, an organization committed to furthering the careers of Black femme artists, which will have lasting impacts on the NFT community at large.”

 

A Brief History of Foundation 

The NFT platform Foundation uses blockchain technology to build a new creative economy, allowing creators to monetize their online expressions in a whole new way, and connect more deeply with their fans. It is a bridge between crypto and culture that fosters a network of mutual support between artists, creators, and collectors. 

Foundation has earned more than $75M in direct benefits since its launch in February 2021, and almost 500 artists have made over $20K individually through the platform. Not to mention over 5,000 unique bidders are registered on the site. The Foundation terminal shows live market updates as they come in. 

 

Towards Utopia: An Introduction

An organization focused on education, resources, and art; Towards Utopia is a trans-feminist and anti-racist organization. The group raises funds on behalf of boots-on-the-ground organizations to support the needs of the Black trans community. Moreover, they bring food and clothing directly to people through mutual aid events. 

Using social media, they educate the public about racism and identify resources available to POC and gender-non-conforming individuals, such as grants and employment opportunities. In their 2020 print sale – which featured artists such as Nan Goldin, Richie Shazam, Ryan McGinley, Charles Caesar, and Lia Clay – they raised almost $100,000 for GLITS, FOR THE GWORLS, and SWOP. 

 

Featured Artists

The upcoming auction and exhibition will highlight the work of Black artists who are highly visible in the NFT world, many of whom have prominent sales on Foundation.

Google Slides Presentation of Artists

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Since at least June 8th, a number of crypto artists have announced on Twitter that they were tricked into downloading malicious files because they believed that they were being contacted via social media for art commissions. The combination of social engineering and software hacks led to the loss of untold sums and NFTs to the attackers. A great deal of information was shared on Twitter about the attacks and a number of brief guides to improve NFT security were shared by artists and their allies as well.

Early Warning

Perhaps the earliest alert came from artist Suryanto Sur who posted on June 8th that not only was his wallet hacked but that the attackers were sending additional threats and demanding a ransom:

This dramatic news first appeared to be an isolated horror story, but was soon revealed to be an early warning of widespread attacks. Though the details varied, the essential plotline involved outreach for an art commission, whether corporate or personal, followed by a link to a zipped file on Google drive. Once the file was downloaded and unzipped, it revealed an SCR file that unleashed a software attack allowing the hackers to access passwords and other sensitive information. Attackers stole money and NFTs and often demanded ransom payments.

 

Spreading the Word

On June 11th, three days after the attack on Suryanto Sur, FVCKRENDER announced that he too had been attacked via a similar scenario (see also featured image above):

 

Based on a large number of retweets and responses, this announcement seems to have gotten the most attention, and alerted a wide range of artists to the ongoing threat. However, this writer observed, even after numerous alerts, multiple new announcements by artists who had just fallen prey to the scam proved that they were unsure of what to do and were reaching out for help on Twitter. In addition, it seems some thought the first attacks occurred on June 11th based on the visibility of the attack on FVCKRENDER.

As both RenderedFlesh and Pascal Marsolais pointed out, one important community defense is to share news of such attacks to raise awareness regarding current tactics as well as to encourage additional self-education over the long-term. This approach ultimately succeeded but the unfolding of events raises the question of whether or not earlier widespread sharing of alerts might have reduced the number of victims.

 

Catching Our Collective Breath

There were also lighter moments in the midst of what were real tragedies for many artists. Squirterer shared a number of screenshots and a description of her process of toying with one of the attackers leading to a humorous punchline.

SP4CE passed along a piece by Jeremy Torman describing how he “turned a scammer into an art collector.” His account of scamming the scammer for 0.1 ETH via an art sale is a humorous reminder that crypto artists don’t have to live in fear if they maintain consistent awareness of possible threats and act accordingly.

 

NFT Security Practices

As many have noted on Twitter, scams that convince individuals that the scammer is on their side and has good news have a long history; as do the use of such executable files as SCR. Such threats have been particularly common, though not limited to, Windows users. And some feel that everyone should already be aware of the situation. To a large degree, the positive response of so many artists to commission offers speaks to the power of a well-chosen psychological point of entry into the victim’s world.

Manifold, a company that provides NFT minting services to crypto artists including FVCKRENDER, reached out and supported the artist in the wake of the attack. Manifold shared a postmortem with additional technical details and advice.

Manifold’s suggested best practices include:

  • Use a hardware wallet.
  • Do not store seed phrases on digital devices in plain text.
  • Use password managers rather than saving passwords in browsers.
  • Enable 2FA on all accounts.

Additional threads and links to articles on NFT and wallet security were shared by individuals on Twitter including:

 

Bharat Krymo also shared relevant crypto security tips prior to this wave of attacks.

However, as in all areas involving critical information, DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. Studying advice from multiple sources can not only reveal established best practices, but can also reveal when some advice has become outdated. In addition, relatively timeless practices, such as not downloading files from strangers, will be communicated to your unconscious brain causing you to develop better security intuition as well.

 

Next Steps

As NFTS WTF DAO member Sillytuna points out, there are a variety of steps the NFT industry and adjacent companies could be taking to support the security of artists and collectors:

 

Industry associations like the Blockchain Game Alliance might put effort into establishing higher security industry standards across platforms as well as joining together in educational efforts.

We should also be contacting relevant web services and government agencies when events like these occur such as SamuelCardillo.eth notes. Though not all services and agencies will be responsive, keep in mind that we must educate them as to our concerns, and be sure to document all contacts. Such records may be useful at a later date, for example, when speaking with the press or doing follow-up reports. Note that Mintable reached out to help with information for law enforcement agencies.

The most effective response to date to attacks like those recently hitting crypto artists is for the community to rapidly spread the word when new waves of attack occur and to share educational resources. We must continue to remind newcomers of best security practices, even when such practices seem well-established and obvious, so that they might take appropriate steps. And, in all cases, we must encourage each other to DYOR in NFT Land just as we do in other settings in which we find ourselves vulnerable to malevolent forces.

