Is Software Eating the ArtWorld? On Crypto Art and the End of the Academy

Can the historic, unregulated and shadowy art market really be tamed by a bunch of dark web crypto geeks? Let’s hope so.

Is Software Eating the ArtWorld? On Crypto Art and the End of the Academy

Any high-level conversation on art and emerging technology is going to get complicated. It’s not easy to discuss art history, concepts of beauty and the meaning of value at the same time as smart contracts, decentralisation and digital ownership.

During a Future Blockchain Advance team conversation we invited a unique team to try and engage with some of these questions. VESA is an internationally recognized name in the “crypto art” and NFT space. Dr. Marwan Al Zarouni is CEO at the Dubai Blockchain Center and a Managing Partner at Accelliance.

Noor Kadhim is an art lawyer for Armstrong Teeside in London, with a background in the international and Levantine art markets.


In truth, no one really knows how Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT’s) will impact the art world. During this discussion, both Kadhim and VESA point to some strategic and financial inconsistencies in the technology. At the same time, VESA points to an art academy which is hyper-elitist, ideologically retrograde, and lost.


Like the art which adorned the public spaces of Renaissance Europe, he believes that NFT and crypto art could be part of a far greater shift towards the mega-communities of cyberspace celebrating - and owning - a new era of counter-cultural art. Beauty, meaning, spirituality and philosophy might just be back on the agenda. Art for the people, not for Wall Street… It's very crypto.

Yet, there is also a deeper technical discussion to be had. Al Zarouni implies that in many ways the more cerebral discussions are late to the party. The technology is already here. People are already investing Bitcoin in the rights to a blockchain registered art piece. But is this revolution for the technocrats, rather than the people? And can the historic, unregulated and shadowy art market really be tamed by a bunch of dark web crypto geeks? Let’s hope so.

Republished here with permission of Dubai World Trade Center under a Creative Commons Attribution License.