The Art of Connecting in the Metaverse


“I can’t change the fact that my paintings don’t sell. But the time will come when people will recognize that they are worth more than the value of the paints used in the picture. – Vincent Van Gogh

During his short but very prolific life, Van Gogh created more than 2000 works of art, but he is said to have sold only one painting for 400 francs ($70). Last November, his watercolor Haystacks was auctioned off at Christie’s for $35.86 million. Despite his posthumous success, when he died at 37, Van Gogh was penniless.

Vincent Van Gogh is one of the many artists who did not derive any financial benefit from their creations. Yet imagine if countless artists who died in poverty had the opportunity to reap future benefits from their masterpieces?

Entrepreneur Daniela Ciocca says there’s no need to imagine. “For the first time in history, artists can benefit from the future success of their work,” says the prolific crypto and NFT trader. Ciocca, who spent fifteen years in finance working with several hedge funds, left asset management in 2019 to pursue crypto trading full-time.

Working in hedge funds, she was aware of a lot of research. “Also, I’m a research junkie, so after reading an article about bitcoin in early 2019, I went down a crypto rabbit hole and decided to learn everything I could about it. It was so counter-cultural, and by then Bitcoin had survived ten years without fading into obsolescence,” Ciocca observes. “So it seemed like this groundbreaking concept had passed the experimental phase and found significant footing. I got hooked right away.”

Over the past year, when NFTs (non-fungible tokens) exploded in popularity, Ciocca saw how artists could not only have sovereignty over their creations, but she also recognized how NFTs could help raise capital for the non-profit sector and benefit charities and other community endeavours. .

“I am interested in the intersection between art, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. This is also how NFTs, as an extension of the crypto-sovereign model, allow artists to benefit from the success of their work, unlike galleries and collectors who reap the majority of the profits,” says Ciocca. “NFTs have the ability to create unprecedented opportunities for individuals and communities to raise large sums for causes they believe in while breaking down class system barriers for artists and investors. It is a truly inspiring model.

In fact, Ciocca has a vision for how blockchain can democratize the art world and philanthropy. “Crypto has created opportunities that extend to everyone, not just the privileged. Certification is starting to fade,” says Ciocca. “An artist doesn’t need to be represented by the next Leo Castelli to have a successful career. And the buyer doesn’t have to be a millionaire to build an art collection.

With a desire to help nurture artists, teach them how blockchain technology can support them, and raise capital for charities, Ciocca founded Plutonic, a company focused on creating synergistic partnerships between artists, businesses and non-profit organizations using digital art in the NFT space. This month, Plutonic is hosting its first pop-up gallery installation, The Artist Died Poor, in New York City from February 25 to March 6.

“Each artist donates a unique NFT (or artwork) to auction with 100% of proceeds supporting programs for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking through Middle Way House, designated as one of six Model Shelters by the US Department of Justice,” says Ciocca. In addition to art, the multi-faceted program includes storytelling, jazz, rhythmic poetry, harmonic sound bath, comedy night, Mardi Gras night and more. (Visit here for more details.)

“The Artist Died Poor bridges the physical and metaverse art worlds,” Ciocca explains. “Physical and digital art will be presented in mixed media formats. NFT artists will have the experience of presenting their work to an in-person audience. The events aim to bring people together to enhance the visceral experience in contrast to sitting behind a computer while taking in life through a screen. It is meant to reconnect us.

For Ciocca, it was essential to have live performances to accompany the art installation. “Psychologists and neuroscientists have conducted studies to determine when we share in-person collective experiences like theater and live performances, our heartbeats synchronize with other people in the audience, whether we know them or not. “, she says. ” It’s beautiful ? It’s something we sorely miss as we move into the digital age.

That said, Ciocca also recognizes that the digital age offers the unique opportunity to reach large audiences and connect with strangers around the world. “We will also be live streaming some of our events in hopes that some of that energy can resonate beyond physical space,” she adds. “We want this to be accessible to everyone.”

Jeryl Brunner: How can artists benefit from selling their art as NFT?