[Featured image via FVCKRENDER]

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Most would agree that music is an important part of the human experience, and we are all wondering what role NFTs will play in the industry. Frequency and rhythm make up our lives as individuals. Every breath we take is a metronome to our thoughts and movements. Our inner rhythms have all been shaken with the pandemic, but issues within the music industry have been brewing for much longer than that. Some believe that NFTs may be the remedy. 

That shared energetic communication is now going to be incorporated into the metaverse. A new green platform has been created to offer musicians of all levels a place to be seen and heard, while also supporting the causes and initiatives that are important to them.  It’s also perfect for the fan bases, as they will be able to connect to their favorite artists regardless of their location or status. With the importance of genres and job titles fading, the music industry has figured out a way to make the system breathe again in an inclusive, sustainable fashion. 

 

Quincy Jones and a very powerful group including Adam Fell, Joshua James, and tech entrepreneur Lyn Dae are the founders of OneOf. These powerhouses have curated a proof of work protocol that is efficient while emphasizing the importance of protecting our environment. While traditional proof of work protocols aren’t necessarily unsustainable, this boasts being 2 million times more efficient than Ethereum platforms. Hopefully, this gives new body and breath to the music industry through NFTs, which will augment what music can be and establish a new structure that can regenerate the industry. With top artists already on board and ready to share themselves in a new way, a much-needed revolution is forthcoming.

Dae’s background as an early investor in Zoom, and Jones’s timeless legacy as a godfather of the modern-day music industry, are a perfect pairing for this project. Their focus will be on creating freedom for any musician to share music on their own terms while utilizing a swift eco-friendly cryptocurrency.  As an added bonus, there will be no minting or gas fees for creating NFTs on this platform. 

“The artist can sell NFTs at any price… one NFT for a million dollars or a million NFTs for one dollar.” Oneof will also offer a team of marketing strategists for new artists, which is incredible. This will heal so many voices and expressions that have been suppressed for so long in the collective consciousness. OneOf offers a place for beginners to come together with established artists and have easy access to their same network. There are limitless opportunities for personal promotion, and fan base participation. As well as options for exclusive content allowing for a more tailored experience. Quincy Jones has also incorporated a way for a percentage of the sales to go to various causes, putting emphasis on the artist’s social and environmental responsibilities and contributions. 

 

Each time an NFT is resold, the artist will receive royalties, even on secondary sales. Jones is granting the wish of anyone who wants a chance to be a musician, skipping the legal processes that often cause songs to become lost in translation. This will likely awaken an infinite fan base, emboldened by the freedom for an artist to market and display themselves as they see fit. Jones will also be minting NFTs from his phenomenal personal catalogue. Unknown artists will have hope that they can leverage the same power of NFTs without the usual gatekeepers closing them out, and without exorbitant fees.

Oneof will be fantastic for recording artists, enabling limitless navigation of NFTs where value can be decided by the creator and the collector, with no authenticity lost. It will also be an amazing platform for fans with the thrill of personal social-media(esque) content that connects them to their favourite musicians. Oneof appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel and has the potential to be the most authentic way music has ever lived thus far.

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Tomorrow, on June 17th, Unstoppable domains will be launching the next phase of their incredible crypto-centric domain offerings.  The team is “excited to announce the upcoming launch of 8 NEW blockchain domain registries which will be made available for pre-sale starting” tomorrow! These include: .x, .wallet, .nft, .blockchain, .bitcoin, .888, .dao, and .coin. 

Unstoppable Domains Airdrop
Unstoppable Domains Airdrop

 

Being an owner of more than one unstoppable domain, this is very exciting news for me! Imagine the possibility of replacing your wallet’s public key with simply “yourname.wallet” – how easy would that be! Not to mention all of the industry-specific alternative options which seem to perfectly cater to the current framework of the space. Allocating specific URLs for DAOs, NFT creators, Bitcoin Maximalists, 888 (for those who believe in luck), and more! 

At the moment the site only offers two domain types: .crypto and .zil – which have become extremely popular in the space.  Their biggest selling feature is the fact that, unlike traditional domains, once you purchase an unstoppable domain you own it for life.  According to the unstoppable team: “Blockchain domains are owned not rented.”  When someone buys “the domain with a one time registration fee” they never have to “worry about renewals again.”  For those of us who own several domains through industry leaders like GoDaddy and NameCheap, and pay increasing annual fees – this is extremely attractive.  Furthermore, once purchased your “domain is stored in your wallet, just like a cryptocurrency.” And cannot be manipulated or forwarded by anyone but its owner.  

Many folks in the space have stopped sending out their confusing long string wallet ID, opting instead to use their easy to remember .crypto unstoppable domain that they connected to route assets to their crypto wallets. This feature is what makes these new domain options attractive; users can buy multiple types and choose to connect each one to a different wallet designated for specific web 3 activities.  Having a .nft for your NFTs, a .bitcoin for your bitcoin wallet, and a .wallet for your Metamask could be what the future might look like for some of us.  

Furthermore, to make their launch even more exciting, Unstoppable domains is also initiating a $100 Million Airdrop giveaway incentive in tandem with the launch of their eight new domains.  According to their team, as a reward for early adopters of their domains, they “will be Airdropping over $100+ Million worth of promo credits to customers at launch – giving $3 in promo credits for every $1 spent on domain purchases at unstoppabledomains.com including past purchases.”  For anyone familiar with this site, I have good news for you.  If you have ever bought a $40 domain through Unstoppable: “congratulations you will receive $120 in promo credits.”  Furthermore, those who took the plunge and purchased premium domains for $100k, are now eligible for up to $300k in free domains!

