Centralized power has always dictated who was permitted to develop their talents, allowing their creativity to flourish and go down in history. High Renaissance art visionary Michelangelo’s (1475 – 1564) relationship with the Medici family and the Roman Catholic Church propelled his career. How many other Michelangelo’s, however, went undiscovered during the Italian Renaissance?
Recent decades have ushered in revolutionary decentralization due to the rapid development of digital technology. The shift of software from isolated desktops to online during the 1990s was a significant change in how software and infrastructure were written, leading to innovative business models. The eventual outcome was the dot.com boom, the development of social media, Google, online shopping and the beginning of one of the more sinister aspects of modern centralized power, Surveillance Capitalism. We are living in the digital age – a era of massive disruption in technology infrastructure that is impacting almost every industry and many aspects of our lives.
The first decentralized digital currency, the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, was created in 2009. The paper: Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System defined the weaknesses of fiat currencies and why an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust was needed. This forever changed the concept of traditional banking while pointing to the future of financial exchange. Two years later, the wave of rival cryptocurrencies appeared. Post-2014, hundreds of what are referred to as Altcoins have been released, and crypto-terminology is mainstream.
The 21st-century global creative economy is defined by its high level of interconnectivity. The internet has played a pivotal role in the convergence of the digital and physical worlds, bringing together individuals, communities and resources to a common meeting point. The physical meeting space/festival sphere, too has evolved side-by-side with the digital. ‘Burning Man’ (BM), an annual community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance event in the US, guided by important principles, is recognized as the gathering place for some of the most creative, future-orientated alternative thinkers on the planet. Beginning in 1991, by 2019 BM had attracted over 60,000 people, evolving into a destination for social media influencers, celebrities and the tech visionaries of Silicon Valley, and beyond.
March 2021 has revealed extraordinary historical events. The new Crypto Art, NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) phenomenon gives us a powerful insight into the potential of the digital mindset during a revolutionary period of global change, decentralization and economic reset. NFTs are a new digital asset class that is rapidly diversifying, yet speaks to a new generation of investors who are uninterested in conventional markets. Crypto Art draws together people from diverse spheres of creativity, including people interested in art, gaming, AR, VR and the metaverse, into communities, leading to new social and cultural exchanges. Platforms allowing opportunities for cross-pollination of ideas are level playing fields, the foundations of new modes of creative thinking and new possibilities. The destination is the new frontiers of human thought and spaces that will be the epicentres for creatives to manifest the infrastructure upon which future communities will thrive.
The crypto art space is changing how people perceive the crypto currency phenomenon and is a type of missing link to help people understand the importance of decentralization. Creatives have adopted the new digital asset class to express and capitalize themselves. A flourishing array of collectables are now categorized by NFTs including tweets, articles, swap cards and video games. In the future everyone will own a digital wallet. The NFT phenomenon signals the power of the avant-garde using decentralized peer-to-peer technology to bypass the gatekeepers of the old world infrastructures. The historic sale by auction house Christies of a digital artwork by NFT artist Beeple, for $US69.4 million, 11 March 2021, catapulted him to the top three most valuable living artists in any medium. In doing so he bypassed the conventional art worlds gate keepers.
NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden sold his first NFT, ‘Stay Free, ’ for $5.44 million on 17 April 2021. The proceeds of the auction are going to the Freedom of the Press Foundation that’s support free speech and freedom of the press which has been dramatically eroded by centralized power. As the awareness to NFT space booms, so is the giving back attitude by developers and buyers wishing to support artists and creativity.
During this unique era of transformation, the marginalized continually need their voices amplified. The crypto world makes it possible for outsiders and anti-establishment groups to be empowered by greater leverage, influence and wealth. An increasing amount of the activity within the tech communities is pioneering the new paradigm of autonomous structures within the unique ecosystem of human existence – the alternative to corporate government centralized control.
The pandemic has triggered the digital renaissance and humanity is venturing into the ‘Golden Age of the Creatives’. A heightened level of creativity and self-empowerment is now in the hands of the people and the barriers to this new frontier of evolution are rapidly being eroded. Innovation will impact all aspects of our lives via P2P decentralized digital technology, enabling a quantum leap into the future. The critical element to fully empower this disruption of the old-world paradigm is the shift in mindset. Much of the behaviour driving the crypto markets (NFTs & currencies), which like the technologies is still in their infancy, may be linked to the scarcity mindset and short-term profit-making. These spheres and circumstances will evolve and become sustainable when the masses change their thinking to the abundance principles determined by universal laws.
What the future looks like is a new narrative yet to be fully imagined. An exciting inclusive future with a collective vision of prosperity is achievable. When humanity moves away from a scarcity mindset – with its limited assessment of human and natural potential (which promotes the worst of human traits: greed, intolerance, fear, jealousy competition, insecurity) and perceive the world as it is within an infinite source of plenty allows for increased trust in the collective. This perception and the correlated actions will open humanity to our full potential to love, share, create and collaborate.
Words: Richard Horstman