PhotoVerso Issue #3
Your Guide to Photography in the Metaverse
Drops of the Week
The Big News
Meta/Instagram exploring NFT integration
Who We’re Tracking This Week
Fellowship Futures Collection
Photographer of the Week
On Collecting, Pt. III - Condition and Archivability
Drops of the Week
Roe Ethridge’s 22 Pigeons is the first curated drop facilitated by the new, artist-run curated platform Zome, founded by photographers Carlo Van de Roer and Matthew Porter. The drop is a collection of 22 pigeon photographs from the artist’s past inventory, reauthored to exist within the NFT space.
Ethridge has long been considered among the most influential contemporary photographers, and his work is included in collections such as Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and many others.
Transmedia artist and activist Paulumi Basu released her genesis drop with Assembly this week, featuring a 34-piece collection titled, Centralia. The project is a “docu-fiction” journey through Central India, a region that hosts conflicts between the Indian State and an indigenous population that has become subject to war crimes and exploitation. The project teeters between fact and fiction, reflecting the oft-cited notion that, 'The first casualty, when war comes, is truth.'
The artist has previously earned wide acclaim for the series, including a a shortlisting for the prestigious Mack First Book Award and the a nomination for the Deutsche Börse Prize 2021.
The Big News
The financial news outlet FT reported this week that Meta, parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is making preparations to integrate an NFT marketplace into their ecosystem. The report makes no mention of timing, though the development is expected to open major gateway for mass entry into the NFT economy.
More crucially, in the context of the photography world, Instagram NFT integration would bring immediate market access to nearly 2 billion monthly users, all of whom, to one extent or another, are making and sharing photography. The implications of the development are massive, and account for a mind-boggling quarter of the world’s population that potentially may look to bring their entire photographic output to a global marketplace.
With such an expansion of access and ease of usage within the NFT ecosystem, We can only imagine what such an influx of cultural production may mean for the NFT market. The two most pressing questions: What will sales competition among Instagram and Facebook users mean for online social dynamics? And how much control will corporatized marketplaces exert over independent cultural workers? We urge you, as they say, to watch this space.
Who We’re Tracking This Week
Untitled DAO made its public debut this week with an announcement of its origin collection, a selection of 15 artists spanning a range of technical, conceptual, and aesthetic approaches to photographic storytelling. The DAO, made up of photographers, curators, and collectors, is “dedicated to championing thoughtful photographic practice within the NFT space.” As conveyed in its vision statement.
Obscura announced a new initiative this week entitled Carousel Curated, which aims to become the “world’s largest archive of found slides.” The project ambitiously seeks to harken back to a nostalgic era of photography history in which photographs were projected through slide film. And the project will give space for old, forgotten, and difficult-to-archive photographs to be given new life on the blockchain.
The platform has released a submission form, and selected slides will be produced as 1/1 NFTs in curated drops of 80 images each. More info on the project can be found on the #carousel-curated channel in the platform’s Discord.
Fellowship Futures Collection
Fellowship is continuing its rapid collecting activities by developing its “Fellowship Futures” collection, which curates and acquires work of up-and-coming photographers in the NFT space. Recent acquisitions include work from Laurent Chevalier, Summer Wagner, Maria Lax, and Natalie Sosa, among others.
Frame11 Gallery is a virtual photo exhibition space founded by NFT photographer Claudia Pawlak in 2021. The space is positioned as a collaborative project made in response to gender disparity in the photography world, both in and out of the NFT ecosystem.
The platform has just announced its upcoming exhibition, Persistence, which is set to hold an opening reception on February 10th. The exhibition will feature the work of 14 women photographers in the NFT space and comes at a time when dialogues within the community are growing in volume to seek greater equity for female artists.
While the exhibition isn’t up yet, you can preview the space here
Quantum announced a new website to coincide with the opening of “Quantum Community,” a shortlisting of photographer projects which the platform invites its community to vote on to decide it’s next drop. The platform is also previewing it’s next curated drop by storm-chasing photographer Mitch Dobrowner.
3 Questions with Amy Woodward
Australian photographer Amy Woodward has become recognized in the NFT space for the intimate and tender lens through which she portrays domestic life and parenthood. There are few within this space that could be said to produce work with such quiet elegance, and the photographer has been recognized widely via numerous awards, exhibitions, and even a feature in Rolling Stone in August.
PV: Can you tell us about your background as a photographer?
AW: My photography journey started in my mid-teens. I grew up in small rural or coastal country towns and moved very frequently - almost every 6 months. I was drawn to document these constant changes around me and my immediate family in an intimate and honest way.
In my early twenties I moved to Melbourne to study photography at RMIT and after graduating in 2016, I worked commercially, in galleries, and in printing & framing for many years. It was only when I had my first child that I returned to my portrait & documentary roots and began turning the camera inwards on my own family.
PV: What inspires you as a photographer and what do you hope audiences take away from your work?
AW: My work explores the intensity, chaos and tender beauty of early parenthood + family life, unflinchingly and intuitively. My own journey into matrescence was clouded with postpartum depression, anxiety, an overwhelming sense of loneliness and invisibility - like so many others - which drove my desire to investigate the ever-present contradictions within the motherhood experience; the intoxicating highs and lows. I hope I am able to offer my audience a honest and unguarded look into the motherhood experience and to bring more visibility to mothers and primary caregivers.
PV: What's the scoop with your latest NFT drop?
AW: ‘A Life’s Work’ is disarmed, bare and intimate. It is an ongoing collection of motherhood portraiture honouring the power, tenderness, intensity and complexities of being a mother in today’s society. I will be adding to this collection periodically, compiling a curated collection of some of my strongest motherhood portraits.
On Collecting Photography NFTs
This is the third of a multi-part series exploring what it means to collect NFT photography. In week 1, we covered the topic of rarity. In week 2, we discussed provenance & ownership. This week we’ll talk about condition and archivability.
Pt. 3: Condition & Archivability
Among the largest concerns of traditional collectors is preserving the physical condition of artwork. Print photographs in particular can be rather delicate objects, subject to scratching and scuffing, bent corners, and even fading over time. Long-term materiality of print photographs relating is also dependent on the archivability of papers and chemical materials. While most modern photo papers and inks are marketed as archival, they simply have not existed long enough to prove their promise that the condition of prints will not begin break down within our lifetimes. This all goes without mentioning the risks involved in properly handling and storing artwork, where human error presents the largest risks.
NFTs as artwork benefit collectors by doing away with the material baggage of the physical. NFTs cannot degrade, and photography on the blockchain ensures that investments remain in mint-condition, which de-risks the long-term maintenance of the asset. Collectors still must be cautions about proper “wallet hygiene", which refers to responsible maintenance of seed phrases that allow they very access to their assets. Long-term preservation of NFTs is also, importantly, dependent on the smart contracts that the work exists on.
Due diligence in regard to the storage of metadata should be a priority in the collecting process. Contracts that are native to marketplace platforms like OpenSea and Foundation should not be relied upon for permanence. The NFT is a token that corresponds to the digital file it represents, and a corrupted contract could potentially de-link the token from the file. Global decentralized storage solutions such as IPFS, Arweave, and Filecoin are important for artists to consider utilizing as a means to provide collectors peace of mind in the long-term security of their assets.