This interview with Miki Elson deals with the recent opening of his DAO-led, NFT gallery, ArtSect. Located in the historic Hackney Tram Depot, ArtSect Gallery London is a DAO-led, NFT dedicated exhibition space with the mission to promote and facilitate new creative processes using contemporary technologies.
What does ArtSect represent? What do people need to know about it?
ArtSect Gallery was founded with a collaborative approach to promote culture and dialogue between communities, underrepresented and marginalised crypto and physical artists. It is more of a creative think-tank that pushes back against cultural Elitism. Our ethos involves community building, gallery takeovers, worker cooperatives by community groups, creative collectives and solo artists.
We want to shed light on organic community representation’ ArtSect represents an
algorithmic collaborative opportunity; to do more at its most simple.
We’ve got technology, some cool people, a nice space. In essence it could be those simple parts but the way we want to bring people together and curate their art and inspire them to push communal work as far as we can will organically create the humanistic ethos we want to represent.
What’s the added value of phygitality? Does one influence the other, or do they mirror each other?
It’s essentially an opportunity for experimentation. We’ve got a lot of tools from the metaverse (the virtual realm) and the blockchain, for people to push themselves and their ideas. The importance is the overlay of the physical and digital realm. We want to do morethan technology as a constant flow of ideas and crystalise it through a symbiotic approach to the phygital. Blockchain.com is a cryptocurrency blockchain explorer service, as well as a cryptocurrency wallet and a cryptocurrency exchange supporting Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ethereum. The blockchain technology offers more freedom and transparency by means of decentralising structure. It’s for us to guide the artist to be confident and free enough to explore in that realm.
Also, the digital doesn’t reduce itself to an online art shop; it’s not a blunt economic play but more of a democratisation and education of the blockchain system through art, also for artists.
How does ArtSect differentiate from the traditional gallery/museum ethos/innerworkings/logistics?
I believe in people. If I’m honest, I’d say some of these institutions manufacture and coerce more than they inspire and help, and as a team we’d have to bring everyone to whom that ethos resonates forward to humanise the art sector and market. We believe in trust in the structure and within our team, which firms wouldn’t allow; the freedom to bring whoever’s ethos and work ethic correlates with ours is our philosophy. Everyone’s invested and cares and has autonomy.
How is your project influenced by the digital immense expansion?
I believe we’re going through a transition, a liminal period, where it will take time for NFTs to be normalised and democratised in the general consciousness. I also believe it will transform the industry. Institutions will have to follow the movement to follow NFTs incentives to make artists more autonomous. Sotheby’s is launching an NFT gallery for instance. I originally wanted to create an ArtBox company, a sort of incubator. The expansion of digital art created this reaction and mended the nexus of the phygital.
How do you describe the correlation between cryptocurrency (NFT) and cultural sectors?
As I said, I believe we’re going through a liminal period. We want to frame NFT art selling and buying as this novelty, based on the paradigm of centralised organisations, with a humanistic approach to it. Similar to art collectors believing in a particular artist but NFTed. The transparency of our structures and our equitable approach to NFT shows, how we want to elevate NFT art as a commodity.
How do you imagine this DAO [Decentralised Autonomous Organisation] as an alternative system, will influence the art sector?
I believe this could cause damage to the abuses of capitalism and changing it for the best. It’s more democratic and sociological: because of its economic transparency it would prevent big firms from having such unethical allocation of funds. Fast fashion for instance, where CEOs make exuberant amounts of money and the workforce gains close to nothing; transparency will allow people to know exactly how much is made and where funds go; which is revolutionary when you think about it but also requires a strong moral compass.
What do you think about the influence of this NFT expansion on the environment?
Decentralised and NFT galleries have a transparent and calculated carbon
footprint, unlike centralised institutions. For example, the impact of the Tate on the environment will forever be opaque and unknown. That’s exactly why we should resolve the issue, simply because we have to undertake it and take responsibility. We are in touch with a carbon offsetting company that cancels out your footprint and makes us environmentally neutral. We’re also a part of an artist-led effort called ArtNome to raise money to reward people who can figure out new ways to make crypto art more sustainable. Anyone who wants to support those artists by buying their work can migrate along with them to less polluting platforms. The problem of sustainability is solvable, as it is recognised as such.
Interviewer: Amiel Maucade
Images: Ben Dawson ‘Arbitrary Names Can't Define Such Taste’ (2021). Courtesy of the artist and ArtSect.