Feeling the FOMO yet?  Well you’re in luck.  If you happen to be reading this article on the day of it’s release (Wednesday, June 16th) then you are still eligible to buy a domain here and participate in this historic airdrop!  I for one will be purchasing several domains with my free cash and can’t wait to start allocating and simplifying my crypto keys and websites.

Find out more at https://unstoppabledomains.com/

 

This article is NOT sponsored content. 

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When you manage to capture a moment defined by excitement, then combine it with the tokenization that is an NFT, it immediately solidifies that event in time. Those who were present for a now minted event can relive said experience a million times over and even transfer it to someone who missed out on that opportunity, giving them the chance to be exposed to what they may have missed. In other words, past generations can hold onto these moments of nostalgia while future generations can understand first-hand the significance of monumental events that took place before their time. NBA Topshot has managed to do this repeatedly and has cemented itself among the top contributors to the digital world that is NFT’s.

 

     This begs the question, is this exclusive to athletics and can this be applied to other aspects of entertainment? I believe this is not exclusive to sports, but also applicable to a wide variety of entertainment genres including, but not limited to, music. We already know music can be minted in a variety of ways, so why am I bringing it up? Well as we’ve seen, music entertainment, more specifically- rap music, has been captured via imagery, digital gifs, and sound bytes – then later sold as exclusive NFT’s. What if we could capture a famous moment on stage, such as the infamous performance of the Tupac hologram, and give it the 1/1 stamp to pass on ownership of the experience? For instance, Lebron James’ Dunk on November 15th, 2019 is being sold by NBA Topshot for $250,000 (or at the time of writing this 97.64 ETH). 

Lil Nas X Billy Ray Cyrus
Lil Nas X Billy Ray Cyrus

   

I’d argue there are moments of history in music entertainment that are just as, if not more valuable, than Lebron’s aforementioned dunk. I know everyone in my generation looks back fondly upon the up in smoke tour lead by Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre. Imagine the green lights, Snoop Dogg’s impeccable wardrobe, the atmosphere encapsulated into a single moment that thousands of people wish they could reimagine. There are similar moments that are more contemporary such as the first Rolling Loud tour, The Courtroom Chronicles of Tekashi69 as documented in sketches by artist Jane Rosenberg, or even the groundbreaking release of Old Town Road by Lil Nas X. Note how these are critical moments in an artist’s timeline, not just on-stage performances. Footage of the first Rolling Loud Tour can be condensed into a digital gif, Tekashi 69 could use his sense of self-deprecating humor to compile a digitized version of songs he hand wrote in prison, Lil Nas X could accompany a gif of him and Billy Ray Cyrus with a sound-byte of Old Town Road’s chorus. 

Biggie Tupac Budweiser Fest.
Biggie Tupac Budweiser Fest.

 

An epic performance can now be minted and transformed from a moment of nostalgia into a not-so-distant memory. Like many articles you’ll find here, this one is quite speculative. Suffice it to say it is my personal opinion that music entertainment in relation to NFTs will only evolve. So far, all we’ve seen in the hip-hop space are Pieces based on smaller moments in time such as Lil Pump’s Jewelry or “esskeetit” card.These just seem like digital pieces of merchandise and pale in comparison to other substantial moments in his career, such as his Gucci Gang video which, as it stands, currently has amassed over one billion views after garnering 10 million on its first day. Don’t give me these poorly thought-out generic pieces of ‘merch,’ Lil Pump… Give me a moment in time! It still remains to be seen as to who the first artist or label will be to implement a level of nostalgia for the fans in this space. What we need is releases with more magnitude, with the consumer in mind, and not what seems to be artists’ money-grubbing simply because NFT’s are popular.

 

     The NBA differs from Hip-Hop in many important ways. Most significantly, the NBA essentially has American basketball under its belt in a roster format that would be impossible for a record label. This is critical in understanding the challenges that coincide with minting various moments in time. There are a multitude of legalities that have the potential to be deterrents for massive events in the hip hop world. Where as in the world of NBA, we can find on NBA Topshots’ website Zion Williamson’s iconic block which is #49 of their first cosmic series. However  Atlantic or Warner Brothers may have trouble coming to a mutually beneficial agreement to create and release a product. Especially considering the frequency in which artists have fallen out in the music, but more specifically Hip-Hop, industries. Think about the enormity that would be associated with a minting of the mind blowing freestyle Tupac and Biggie Smalls showcased at the Budweiser Superfest of January 15th 1994. The politics surrounding their relationships with one another while they were alive, in addition to the lure and mystery of their careers, alongside the preceding ‘beef,’ would only prove to be a major selling point. It also would inevitably prove to be the reason this would never happen. There are too many similar situations in the world of rap music from those as extreme as this example to instances as simple as an image issue.

 

Tekashi-= 6ix9ine courtroom sketch
Tekashi 6ix9ine courtroom sketch

 

In summary there is infinite potential for the world of Hip-Hop to make major virtual strides just like the NBA has managed to. However, their maximum potential won’t be realized until this artform can practice more unity amongst itself and it’s artists. It is also critical that competing record labels establish more comradery with one another to allow for more cultural growth. This benefits everyone from big wig executives down to the kid listening to the radio on the way to school. The metaverse, as it currently stands, is nowhere near as fruitful as it can be. Influence from other forms of entertainment will be what takes it to the next level. Let me be clear when I say that the minting process is brand new to most within it’s space. It is up to us as creatives and influencers to spread the knowledge and grow collectively. And this is what will ultimately open more doors for our community. The potential is there, let’s actualize it.

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We knew the moment would come when jewelry would enter the NFT space. It was only a matter of time, and that time is upon us, my friends! I just had a lovely conversation with fashion editor turned NFT jewelry connoisseur Francine Ballard aka MetaGolden. After trying to pay an artist in Belarus and failing, she was able to see the immense value of crypto. She realized that the artist had no access to Paypal or even a bank account and was unable to receive funds at all. That’s when she decided to use Instagram to walk them through obtaining their first crypto wallet and paid them in Ethereum! She confesses that even she was new to the crypto space, but had to do something to help.

