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NFT art auction platform focuses on recreating physical paintings on tokens


18 Jun 2021

#Ethereum

Moving beyond digital art, an artist-focused DeFi auction site plans to put 3D reproductions of physical paintings on NFTs backed by and sold with the artwork itself. NFT art may be the current Next Big Thing in the cryptocurrency world, but as art, it’s actually somewhat limited to one broad genre: Digital art. 

This leaves out a fairly large chunk of the art world — paintings, drawings, sculpture, fabrics, pottery — the physical arts that live in three dimensions. That’s where AvatarArt by ByteNext comes in. The Singapore-based NFT artwork company is turning the biggest of those physical arts — painting — into 3D reproductions that are backed by the actual artwork.

For each NFT, there isn’t just the blockchain-verified original image. There’s an actual painting in an actual facility — generally stored in a museum partner near the artist — that verifies the 3D NFT’s originality. That physical work can be taken into custody by auction winners.

“The most important thing for us at AvatarArt is that element — having to create and deposit the physical artwork is key to having an exclusivity where the physical art, that's only one-of-a-kind and so the NFT also is one-of-a-kind,” Vernon Loh Zhee Yin, CEO of AvatarArt, explained in a live ask-me-anything session on Cointelegraph’s YouTube channel.

Taking custody of the art and having it and the artist’s identity verified for authenticity and provenance by experts is by far the biggest challenge, and means building an international network, Yin explained, adding that local museums are the obvious source for expertise in both art and its proper storage. Those experts can also help value an artwork. To actually get custody of the physical art will be up to the new owners, he said, noting that shipping it brings chain-of-custody issues, as well as requiring expert handling.

Focus on the artists

“Most of the NFT platforms nowadays, they actually focus on digital art, but we want to bring in something of more physical value, of a more real-world value into it. Therefore, we are targeting only the painting bucket for now,” Yin said. And with no disrespect to the value of digital artworks as art, he added: “We think that replication of digital work is a lot easier than a physical work. Therefore, we choose the physical route.” Another big driver of AvatarArt’s focus on painting is to support the art form, Yin said. “My personal view is that the painting market is getting less and less attention,” he said. “Everything is all digitized already. But then, when you see the art form of traditional painting — or any other physical art form — it is still quite powerful. It's still quite amazing. And we want to still keep that relevant. We want to keep that alive. And therefore, our main objective is that ecosystem of art lovers, painting lovers.” Despite that, Yin said those art lovers are not AvatarArt’s target audience. The target is the artists themselves. NFTs are a great way to showcase art and to help the artists expand their followers, he added. “Having a robust selection of art on our platform makes this platform itself more attractive to art lovers,” he said. “Where the artists go, interest follows.”

Going DeFi

Once the artwork is in custody, verified, and turned into a high-quality 3D image on an NFT, it must be sold, of course. That’s why AvatarArt is building 3D virtual reality showcases where the artwork can reside, be auctioned, and, if the owner desires, be held on display after it is auctioned. The platform — scheduled to launch in the third quarter of 2021 – will reside on the Binance Smart Chain blockchain, Yin said, adding that it was chosen over Ethereum for several reasons, mainly its far lower gas fees.

The NFT exchange is scheduled to launch in June on BSC Station, a decentralized finance (DeFi) auction house for NFTs being built on the Binance Smart Chain. AvatarArt is planning an initial DEX offering (IDO) on BSC Station’s launchpad for decentralized exchange (DEX) token sales in June.

AvatarArt will be powered by its native Buy Next token (BNU), which will be used to pay for most transactions within the ecosystem. That means joining the auction house, advertising artworks for sale, bidding at auction, paying transaction fees, renting 3D display space, and of course participating in the liquidity pools and yield farming. Some 15% of the 200 million BNU tokens are reserved for liquidity.

BNU will also allow holders to vote on NFT evaluation and governance issues. Eventually, AvatarArt is planning live events where BNU will be used as well. The NFT exchange is scheduled to launch in the second quarter and staking will go live in the third. The AvatarArt DApp should launch before the end of the year.


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