A Different Approach to NFTs: Behind the Innovation at Async Art With Sam Brukhman

In recent months, NFTs have become less of a novelty and increasingly accepted in the pop-cultural landscape. It is an excellent moment to look deeper into a marketplace doing things a little differently: Async Art, which resides on async.art.

Async Art is an NFT platform offering space for ‘programmable’ art. Its basic concept works exactly like many other platforms: NFTs get auctioned off on the Ethereum blockchain. However, on Async Art, NFTs fall into two categories: ‘master’ and ‘layers’. Each master is made up of various layers that exist as NFTs independently from each other and can be altered by whoever owns the layer. To give an example: a master can consist of a still life of oranges in a basket, with its layers being something like the colour of the oranges or the size of the basket. Whoever owns the layer of the oranges can manipulate the way they look according to parameters set up by the artist, impacting the master image. Additionally, the layers can be programmed by outside factors such as the weather or the time of day. In this case, the master will change according to temperature or hour to exist as ‘autonomous art’.

First Supper, by Shortcut, Josie, Sparrow, mlibty, Vans Design, Alotta Money, Twisted Vacancy, Coldie, Hackatao, XCOPY, Matt Kane, Rutger van der Tas and DIGITAL via Async.art

Async Art launched back in February of 2020 with a collaborative NFT’ First Supper‘ to showcase the creativity this programming brings. A star-studded cast of thirteen artists created its layers: Shortcut, Josie, Sparrow, mlibty, Vans Design, Alotta Money, Twisted Vacancy, Coldie, Hackatao, XCOPY, Matt Kane, Rutger van der Tas and DIGITAL. The platform has kept seeing its fair share of success ever since. Contrary to popular belief, Christie’s sold its first NFT with Robert Alice’s ‘Block 21‘ on Async Art in October of 2020 – months before Beeple’s historic sale. Async Art also recently launched Async Music, bringing the same concept of layered programming to songs with ‘stems’ and ‘variants’. Amongst those already auctioning off their work in this form are Lee Gaito (with cover art by Murat Pak) and indie band HMLTD. However, the most exciting project, coincidentally the record-breaking for Async Art, is ‘Betty’s Notebook‘.  

 

“Ever since joining Async Art eight months ago, I was dreaming about applying music to the blockchain”, comments Sam Brukhman, who led Betty’s Notebook project from its inception three years ago to the final auction earlier this spring. He is also the artistic director for Verdigris Ensemble, the innovative choral ensemble behind the recording. ‘Betty’s Notebook’ NFT seeks to immortalize the controversial mystery-filled story of Amelia Earhart as narrated by Betty Klenck. “It is a crypto-native art that gave voice to someone who talked about it and was not believed until the end of her life”, describes Brukhman. He also adds how twenty-three collaborators ranging across composers, sound engineers, and singers worked on making the art piece possible. 

Sam Brukhman

Brukhman has a classical music background and experienced first-hand the challenges musicians face in monetizing their work. “I come from a field that traditionally gets screwed over, and classical musicians have it especially hard”, he says, “You pay upwards of 150K for education, pay for young artists programme, visit tons of auditions, and then, you face the fact that there simply isn’t enough demand for the amount of supply”. Musicians have always been dependent on the distribution network to monetize their content. With Async Music, people can sell their originals works for the first time in history, creating a new asset class. “This makes a huge difference in our field – profits going directly to artists”, adds Brukhman. The team is optimistic as an increasing number of musicians enter the NFT space, and continues to work hard to make a difference in more artists’ careers through the new implementation.

When it comes to selecting a name for Asynchronous Art (the extended version of the name), Brukhman explains that .ART served as an easy way to drive more awareness. “The art on our platform is making a statement, and so are we with the .art domain”, he adds.

At .ART we look forward to exploring new and exciting projects born on Async.art, which, for now, remains a curated platform, accepting artists and musicians through an application process. To apply and learn more visit Async.art.

Aleksandra Artamonovskaja
Aleksandra Artamonovskaja
Aleksandra has worked in consulting prior to joining the art world and is one of .ART's first employees. She contributes with articles covering the intersection of art and tech. You can connect with Aleksandra on LinkedIn