 “I’m just enamored with this space because there’s so much human potential there.” The mother of two explains, “to me, it’s about empowerment, and it’s empowering people and groups that didn’t have power before. It’s levelling the playing field and making everyone connected to each other.”

The human connection is a beautiful aspect indeed, not to mention the whole “women being badasses with NFTs” tangent I could take us down. Wonderful topics to elaborate on later, but I brought you here today for the BLING. MetaGolden drops on Opensea TODAY and part of their collection is already spoken for by the celebrity friends of artist Ashley Longshore.

 Francine Ballard
Francine Ballard

 

Glowing digital art accompanied by its physical counterpart of 18k tangible gold moulded into gorgeous jewelry. On its own, that’s pretty friggin awesome, but don’t drop the mic yet. She announced that she already has “Blockchains” in production. Modelled with a super cool coding design that every tech head will love, and soon to be embedded with a crypto cold storage wallet and NFT display (as soon as I get her a collab with Apple)!! Seriously though… I was thinking about mentioning it to Wiz and his Taylor Gang too since they are interested in NFTs, but I’m bringing it to you all first!! Get these while you can, because the sellout game is as real as the gold they’re made of. When asked about collaborating with Taylor Gang, Francine was delighted at the thought: Hmmm….I think we’re onto something guys… Taylor Tokens on the GangChain? Lol ok, It’s a work in progress, but you catch my drift.

 

Ashley Longshore
Ashley Longshore

 

Back to our girl Francine. She spent years at publications like In Style, so she knows a thing or two about fashion, which is clearly conveyed in her curated designs. She’s no rookie to the jewelry realm either, with exclusive connections to flawless stones and metals. Her business savvy mentality and philanthropic heart are as beautiful as her wearable art, if not more so. I will leave you with this for now, so you can hurry up and go buy yours, but I assure you this won’t be the last you hear of the MetaGolden Legacy.

Metagolden
MetaGolden

 

Code Ring
Code Ring

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Users from around the world gathered Friday, June 11 to celebrate Decentraland’s (DCL) inaugural Pride Parade. Music, parade floats, and dancers filled the newly built ‘Rainbow Road.’ The event was dazzling, but most spectacular of all were the droves of avatars sporting the latest DCL fashion. 

Just weeks before the event, DCL enabled their ‘Wearables Editor.’ This allowed designers to create their unique in-game collections and sell them as NFTs on the DCL marketplace. A handful of quality collections were approved and released the day of the parade.

 

DCL-Pride-Rainbow-Road-Fashion-Kiosk-DCL-Pride-2021.png

 

Users lined up in front of kiosks to purchase their new items. Some 30,000 active users were given free wearables from the DCL Pride Collection. MetaZoo International hosted a drop party before the parade releasing their genesis collection. By the time the parade started, all in attendance were showing their pride with newly minted outfits.

Here are some of the best styles spotted during DCL Pride 2021;

DCL Pride Electric Pride Helmet PlusLove Tiger Warriors Torso Wonderzone Pride Pink Shorts Retro One Kicks

Helmet: Electric Pride +Love Collection

Top: Tiger Warriors Torso, Wonderzone Pride Spring 2021

Shorts: DCL Pink Pride Shorts

Shoes: MetaZoo Intl. Retro 1 Kicks

 

Hat: MetaZoo Intl. BlackCat Hood

Top: MetaZoo Intl. BlackCat Hoodie

Joggers: MetaZoo Intl. BlackCat Joggers

Shoes: MetaZoo Intl. Retro 1 Kicks

Eyewear: MetaZoo Intl. Tinted Glasses

Accessories: CZ Mecenary MTZ Exo-Blades

I managed to speak to MetaZoo Intl. founder ‘iZoo’ about their successful drop. “The drop was very exciting, long overdue, but worth the wait! Wearables on layer 2 now are a total game-changer as there is no minting/gas costs. The collection was well-received by the community and we are already thinking about new collections!” said iZoo.

Hat: Casino Visor Community Contest

Eyewear: MetaZoo Intl. Tinted Glasses

Mask: Meteorite Dustmask

Top: Polygon Thunder Jacket

Trousers: Hiroto Kai Pride Pants

Shoes: MetaZoo Intl. Retro 1 Kicks

 

Top: Flamingo Party Outfit

Top: Pride Love Wins T-Shirt

Mask: Floral Skull Halloween 2019

(Photo courtesy of Null PC)

Top: Full Body Swimsuit – Pride Parade 2021 Collection

Shoes: Left- Atrati X RTFK Sneakers, Right- Polygon Thunder Sneakers


I had the chance to speak with ‘Null PC’ who’s swimsuit design was a big hit at the parade.  “I knew once the opportunity came that I wanted to make something people wouldn’t forget, and I don’t think you can forget the image of someone in a lime green Manakini once you’ve seen it.” said Null. “The wearables tool is one of many aspects that enable creators and collectors to contribute to the community and help Decentraland progress and reach its full potential.”

 

Top: Hiroto Kia Fire Kimono

Trousers: Hiroto Kia Fire Kimono Pants

I asked artist and designer, Hiroto Ka, about using the new wearables editor in DCL. “I thought the design process was difficult at first to understand the geometry of a moving avatar and how the clothes move alongside their gestures. But after amazing help from the design committee, I was able to nail down my design and understand fully how it works. My next step for my wearables is to create more rare and more common style Kimonos and Japanese attire.” said Kai.

Left: Cybermike Cybersoldier Set

Right

Headwear: Wonderbot Head, Digital Alchemy Hair

Top: Pride Love Wins T-Shirt

Trousers: Pride Sport Pants

Shoes: Pride Rainbow Shoes

Accessories: DC Nifty Blocksmith Drone

The parade was electric! Celebrations carried on throughout the night with live music and giveaways. With successful drops from each designer, it appears digital fashion is thriving in Decentraland.

