after the dark ages, the rebirth of a blockchain


Long neglected by the Web3 ecosystem, the Tezos platform stands out today with a vibrant artistic activity, exemplified by a partnership with Art Basel, the biggest player in contemporary art in the world.

Launched in 2018, following a $232 million ICO conducted in 2017 (a record at the time), the Tezos blockchain has long been synonymous with legal trouble, whether it’s the conflict between its creators, Franco-Americans Arthur and Kathleen Breitman. and the foundation responsible for the funds, or the class action brought on American soil by the investors against these three parties and finally settled in 2020.

In 2020, precisely, her network was painfully generated 11,000 monthly transactionsan activity that is quite modest in view of its valuation at the time ($2 billion) and the momentum observed on the Ethereum platform at the same time (between 18 and 39 million transactions per month, according to statement from the Block). “It was a bit of a dead blockchain. You could say there was just nothing to it,” recalls Gaspard Broustine, head of the NFT branch at Ledger. “Until the Emergence of Hicetnunc, Tezo’s First NFT Platform”.

A platform privileged for its accessibility

Founded in March 2021 by a young Brazilian developer named Rafael Lima, the NFT market hicetnunc.xyz, Hen for February, really sounds like the revival of a blockchain that has been somewhat abandoned until now. “Art exploded in Tezos in 2021 with hicetnunc, created in a completely organic way”, recognizes Arthur Breitman, the creator of Tezos. “Of course, Tezos has good tools and guides for developers, there’s a whole environment that makes it easy to create projects, but they’re standalone projects and they’ve found a home in Tezos.”

Hicetnunc.xyz site capture © chicken

Barely two months after its creation, Hen surpassed Opensea in the number of transactions and users, who are attracted by the then more accessible Tezos environment than Ethereum, whose network is congested and transactions are expensive. “Ethereum transaction costs were very high, so it put a barrier to direct entry for many artists, especially in developing countries,” continues Gaspard Broustine, approved by Diane Drubay, director of the arts and culture department at. TZConnectBerlin-based development studio for Tezos: “Raphael Lima’s initiative has made it possible to open the blockchain and provide access to the art market to much more diverse communities, without having to pay expensive transaction fees and without impact catastrophic in the environment”, she summarizes.

Arthur Breitman, co-founder of Tezos. © TF

Since its genesis and thus four years ahead of Ethereum, the Tezos network has indeed adopted a so-called liquid proof-of-stake consensus, a variation of proof-of-stake, less energy-consuming than Bitcoin’s proof-of-work and even even in time, Ethereum. “Proof-of-stake has been an important factor in attracting users. It’s no coincidence that we’ve been there since the beginning, because culturally, it was unthinkable to pretend for years to be interested in this consensus method.” , provides JDN Arthur Breitman, how to fix late Ethereum update.

Although hicetnunc is now gone, other platforms have taken over, such as Objkt.com or the market dedicated to generative art and founded by the Frenchman Baptiste Crespy, FXHash. For their part, the Tezos Foundation and its divisions located around the world promote the brand by materially supporting local artistic initiatives. “There are regular big events to celebrate the community: Nine Nights in Asia; People’s Trial in London; I regularly organize meetups in Berlin. exposure, online resources, mentoring and grants for artists to use Tezos,” says Diane Drubay. Located in the Marais in Paris since 2010, the contemporary art gallery Charlot has decided to open in October. its NFT online sales platform on the Tezos network. An obvious thing according to its owner Valérie Hasson-Bénillouche, who believes that “the Tezos foundation is very attentive and present at the smallest need. It is one of the platforms that artists use the most, it offers very good visibility”. Visible, the Tezos foundation was particularly visible during the inaugural edition of Paris+ from Art Basel with three days of events at Bal de la Marine. She is too partner of Art Basel Miami in December, the largest contemporary art fair in the world, a sign of earned legitimacy.

“Everybody’s Talking About Crypto Winter, But Not Tezos”

Today, the activity on the platform has nothing to do with what it generated two years ago: according to the database BetterCallDev, the network records between 3 and 5 million smart contract calls (interactions with autonomous programs) per month in 2022 versus 200,000 to 400,000 in 2020. “Since the arrival of NFTs in Tezos, activity is in full swing,” he insists Gaspard Broustine. “Everyone is talking about crypto winter, but at Tezos, we’ve seen the number of transactions increase and some of the best sales happen. Simply because we’re talking about art,” adds Diane Drubay.

Diane Drubay, head of arts and culture at TZConnect. © Evelyn Bencicova

However, blockchain is still not supported by marketplace leader OpenSea, despite the latter’s promises of a $200,000 donation in 2021 for this technical development. “It’s a pity they never did anything, but it’s not a problem for us. OpenSea is a bad student in this area and there are much better markets for Tezos, like Objkt”, starts Arthur Breitman. In addition to Objkt and fxhash, there are many exchange platforms on the network: Teia.art from hicetnunc code, Typed.art dedicated to textual NFTs or even newborns. Cut, created in France to promote tech-free creation and notably supported by FNAC Darty during a €3 million fundraiser last July. Still in France, startup incubator Lezar House PyratzLabs launched last October ArtOSa platform dedicated to projects that connect the digital with the physical.

Music and games, after visual art?

However, the activity always remains more consistent on Ethereum or even Solana. With both of these networks adopting proof of stake, the question is whether Tezos will remain relevant. “In Tezos, there is no blockchain lock-in, unlike Solana (interrupted regularly due to technical issues, editor’s note) and when asked if artists will switch to Ethereum 2.0, the answer is often no.

Work titled In Motion, listed on Objkt.com © Eclectic

There is a strong and supportive community that will stay on Tezos. It’s built organically with developers donating their time. I like to say that NFT in Ethereum is New York and in Tezos it is Berlin. It’s more underground, more experimental. Artists on both platforms also do cheaper work on Tezos. You find things that are off the beaten track,” analyzes Gaspard Broustine. A sentiment clearly shared by Diane Drubay and Arthur Breitman. Gallery owner Valérie Hasson-Bénillouche is more nuanced because if “artists appreciate the support of the Tezos foundation, in In At the end of the day, it will largely depend on how collectors position themselves and which platform they prefer.”

The fact remains that, both on Tezos and other platforms, NFT market activity will dry up during this third quarter of 2022. Will cryptoart and generative art alone be enough to generate activity in the future? Arthur Breitman has his own take on the question and slips us into the future axes of expansion of his platform: “Music is the art form that affects the most people in the world and from this point of view, there is a vector of popularization that seems very important to me. The same goes for games: today, a mediocre game has more users than a massively successful blockchain. So it’s also a sector that will bring people together.” .

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