Welcome to RAW Reflections, a publication about photographic art in the strange new world of NFTs.
Sounds simple enough, but there's a few interesting things we wouldn't want you to miss from behind the scenes.
So please, grab a seat while we go through the peculiar context in which RAW Reflections was born — it'll be useful to acquaint ourselves as we start this journey.
RAW is the uncompressed format in which digital photography is first rendered.
As light passes through the lens and aperture of a modern camera, photons hit the sensor, inducing subtle electric currents that get recorded in memory as a RAW image file, uncompressed and exactly as the sensor first saw it. These image files are converted and go through a process of refinement before they reach their final stage, ready to be shared with the world.
It also describes the state of the NFT photography market in which RAW DAO, the organization, was formed: undeveloped, intractable, inefficient — but also, ready to be sculpted into something great and shared with the world.
The dawn of NFT technology allowed for the formation of new markets, in particular for art and culture. We've since witnessed remarkable growth in the creation and commercialization of NFT art, mainly in computer-native expressions such as generative or programmable art.
The application of this is obvious for photography. Contemporary photos are fully digital entities, and are thus plagued with the same issues that once cursed the music industry: easy duplication and sharing, no digital ownership.
NFTs solve this exact issue—digital scarcity—while also offering many convenient amenities for collectors, such as a frictionless marketplace experience through Opensea and other dapps, where one can track the entire provenance of an artwork or collection.
While the technological foundation is laid down and commercialization of NFT photography is already up and running, the intellectual and curatorial landscape that is necessary in any art market is still in its infancy.
The high degree of subjectivity, characteristic of contemporary art, exacerbates the need for curatorial figures to build consensus on what should be considered valuable.
Not all art can be valuable—the same way that not all music can be popular—and so collectors, often motivated by the prospect of financial gains, latch on to whatever quality signals they can identify.
And what better signal than the carefully sculpted opinions of experts and pundits?
The ethos of web3 might have something to say about that. Such a level of centralization of influence doesn't fly well in a market born from the disruptive and decentralization-obsessed world of cryptocurrency.
Enter RAW DAO: a Decentralized Autonomous Organization dedicated to identifying, collecting, and promoting the best that NFT photography has to offer.
RAW DAO began as an incubation funded by Fingerprints DAO, a major collector and lighthouse of blockchain NFT art. Its founding members include renowned artists such as Justin Aversano, Alejandro Cartagena, Michelle Viljoen, and many others, along with major collectors and web3 builders.
Part of the funding for the organization came through the public auctioning of Justin Aversano's Twin Flames #49 via PartyBid, titled the "Community Twin." Bidders received fractions of the artwork and proportional $RAW tokens, in what became one of the most valuable photography sales of all time.
Being a DAO means all major decisions are settled by our community of tokenholders.
Anyone can acquire $RAW tokens and become a member of RAW DAO, enabling them to vote on governance decisions about how the organization is run and how the treasury is spent.
Via this mechanism, RAW members have created a system of decentralized curation, where works of NFT photography are nominated by the community, reviewed, discussed, voted on, and eventually acquired.
In its current iteration, the top 3 voted collections are acquired every month, establishing a high bar for what works are allowed to join the RAW collection.
RAW members are provided a space where they can mingle and discuss artworks in Discord, contribute to the work that is required to sustain the organization, and can be compensated for it in a novel and decentralized compensation system.
In its current iteration, RAW is divided in thematic working groups such as governance, marketing, and finance, and all members are allowed to work in whatever areas they choose. At the end of each month, members gather and vote for each other, splitting compensation budgets according to their perceived contribution.
The balanced and unique mix of artists, collectors, and enthusiasts makes the RAW community truly unique in the NFT photography space: a hotspot for the curatorial and intellectual discussions necessary to move the market from its "raw" form to a more sophisticated and evolved version.
Becoming a member of RAW requires jumping through a few hoops for the crypto-uninitiated, but summarized instructions are available in our website.
If you are passionate about photography, art or the possibilities of web3.0, we'll be here waiting to welcome you to our community.
Make sure to bring your camera! 📸
Until then, we'll see you in the next issue of RAW Reflections. 👋