 

 

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Miami Florida, a vacation spot for some, or the up and coming cryptocurrency capital of the world for crypto-heads. June 2021 was a month full of festivities, from community meet-ups to the largest Bitcoin conference in history! There were dozens of events to choose from, however one stands out in particular, charmingly named Shitcoin 2021- and that’s no typo! On June 3rd and 4th, Shitcoin 2021 was held in the heart of Wynwood, conveniently located down the street from Bitcoin 2021. The real question is; why did this happen? Kenn Bosak had a bright idea when some of his friends were turned away from sponsoring the largest crypto event the world has seen… so “we’re gonna do our own conference, and we’re gonna call it shitcoin- because everything that is not Bitcoin to a maxi is a shitcoin”. 

One month later, Shitcoin was manifested. Shitcoin 2021 was created to highlight inclusivity within the crypto space. Ironically, there were even some Bitcoin maximalists speaking at the event. Some notable mentions included: Tone Vays, Bitcoin Vegan, and Paul Sztorc. Bitcoin maximalism has it’s reputation, to some it’s a form of supreme sound money, to others it can be seen as harsh and toxic. The truth is there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Bitcoin maximalism, what’s wrong is the exclusive environment that certain individuals create that discredits hard-working and valid projects in the space. 

Kenn Bosak

 

The event that started off as an inside-joke that became a reality thanks to an enormous amount of community effort. Featuring over 50 speakers; from the NFT The Movie panel with Jeff Crane, Kenn Bosak, Miggy Crypto, Jack Storm, and Nathan Love- to A very intense law panel with Bitcoin Khaleesi, Jason Seibert, and defendant Nathan Hulk . 25+ sponsors and contributors participated from companies like Matter FI, Vy FInance, IllMind, and Shiba Inu. The venue was packed with passionate community members. Other notable mentions include the Haha for Hire comedy show with Mike Salvi’s entourage, Featuring Sam Tripoli; Flote Token Public Sale Taco Party; and Meow DAO Pizza Happy Hour (this event was very much worth attending).

The best part of all, the entire event was donation based: General Admission, Sponsorships, and Booths! All funds were generated through donation prior to June 1st. Attendees were able to purchase tickets for as little as a dollar, and can donate as much as they want to support the cause. Shitcoin 2021 brings back the grassroots movement within the crypto industry. The event was a place for a community to come together and become friends, even family; where ideas and cultures mixed, collided, and created a synergy that is so needed in this crypto/NFT space. Our goal was to not only highlight the variety of great alt-coin projects backed by great people who are looking to make a change in the world, but also to provide a safe and loving space that any one would be free to be themselves and connect with others on a very personal level to speak life… not just cryptocurrency. What was accomplished at Shitcoin 2021 will soon come to light in a big way that will prove to the world what the REAL crypto-community is about.  Wherever a Bitcoin Conference is, you can be rest assured Shitcoin won’t be far behind. Until next year! NFT movie

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With #CryptoCleanUp, a beach clean-up was hosted on South Beach in conjunction with the Bitcoin Conference 21 and NFTs.tips Miami side-events and NFT exhibitions. Clean Miami Beach, a locally based non-profit, collected 148LBS of waste, kicking off a series of 5 beach clean-up events in honor of World Oceans Day 2021. The waste collected was used to make fantastic art pieces that will be minted as NFTs.

Crypto Clean Up
Photo Credit: Bruce Valverde & Zack George

 

Event

45 volunteers participated in #CryptoCleanUp, an event hosted by Clean Miami Beach and Collr.co on June 5th during the Bitcoin Conference 2021. Despite having less than 4 days to organize, the volunteers were able to clean 148 pounds of waste during 2 hours of work. 

Clean Miami Beach is a locally based non-profit that has conducted 124 beach clean-ups across the city since 2019, collecting 28.725 pounds of waste from Miami Beaches with their mission and goal;  “to keep (the) community and natural habitats free of garbage and other harmful land pollutants with a focus on single-use plastics…such as grocery bags, food packaging, bottles, straws, containers, cups, and utensils are extremely damaging to the unique fragile ecosystem of Miami Beach and its marine wildlife.” 

Drew Danzeisen, founder of Collr.co, intended for the cleanup to show the passion the crypto community has for the environment at a time when the community has been attacked over its energy impact. Regardless of the debatability of those claims, Drew wanted to show that crypto enthusiasts are also environmentalists and as caring for the planet as anyone else. Collr.co, which works with nonprofits, businesses, and individuals to generate campaigns and experiences through physical and digital collectibles/NFTs is experienced in marketing, branding, and in NFT strategy and hopes to bring his abilities to further noble causes.

 

Crypto Clean Up Miami
Photo Credit: Bruce Valverde & Zack George

 

Sophie Ringel, founder of Clean Miami Beach said, “#CryptCleanUp was amazing. We can’t thank our volunteers and supporters enough for their collective efforts for this cleanup and we are excited to tell our story of eliminating single use plastics through NFTs.”

Drew mentioned that the accomplishment was largely thanks to Sophie’s willingness to dedicate such passion to the event at such short notice. The idea was broached to Clean Miami Beach only 4 days before, and their collaboration on the event in large part drove its success.

As part of the cleanup, the trash collected was made into beautiful art, belying the waste it was made with. A remarkable sense of irony to see such fascinating work made with nothing but garbage. The magnificent art that was made is set to be minted as NFTs, and will be Clean Miami Beach’s official entry point into the NFT community! As their proceeds go towards keeping Miami beaches and our oceans clean, their entry should be well received by many others who share their passion. 

In addition, the organizers and the host expressed their gratitude for the great support of the locals as well as Seafarer Beach Resort, Block Party, and SRelix for contributing to their event giveaways.

