In addition to the speculative side, NFTs, these blockchain-based digital certificates present many opportunities for the cultural world. This is the opinion of Godefroy Jordan, chairman of StartingDot and entrepreneur in the digital sector for 25 years. With its Twineva service is entrecovery supports cultural institutions, foundations, museums and artists to meet the challenges of political, legal, financial and marketing sovereignty related to NFTs. In the interview with TOM.travel, he explains how NFTs will shake up the codes of the cultural world.
What is an NFT in the cultural environment?
An NFT is a digital certificate written on a blockchain that identifies and points to a digital file. The principle is to make a digital copy of a work – or a 3D model in the case of a sculpture for example – issued by the work’s copyright holder. There are millions of pictures of the Mona Lisa today on the internet and on smartphones of people who photographed it. These files have no value. On the other hand, if the Louvre Museum decides to create one or more NFTs of the Mona Lisa, this or these will have value. An NFT can e.g. contain an image file and a PDF document with the signed certificate of authenticity. It may also contain a scientific article by a curator describing the work.
A museum can choose to create a single digital copy in high resolution or to create 10,000 in smaller definition. He may decide to create a digital twin in another form, such as a hologram for example, or even to create a new work from the original. This is what the Italian artist duo Hackatao especially did by animating the Bear’s head designed by Leonardo da Vinci. We can also imagine an augmented reality layer on a work. And why not create an NFT that would act as an action to in a deposited work at a museum or gallery.
What interest does NFT have in cultural institutions?
All the masterpieces have already been digitized. I think the topic for NFT is to go into a new phase and add additional information to the work. To me, NFTs and the meta-verse are creating the same revolution as the Internet. You now need to think about integrating it into your strategy.
I see several interests. By setting up and selling NFTs, an institution can solve certain funding problems. It may decide to sell digital twins for private use or to grant the rights temporarily. The institution could rent the use of a work to, for example, the meta-verse and thus set its feet in these virtual universes. I think it’s also a way to reach new, younger audiences who do not consume culture. It is possible to build a bridge between the digital and its collections to rejuvenate the works. Another interest is to market rights more easily. We exchange with a museum that preserves industrial objects and markets their designs in the fashion sector. An NFT could make it possible to sell this pattern in high definition for third-party recycling. Finally, there is a question of sovereignty because the platforms that allow the creation of NFTs are mainly American and Chinese.
So your goal is to create a French platform for cultural institutions?
Absolutely, the challenge is to distribute the NFTs for heirlooms on sites approved by the Financial Markets Authority (AMF). Today, there is no 100% French exchange platform. The most important are the American OpenSea, the platform specializing in “generative” digital art Art Blocks and the British Foundation. However, museums want to know who they are selling NFTs to. That is why we want to provide a layer of authentication. We also want to provide the ability to create NFTs from proprietary smart contracts tailored to the requirements of museums and galleries. Let me explain. Today, the NFTs created on the platforms must be included in an imposed format of Smart contracts. For example, some NFTs can only be purchased in Ether on the Ethereum blockchain. We therefore first create the NFT, which can then be saved on the blockchain of the museum’s choice. The smart contract that manages the NFT can e.g. determine the time of possession of a work and the resale rights in the secondary market. A museum may decide that the buyer may not resell its NFT for at least one year. Another important point that we are developing is the possibility of being paid in euros, and not in cryptocurrencies. For this, we want to instantly convert cryptocurrency into a stablecoin that copies the value of a currency, such as the euro or the dollar. This allows institutions to avoid the problem of cryptocurrency volatility. We estimate that there are 30 tasks to be performed between creating an NFT and reselling it. We support our customers throughout this journey.
Does not the fact that transforming a work present problems with integrity?
I believe that there will be two types of NFT, the simple digital copy and the work enhanced by an artistic layer. A layer of contemporary art can also be added to a work. This can actually cause problems with acceptability, some might think it changes the original work. The most important thing is to keep the meaning of the work. In all cases, permission from the holder will be crucial. It is not so contrary to what may have happened in art history before. Marcel Duchamp added a mustache to the Mona Lisa in 1919. It is not because we are talking about digital that it should be less acceptable.