The NFT market is undergoing a painful downturn right now — but many in the space regard this as an opportunity to build.
CSLIM, a South Korean artist, joins us for a discussion about how he got involved in this fast-moving space. He reveals why the rarity levels of NFTs may need a rethink, how crypto collectibles can help good causes, and compelling use cases for the future.
1. Hello! Tell us about CSLIM STUDIO — what's your story… and your main goal?
I am an artist with an engineering background — and I've worked on AI, autonomous driving and blockchain in the past.
About three years ago, I started to feel a big attraction to the generative art genre, and established CSLIM STUDIO to pursue my passion.
I became aware of NFTs as a concept in March 2020 — and before then, I used to experiment with reconstructing paintings through AI. It wasn't for sale, it was simply technical curiosity.
If you look at the history of art, there has been a process in which the development of technology creates new tools, and the art is enriched by using them. Just look at tube paints, cameras and computers as an example.
In recent years, AI and blockchain have developed rapidly — and the potential of this technology from an artistic perspective is being explored.
I didn't have serious creative goals at first — I just wanted to test the limits of what I could do. It was purely for my own fun and satisfaction. But in the explosively growing NFT market, I've achieved much more than I envisaged.
In May 2022, with the support of Tezos APAC, I was honored after being invited to exhibit two works at Art Basel HK. NFTs have changed the course of my life, and I think they will continue to do so in the future.
Snowy Day at Art Basel HK, May 2022
2. What's The World collection?
The World is a collection that was dropped in February 2022 through Crypto.com NFT. Owners of this collection can get free airdrops every month for my new AI/generative art creations.
These NFTs are acting like a kind of ticket or subscription. Snapshots for collection holders are created on the 20th of every month for airdrops, and new works are distributed.
I established the utility ecosystem around The World collection to keep my creative activities stable — and collectors can receive new works every month for as long as I work as an NFT artist.
I've had thousands of strong supporters who enjoy my work and promote it through various channels.
This ecosystem is a very unconventional structure for both collectors and artists, but something everyone can enjoy and benefit from. I, as an artist, can keep creating new works while reducing market fluctuations — and I'm free to experiment while receiving important feedback.
My supporters are a 1,200-strong army who delight in my achievements and are always on my side. It's always a pleasure to share my new creations with them.
Before I dropped The World collection, I used to create a small number of works and interact with only a small number of collectors on Ethereum NFT platforms such as Makersplace, AsyncArt, and Foundation.
Most of my works were single editions. There weren't many collectors I could interact with, and I couldn't spread my art more widely. But I was proud of my creations, and so I wanted to reach more people.
If I think about it from a different point of view, I think I was envious of the way fandoms form for a particular artist. I thought that, if I had many collectors who would support me, it would give me a boost creatively — and that's why I came up with the concept of a subscription.
3. And what about nonfungible trees?
I'm not an environmentalist, but I'm very interested in environmental issues.
As an artist creating NFTs, I've been thinking about how crypto collectibles can be designed to play a more active role in addressing environmental issues.
Last winter, I got in touch with the BLOCKv team and we started talking about some really interesting concepts.
The idea was to create a system in which NFT purchases were linked to actual tree planting. This was very attractive because it could trigger an active movement to combat global warming and climate change.
And while Proof-of-Work blockchains are seen negatively because of the resources they consume, this project had a positive meaning. It shows that, depending on the application, they can have a beneficial effect on our climate.
Nonfungible Tree #1125
We launched our nonfungible trees project this May.
Eleven trees are planted every time an NFTree (nonfungible tree) is sold in the primary market — and 1% of sales revenue is reused for tree planting when an NFT is resold.
When a collector buys or resells NFTs, a portion of the sales amount is settled by the smart NFT logic of BLOCKv in the backend and the amount is donated to One Tree Planted.
The collection consists of 11,111 NFTrees, which will be minted on three different blockchains: Polygon, Huobi Eco, and BLOCKv.
Minted editions from one chain can be quickly and safely migrated to another chain through the bridge provided by BLOCKv.
It's the world's first truly multi-blockchain collection. In addition, these NFTs give the opportunity to permanently plant as many digital trees as they have contributed to planting on the metaverse space provided by BLOCKv. This means that community members create installation art through direct participation in a global-scale metaverse space. Isn't that cool?
4. You have an interesting opinion about the utility of NFTs. Tell us more!
The World collection showed how NFTs can be used for subscriptions — using blockchain snapshots and airdrops. Given the many possibilities that digital art can offer from a technical standpoint, this could be a huge step forward.
I do not think that NFTs as a proof of ownership — that contain only content in fragments — correspond to the values pursued by the times. This is not meant to deny or disparage the value of NFTs created by many artists. I have also been minting thousands of NFTs since 2020, and most of the NFTs I made also exist in the form of proof of ownership of contents. These NFTs are also worth valuing because they safely and nicely solve the problems related to copyright and ownership that traditional digital art had to solve in a provable way.
I believe that art using new technology as a vessel should evolve into more creative forms, genres and more multidimensional forms. We already have the technical/conceptual base to build better NFTs. We all need to continuously think about how to move forward one step further.
5. Have you already tried this concept in practice?
Using the technology stack provided by BLOCKv, 50 Polygon NFTs were dropped near the landmarks of 30 major cities around the world — and a treasure hunt was held last year. Users could find them based on their current location using AR and VR.
They could then be traded through OpenSea — and it was a fun experiment with a mix of virtual and real worlds. This could be an exciting part of the future for NFTs.
6. Any other interesting/unexpected use cases for NFTs?
I believe that NFTs have the potential to change the world. I would like to continue designing projects that can have a positive impact on environmental issues, such NFTrees. I am particularly interested in marine pollution and microplastics issues, so I have been designing an NFT project for several weeks on these themes.
What if the rarity of NFT is not determined according to the characteristics of the image? How about making the NFT more valuable if it has made a bigger contribution to the environment?
NFTrees are designed so their rarity level increases as their contribution to tree planting increases — meaning there's room for dynamic change. Although a bit complicated, it shows the notion of rarity in NFTs can be relative, not absolute.
7. What do you think about the NFT industry today? Is the market collapsing like a recent Wall Street Journal article suggested?
It is true that NFT sales have deteriorated considerably across primary and secondary markets. I think sustainability and stability aspects must also be considered when we evaluate projects.
If you understand inherent value, a collection's social purpose and the community's values, you can predict how a project will grow.
I think projects that do not deeply consider the stability of the secondary market after the initial sale have no choice but to react sensitively to changes in the market.
Since there are cycles in all markets, the NFT market will also become more mature after going through a crisis, and the method of selecting gemstones is also expected to be refined and systematic. We are learning to be prudent.
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