The H=N platform: Not all NFT platforms are for newly-rich crypto investors to flaunt their wealth, as one project is proving.
As the calls from artists and activists grow louder to reduce the carbon footprint of NFTs, one indie platform on environmentally-friendly proof-of-stake blockchain Tezos has seen a surge in activity and is currently hosting a World Art Day event to raise money for the open-source licensing organization Creative Commons.
Hic et Nunc, or H=N, announced the event via a short press release from TQ Tezos, a Tezos ecosystem development foundation not formally associated with H=N. Centered on a theme of “#NFTsforall,” the fundraiser features work from “200+ artists from 40+ countries”, according to artist and collector jkwong. Each artist will create a 25-50 edition piece, with all of the piece priced at one $XTZ. Art will be on sale starting today, and running until 4/30. jkwong added that Creative Commons was a natural choice as a beneficiary:
“Many of us in the HEN community use the Creative Commons. They’re a non-profit that uses technology to protect and respect the rights of creators, precisely what we believe blockchain and NFTs have the power to really do. There have been ideas about how NFTs can be used for public good and we thought, why not be the first to test that as a new model while also supporting organizations that champion the rights of creators?
The H=N platform is an unusual one. The website is notably sparse on the usual self-promotional explainers, but one resource that shines some light on the platform is artist M Plummer-Fernández’s essay explaining H=N and the broader opportunities NFT tech can offer artists, titled “Not another JPEG.”
In the essay, he describes the surreal experience of seeing dozens of his pieces sell on the platform — earning him more than his monthly teaching salary — and seeing a “global community” of artists convene and support one another. It’s a platform, he argues, that combines the cost-effective utility working artists need and the eco-friendly characteristics they care about:
“For creatives on a budget, and not wanting their experimental works to be a financial risk, a low-cost-to-participate NFT marketplace is very appealing. It’s unsurprising then that H=N comes not from the art establishment nor crypto-millionaires, but from a cryptopunk technologist in Brazil named Rafael Lima, and an emerging Brazilian CriptoArte scene.”
However, in addition to not founding H=N, crypto-millionaires may not be migrating to the platform anytime soon. The app might be charitably described as “user ambivalent,” featuring little more than a seemingly endless scroll of images and offering the barest UI/UX guidance (“ah, so cryptic” jokes Plummer-Fernández in his essay). Independent browsing tools offer an alternative experience, if not one any kinder on the eyes.
While these features (or lack of them) stand in relief against the many slick, Ethereum-based marketplaces catering to crypto’s elite, H=N can claim self-evident success in attracting a far more diverse range of artists and buyers. Plummer-Fernández points to an initiative started by artists Amelie Maia and Tais Koshino, “DiverseNFTArt,” that aims to “support and amplify the voices of Women, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists,” as well as the new income streams cost-effective listing and exchanging of work offers artists in the global South.
According to TQ Tezos communications director Reid Yager, so far the platform has generated 640,556 XTZ in sales and fees, representing a market value of $5 million. It’s also attracted support from Pak, the enigmatic and hugely popular NFT artist, as well as Joanie Lamercier, the French artist whose blog on his NFT-backed art energy consumption may have kicked off the climate hysteria that overtook NFTs amid their push into mainstream consciousness.
Eventually, the bull market will fade and the money sloshing around will dry up. At that point, the cheaper, durable, and diverse communities like H=N might well be the ones left standing.