NFTs For Good 

As more organizations become aware of NFTs, many recognize a community which can help them grow and increase their impact. In the case of #CryptoCleanUp , it is already noble to have spent so much time cleaning trash on beaches, but to take advantage of the amount of trash gathered by making it art and then into NFTs adds value for comparatively little additional effort. Clean Miami Beach benefits from that added value brought to it by bright folks like Drew and Collr.co, while the NFT community diversifies with more commendable causes.

The ocean-themed art will be minted as NFTs that will launch on Blockparty‘s NFT marketplace, which incorporates both cryptocurrency and credit card payment methods. The proceeds of the sales will be allocated to the local non-profit Clean Miami Beach. The wallet belongs to Clean Miami Beach, so this is their genesis collection and a warm welcome is well-deserved.

Photo Credit: Walter Lethu x Adidas

 

Additional World Oceans Day Campaigns in Miami

In addition, volunteers of the #CryptoCleanUp engaged in a 1K run on South Beach taking part in the Adidas X Parley  “Run For The Oceans” campaign for 2021. 

For the fourth consecutive year, the Adidas X Parley, “Run For The Oceans” campaign returned from May 28 to June 8, coinciding with the Bitcoin Conference 2021 with its mission; to address ocean plastic pollution. 

The Campaign brings together runners from all over the world. Anyone could join the Adidas Running app challenge from May 28 through June 8, and run, walk, or wheel in a  wheelchair to help end plastic waste. In the five-week period from May 28 to June 8, Adidas X Parley cleaned beaches, remote islands, and coastlines at a rate of 10 plastic bottles per kilometer via the Adidas Running App (Strava/Joyrun). 

Check out their websites: Clean Miami Beach and Collr.co

 

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Widespread concerns about the energy use of proof-of-work (POW) blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum impacted crypto artists in recent months due to Ethereum’s prominent role in the NFT ecosystem. Though common beliefs about the actual energy used in minting NFTs are often inaccurate, the crypto art community cares deeply about environmental issues and artists have been responding in a variety of ways. Ongoing responses include utilizing carbon offset services, supporting Ethereum’s move to proof-of-stake (POS) status, and increasing activity on POS blockchains.

Specific attacks on crypto artists began in December 2020 with the launch of CryptoArt.wtf, a site that gauged the energy used in minting NFTs based on the overall use of energy on the Ethereum blockchain. The problem is that Ethereum energy use does not work in such a direct manner, and the blockchain would use the same amount of energy to function even if NFT production stopped entirely.

Though this misperception was addressed to a limited degree by Web 3 developers, such as Sillytuna writing for NFTS WTF, it remains the dominant misunderstanding of both crypto artists, media, and the general public to this day. The resulting bitter attacks on crypto artists via social media led to the creators of CryptoArt.wtf shutting the site down because it had become a “tool for abuse and harassment.”

 

Since many crypto artists are concerned about the environment and did not need attacks to spur them into action, a variety of approaches to the perceived environmental effects of NFT production emerged and continue to be supported.

 

Carbon Offset

Carbon offset efforts, essentially tree planting by third parties, have been a popular choice of crypto artists choosing to remain on Ethereum. The concept of Ethereum energy calculations, though technically inaccurate, does provide a proxy for blockchain usage and is widely employed for energy offset purposes.

Offsetra is a popular carbon offset service. As crypto artist Angie Taylor enthusiastically explained on Twitter:

Another artist, AnonymousNobody used RootedFuture to plant a tree for each NFT Tree he sold in a crypto art project.

Beeple, perhaps the most well known crypto artist to date, organized a charity auction to benefit environmental organizations featuring donated NFTs by a group of high profile artists and additional donated carbon offsets. The Carbon Drop on Nifty Gateway was thus identified as a “Carbon Net-Negative Auction.” The proceeds totalled over $6.66 million including a $6 million winning bid for Beeple’s piece “Ocean Front” by Tron founder Justin Sun.

 

Green NFT Hackathon

Climate change and energy expenditure issues must ultimately be addressed at the source of energy use. Though Ethereum’s move to proof-of-stake will address many of its issues, interim solutions and educational efforts are still in order. One leading example of addressing such issues now is the Green NFT project.

Green NFTs launched on Gitcoin to provide an “Awareness Bounty” for educational resources and a “Solutions Bounty” to improve existing Ethereum-related solutions. Co-created in February by Jason Bailey, aka Artnome, and The Mint Fund, Green NFTs went on to raise funds and hold a hackathon. Grant recipients were announced earlier this month.

Artnome explained in an interview that the “overall goal” of the project is to “raise awareness and give the community a way to take part in owning and addressing the problem.” He feels it is a way to take the “fighting and finger-pointing going on around the ecological impact of NFTs” and “redirect that human energy into a more constructive direction.”

 

SIRSU, who created The Mint Fund to support artists new to NFTs, noted in a separate interview that it was important to move beyond carbon offsets as well as “political grandstanding,” and to find “solutions to avoid making new harm.” He emphasized that the “goal of Green NFT was to kickstart more solutions.” SIRSU also hopes this work can develop further and “evolve into a coalition…dedicated to the creation of public goods related to making our work greener as well as influencing public policy.”

 

Bridging to Ethereum

Many of the current solutions to the problem of Ethereum’s energy use involve moving minting and transactions off the Ethereum blockchain to a variety of sidechains and Layer 2 solutions with the option to later transfer NFTs to the Ethereum mainnet if desired. Related solutions are being built on other blockchains, such as NEAR, which recently received the Climate Neutral Product label.

To facilitate DeFi and NFT movement between NEAR and Ethereum, NEAR created the Rainbow Bridge. It is now the home base for two popular NFT platforms. Paras launched on NEAR in December 2020. This popular platform features NFT art card minting. Mintbase, a leading platform that began on Ethereum, relaunched on NEAR in late May.