Daniela Ciocca: The process of tokenizing digital art on the blockchain is called minting. It’s basically creating a contract related to your art. Artists can schedule this contract to include royalties. This means that each time their art is resold on the blockchain, they will receive a percentage of the value of the sale.

Brunner: In what unexpected ways can artists profit and give back?

Ciocca: This is where it gets really exciting! Artists in the NFT space have access to an international marketplace of traders and collectors 24/7, creating a much more liquid environment than physical art offerings. This, along with the price appreciation in the crypto industry and the euphoria experienced by participants, has led to people paying incredibly high sums for certain NFT arts.

For example, I was at Sotheby’s in November, admiring a Degas before an auction. I remember converting the expected bid range price from USD to ETH, which was around $200,000-$300,000 or 42-65 ETH. At the same time, CryptoPunks, a collection of 10,000 pieces of generative NFT art from 2017, sold for 2-3 times more than the Degas. Owning a CryptoPunk was a status symbol in the crypto community and sold incredibly more than a universally revered piece of art history.

Now imagine an artist or project using that social cachet to raise money for nonprofits or social enterprises. Whether it’s a percentage of the sale price, donating artwork, or creating a one-of-a-kind piece at auction, the fundraising possibilities are endless.

Brunner: How did you organize the shows and select the artists for the program?

Ciocca: As we move further away from the public sphere and further into the metaverse, each artist’s collection uniquely connects us to these themes of altered reality. Lucinda Schreiber is an animator, illustrator and director. She used a poem by Brautigan to loosely inspire her debut collection NFT Cybernetic Meadow, which features lonely female figures gazing into the distance while surrounded by various conglomerations of nature and machine.

Urumumi is a Catalan artist whose minimalist techniques punctuate the mood of isolation so perfectly in their creation of the Lonely Astronauts collection. These characters find themselves completely engrossed in the vast, desolate, but beautiful lands they discover. Gossip Goblin is a prolific NFT artist. This show will feature his work from The Divine Order of the Zodiac, an astrology-based project with written lore describing an alternate history of the formation of the galaxy and the formation of humanity. Javier Piñon is an internationally acclaimed collage artist who brings parts of his work to life for his first NFT collection. Javier hails from the other side of the dystopian vision with disjointed characters existing in visceral spaces. Joel Fitzpatrick is a mystical medium who works in light, video and pixel mapping. For The Artist Died Poor, he is creating a site-specific light installation and launching his first-ever NFT collection, which will provide a reflective lens for the curatorial set.

Brunner: And what about live events during The Artist Died Poor?

Ciocca: They are meant to serve as a complete counterpoint to the solitary experience. We celebrate a multitude of sensory experiences, art forms and genres to complement the visual installation. The opening reception will feature reviews by The Bumby’s and Cellista’s poetic compositions for cello. The Brass Queens will perform for the Mardi Gras weekend. We have a comedy night with Emma Willmann, Zarna Garg, Josh Johnson, Kenice Mobley, Diane Neal, H. Foley. There is an event of storytelling, rhythmic poetry and jazz performed by Ari Gold, Maeve Higgins, Caveh Zahedi, Daniel Pinchbeck, Michael Leviton. There will be an NFT 101 conversation with astrologer Ophira Edut of Astrostyle and a harmonic sound bath with Rudra Bach.

Brunner: Some people think that being in front of a computer 24/7 is isolating. What are some other ways crypto can unite and bring us together?

Ciocca: Since the Sovereign Model is where peer-to-peer networks shape our future businesses and projects, every effort represents an exercise in team building and an opportunity for people to connect. GrailersDAO and Bright Moments’ CryptoCitizens are great examples of decentralized enterprises (or DAOs) that serve as great models for building teams and communities, both in person and on Discord.

Brunner: What do you hope to do next?

Ciocca: My goal is to marry my organizational skills of building infrastructure on Wall Street with my passion for giving back and connecting people. Plutonic will then focus on working with partners and artists to raise funds to research common but understudied medical issues that plague women and find innovative ways to address them.

I am very excited about the energy that exists in this space to rally around causes and use art as a channel to unite worlds, industry and individuals to create community impact.


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