Photography in the Metaverse

Inside the DAO: ART3 gets inside Jenny Metaverse DAO and debates emerging platforms of NFT photography

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'Inside the DAO' is a new column on ART3 as part of our educational series to help people understand, embrace and navigate the world of NFTs and blockchain. Check out the growing collection of stories here.

ART3 joins fellow photography NFT platforms on Jenny DAO’s roundtable to discuss how emerging photographers can join the metaverse

DAO, for those still learning the lingo, is an abbreviation for ‘decentralised autonomous organisation’ – a community-led entity with no central authority. Fully autonomous and transparent, smart contracts are used to lay the foundational rules and execute decisions, all of which is recorded on the blockchain.

Each day, more and more photographers – some of them amongst the most established names in the industry – are minting their collection and making their works available to own as NFTs. 

The metaverse has been making headlines, and dominating mainstream conversations, for more than a year now. But photography, the most digitally native and shareable of mediums, was actually fairly slow to move into this exciting but at-times confusing new marketplace. 

That is now changing, very quickly, and some major photography institutions are moving into the metaverse. 

For photography collectors interested in exploring the NFT space, and developing a collection of photographs on the blockchain, a new suite of photography-specific platforms are emerging that make the process of entering the NFT market easy, secure and accessible for anyone.

Those platforms, which include ART3.io, are working closely with Jenny DAO, a metaverse pioneer designed to allow investors to participate in the NFT market, often for the first time.

Significantly, Jenny DAO is the first metaverse organisation to be welcomed onto the NFT gallery and trading platform Unicly.

Unicly, for those still learning the ropes, is a new protocol that has gained a huge amount of headlines on blockchain websites. Jenny DAO, therefore, allows its users to freely tokenise and trade assets as NFTs in a totally transparent and community-governed forum. That means that Jenny represents one of the first major projects to bring a DAO and NFT trading platform into one ecosystem.

A recent Jenny DAO roundtable discussion centered on how platforms like ART3, Assembly and Fellowship can introduce contemporary photography to NFT communities; how to curate a drop, how to reach new trading circles, how to meaningfully engage with the context behind images in digital forums that have not traditionally collected photography. 

“We’re building a new way to operate,” founder Marc Hartog says of ART3, the platform he has created to help photographic artists trade in the NFT space.

Hartog outlined his vision for the future of contemporary photography during a roundtable discussion with fellow NFT and Web3 platform founders.

“I’ve spent the last 12 years building platforms to help emerging photographers, and for me the NFT space is absolutely the most exciting development in the photographic space in a generation or more”

The roundtable invited platforms from across Europe and the US that, together, are shaping the landscape of fine art photography in the NFT space.

ART3 were at the table with Mexican artist Fernando Gallegos, founder of Fellowship and curator and editor Ashlyn Davis Burns, founder of Assembly. They were joined by Sleezy, an early adopter and pioneer in the potentials of NFT art, and a curator for Jenny DAO.

Each platform invited to the roundtable works closely with both emerging and established photographic artists. Together, the varied platforms represent artists whose work is either creating untold amounts of buzz, are already included in international museum collections, or who are known for pushing the boundaries of the photographic medium and whose work critically engages with significant cultural zeitgeists.

The platforms are also engaged in the exploratory process of working out how the NFT space can be both a vibrant emerging commercial market for photographic artists – and a place where they can innovate their practice, both conceptually and technologically.

The roundtable also focused on how the history of the photographic medium has always debated issues around production, reproduction, circulation and technology – making the NFT space the obvious next chapter for the future of the medium, despite the skepticism of some more established voices in the traditional photographic industry.

“We’ve all seen the NFT space grow and evolve so rapidly, but I think it has done so in a way that very much mirrors the history of photography” says Ashlyn David Burns, Co-founder of Assembly, a US based studio, gallery and NFT platform.

“Assembly is deeply rooted in photography and in the history of photography, but it is by its very nature a technological medium that is by its very nature is constantly evolving. So to limit photography into just one mode is to deny what photographer at its very core actually is.”

It is worth noting that photography is nearly two hundred years old; in 1826, French scientist Joseph Nicéphore Niépce took what is considered the earliest known photograph.

By the end of the Twentieth century, photography had established itself as the most global and influential of all mediums. And that’s before we take into account the moment to moment photographic connectivity brought on by social media.

But it took almost 150 years for the established art world to even pay attention to photographs; auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s only began to auction collectible photographs in the 1970s. Cultural institutions were even slower to catch on. In the UK, the first major solo photography show to take place at a major museum was not until 2002, at London’s Tate Modern.

Photography, then, has moved from the margins of the art world to its vital center because of its ability to adapt to new technological eras; from cheap and manufactured point and shoot cameras to digital images to Instagram.

Each time it has done so, old voices have tried to suppress it. Are NFTs the latest chapter? Hartog thinks so.

“Artists are able to connect directly with collectors, often for the first time, and it also allows them to benefit from the future upside of their work in perpetuity. Collectors are able to take comfort in the provenance and provable scarcity of their investment. It really is game changing technology”

The fact that Jenny DAO is so keen to work with ART3.io, and is partnering with and collecting ART3’s genesis drop, James and Other Apes (#JAPES), is significant.

The short history of NFT trade has at times been beset by elitist and transparency issues: the best NFTs have, so far, only been accessible to the small number of people who know how to purchase them before the news gets out, so those who how and where to access the best niche drops. Those on the inside track are often referred to as ‘whales’, as the lingo goes; an individual that holds large amounts of crypto-related assets and influence.

Jenny DAO changes that. Its community-orientated business model guarantees a radical level of transparency and also allows for a form of shared ownership model for the most unique and expensive NFTs. 

Photographs by Alec Soth, Driftershoots and Alejandro Cartagena are already part of the NFT collection on Jenny DAO, and now they are working closely with Hartog to make ART3.io collectibles available to Jenny DAO’s burgeoning audience.

“Our focus will remain on helping early career photographic artists to find a footing in the industry,” Hartog says of ART3’s mission. “That means curating open calls, finding and championing the next talent, and introducing them to the NFT space. To be able to provide emerging photographers with the tools to meaningfully navigate this incredible new landscape is such an exciting proposition.”

Watch the series of Jenny DAO roundtables exploring different aspects of the NFT space below.

Subscribe to the Jenny DAO youtube channel or follow @JennyMetaverse on twitter to keep up to date with their news and additions to the collection.