 

Beyond Ethereum

Crypto artists are also exploring life beyond Ethereum. The Clean-NFTs Developer Community offers a handy spreadsheet of NFT platforms, identifying POS and POW chains, and adding energy-related notes. The list is a reminder that artists now have a variety of POS chains from which to choose. One crypto art crowd favorite is the Tezos chain whose NFT platforms include Hic et Nunc and Kalamint.

 

Hic et Nunc, in particular, has seen a powerful wave of crypto artist involvement. Claire L. Evans, writing for Rest of World, describes it as “Brazil’s DIY, eco-friendly NFT art marketplace.” She also characterizes it as a “scrappy, community-driven marketplace peopled with misfits, experimental creators, and established artists seeking a break from the big leagues.”

Judging by a variety of glowing recommendations on Twitter by such crypto artists as Tim Riopelle, Hic et Nunc has become a crowd favorite for its combination of an environmentally sustainable POS blockchain, low transaction fees and a strong community vibe. Jason Bailey, writing on his Artnome site, says he sees a “lot of the unbridled experimentation that was present in the early Rare Pepe Wallet days re-emerging in Hic et Nunc.”

 

Ongoing Efforts

These highlights from the responses of crypto artists to environmental concerns about NFT energy use reveal that artists continue to be actively involved in seeking solutions. From funding carbon offsets and technical solutions, to exploring currently available eco-friendly options, crypto artists are taking a creative array of paths forward. 

Despite the often inaccurate attacks on crypto artists and the continuing misrepresentation of NFT energy use by both mainstream and crypto media, many artists have chosen to address the actual issues in a positive manner. Though these actions are unlikely to satisfy all opponents of the existence of NFTs, they should certainly go a long way in establishing the legitimacy of NFTs and crypto art to thoughtful critics.

Featured Image Credit: NFT Tree by AnonymousNobody.eth 

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Along with the rise in the popularity of NFTs, it should come as no surprise that artists are seeking out new and exciting ways to exhibit their digital art.  While the concept of a “metaverse” first found its footing in the world of video games, catering to the millions of MMORPG gamers worldwide.  But in the past three or so years, a number of non-gaming exclusive metaverses have begun popping up.  

 

Decentraland, one of the leading examples, was founded back in 2017 – created with the intention of developing a replacement for websites for within VR experiences.  Due to the slow adoption of VR headsets and experiences, they decided to pivot their offering to an XR experience available via almost any browser.  While the experience is quite “gamified,” purposes for spending time in the Decentraland metaverse primarily include viewing or displaying NFT artwork, shopping for or creating Virtual Fashion / Wearables, and interacting with Decentralized Apps (dapps) and companies in real-time within an immersive 3D world. 

 

Well-known companies in the DeFi space have already invested significant amounts of money into developing virtual spaces within this metaverse.  If you tour around their welcome plaza or Museum District, you’ll recognize many familiar names ranging from Binance, SuperRare, and Makersplace.  Each of these organizations has fully fleshed out immersive experiences within the space, complete with links to exterior websites and robot characters with whom you can “speak” in order to explain various offerings.  Despite Decentraland being quite private about the number of users currently on the platform, according to the LinkedIn Profile of their ‘Head of Marketing and Growth’ Fede Molina, he has grown “the community from a few hundred to 1M+ members” within his three years at the organization. It should also be noted, then when I consulted this figure only a month-and-a-half ago in March, it was listed as 500k+. I’m not going to try to jump to any conclusions, but it’s fairly clear that this platform is growing exponentially. 

 

Digital Sculptures

 

So why is that? Decentraland is far from the only Metaverse option on the market, with competitors such as Crypto Voxels, Mozilla Hubs, Arium, and many others releasing new features daily.  However, one element, specifically for artists, that functions exceptionally well on Decentraland in particular, is the implementation of interactive or moving 3D sculptures.  While this feature is available in a number of other metaverses or virtual art exhibition spaces, in my humble opinion, Decentraland’s objectively look the best. 

 

Viewers can move around massive 3D sculptures in real-time. These sculptures can be as large as a house or small enough to fit on a table and have the options to levitate, rotate, move through the air, and be interactive. The scale of these virtual sculptures alone is worth ruminating upon. In reality, artisans working in the world of large-scale sculptures often pay tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to obtain the materials for their pieces alone. Then when one factors in the costs associated with moving, shipping, and/or installing a large stone or marble pieces – it begins to make the artform prohibitively expensive to newcomers. What emerging artist has a quarter of a  million dollars to spend on erecting and shipping out a 10-ton marble sculpture? And if you begin to consider the technical and mechanical requirements necessary to have a piece of this kind of scale levitate or rotate – it begins to become impossibly expensive and nearly logistically impossible. 

 

This is where exhibiting within a metaverse comes in. Within Decentraland, and many other similar metaverse spaces, users can create sculptures at a massive scale without having to consider their structural feasibility or physical cost. Even artists already creating sculptures out of Bronze, Marble, or through other means should be excited about the prospect of modelling their work virtually, exhibiting said work virtually, and the IF the piece is sold, they can create (sculpt) or 3D print their piece made specifically to order. This metaverse-centric system is not only far more cost-effective for artists, but also far more sustainable! Shipping massive sculptures around the world requires a massive amount of resources. Trucks, ships, planes, massive crews of movers, packaging, and so much more goes into the process. 

 

Digital Sculptures in the Metaverse

 

Shifting the display process of large-scale sculptures into the digital realm makes all of these wasteful processes redundant. Simply allowing onlookers, and interested buyers, to interact with large-scale pieces exclusively within the digital realm. While users can’t yet physically touch pieces within this context, one can come quite close. In most XR experiences, such as Decentraland, users can experience sculptures from extremely up close to far away in context. Furthermore, users have the option to interact with certain objects, jumping on top to follow along with the motion of an object, or completing an animation or task. Also, if users experience metaverses through a VR headset, the experience can be even more fully immersive. 

 

While viewing moving large-scale sculptures may not yet be seamless across all metaverses, one must remember how early we are in the grand scheme of this industry. Most companies are only in their first year of business and about 99% of the world’s population is still not yet invested in crypto. However, what does seem certain is that the concept of exhibiting digital artworks within a metaverse is still in its absolute infancy. And the fact that this space has already come so far and allows artists across mediums to achieve so much is beyond encouraging. I very much hope to see more growth within this space in the coming months and look forward to more traditional artists, especially sculptors, taking advantage of this fantastic new technological framework.

 

Sculpture in the Metaverse

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From today, June 14th, to the18th, 2021 there will be a celebration of the very building blocks of all digital art, the pixel. Specifically, an exhibition featuring eighteen of the foremost pixel artists in the NFT space, “specially chosen to demonstrate the variety, beauty, and mastery of the medium” as stated by the organizer and mastermind Genuine Human who is himself an Award-winning pixel artist, director and animator. Genuine Human has created music videos for GUNSHIP as well as art for acts such as The Midnight, Waveshaper, and many more.

I recently had the amazing experience of speaking with Genuine Human about his passion for pixel art and his motivations behind creating this event. Aside from being a super cool “Genuine Human,” all puns intended, I really enjoyed talking with him about his work, the NFT space, the community, and his reasons for creating Pixel Art Week. I also really enjoyed checking out his incredible pixel art which, I can now honestly say, makes him one of my personal favorite Pixel artists that I have come across. His fusion of pixel art mixed with his signature cyberpunk style just speaks to me.

Pixel Art Week

 

Pixel Art Week is set to bring artist showcases to Twitter, live chats and Q&As on Clubhouse, as well as Twitter Spaces and is bringing together the absolute best of pixel art to the SQUARED metaverse exhibition. The main pixel art week events will run from today, June 14th – up to the 18th, and more information can be found at www.pixelartnftweek.com as well as on Twitter at @pixelartnftweek.

During my conversation with Genuine human, we discussed his origin in the pixel art world. Starting off over 10 years ago, and being one of the least efficient ways to make art, one pixel at a time, he fell in love with this form and the variety contained within it. Pixel art has “a certain number of squares, [and] essentially, you fill in the squares.”  He poses the following question in his exploration of pixel art:

“How can you take such a controlled medium, and do such vastly different things with it? with so many different styles within that medium”  He went on to talk about his experience coming into the NFT space, and how it has been interesting for him: “with CryptoPunks at the heart of all this, where do pixel artists fit” in the world of NFTs? 

Noting that many of the artists do have specific project-based works, but that a large portion of pixel artists are just creating for the sake of exploration and creation.

eBoy Osaka
eBoy Osaka

 

In his years in pixel art he has found that “Not everyone gets it, and not everyone likes it, and that’s fine, but there are some people, when they connect with it, they LOVE IT and they get so passionate about it.”His face lit up as he made this statement.

After experiencing his work specifically, because of my fascination and obsession with cyberpunk and science fiction, I have seen a window into pixel art that makes me want to explore more.  I am excited to hear more about the artists that Genuine Human looks up to and is showcasing during this week-long celebration.

At the heart of what inspired  Pixel Art Week was this desire, that I unearthed in our conversation “I wonder if there is a way that I can show other people what I see in their pixel art?” which planted the idea behind this entire series of events. He goes on describing, “what if we did a week, to celebrate pixel art in the NFT space?” 

With so many incredible artists, being able to share and explore their work and the genre as a whole for an entire week sounds like a great way to introduce others to pixel art.

 

Instant Onion After the Rain
Instant Onion After the Rain

 

The featured pixel art week artists include: BAN-8KU, eBoy, Paul Robertson, Genuine Human, mae, KLDPXL, Kristy Glas, Crypto Princess, Dmitry Petyakin, Genghis Kwan, Gordon Zuchhold, Gutty Kreum, Instant Onion, Jamfactory aka Gavin Strange, Maxwell Step, Moertel / Stefanie Grunwald, numo and steamboy33 // Arnold Tsang   

This whole week will allow people a peek into the pixel art process, the humans behind the work, and why they create pixel art. Many times people may recognize the art but know very little about the person who created it. I am personally looking forward to learning about these incredible people that Genuine Human has brought together because of the energy and passion I sense behind this week-long celebration, and because taking a peak at some of this incredible work, you can’t help but want to learn more. 

There will be many ways to engage during Pixel art week but below you will find the dates and times for the main chats:

 

14th MONDAY Space Chat – 7PM UK. 2PM EST. 9AM PT – moderated by Signalnoise

Genuine Human Art

eBoy

Khaled

Instant Onion

 

15th TUESDAY GALLERY OPENING – 8PM, 3PM EST, 10AM PT

Genuine Human Art plus artists in attendance.

 

16th WEDNESDAY 7PM UK, 2PM EST, 11AM PT – Whale Community – Moderator: DeCryptolorean

eBoy

Khaled

Maxwell Step

Genuine Human Art  

 

17th THURSDAY TEXT CHAT –  7PM UK, 2PM EST, 11AM PT (WHALE Discord)

Dmitry Petyakin

Kristy Glas

Mae

Steamboy

BAN-8KU

 

18th FRIDAY Spaces Chat 9PM UK time 4PM EST 1PM PT – Moderator: G

Jamfactory

Numo

Gordon Zuchhold

Maxwell Step

Genuine Human Art

 

Be sure to follow Pixel Art Week on Twitter to stay up to date with everything going on as well as visit the official website for more details. 

I look forward to seeing this incredible celebration take place across the entire week and bring more attention to the people behind all of this work. I want to thank Genuine Human for creating this series of events and for the time he spent with me connecting about this incredible genre, that is at the very root of all digital visual art.

It all starts with a single pixel.

 

BAN8KU Player in Tokyo
BAN8KU Player in Tokyo

 

Maxwell Step What You Looking At
Maxwell Step What You Looking At

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