How hic et nunc Brings a New Paradigm Shift in the NFTs and Art Spaces

From an international hackathon born in a week to charity campaigns becoming habits, forget what you heard about NFTs in 2021 and listen to the fabulous and complex story of hic et nunc.

As with any organic and community-powered movement, it is highly difficult to have an objective perspective on the evolution of hic et nunc. This article covers my own experience of the platform and I am sure that you could read dozens of different stories depending on who is telling it.

I started to be interested in the blockchain and how museums could use it in 2018 to solve some of their core challenges. I wrote a few articles on the topic and organised a few panels discussions and meetups at different conferences to feed discussions on the topic.

In March 2021, I heard the artist and climate activist Joanie Lemercier (article: The problem of CryptoArt) talking about a carbon-friendly and community-based platform to mint art on the blockchain. You can imagine that all these keywords were very much aligned with my interests and values, so I started using hic et nunc.

Hic et nunc is the first and biggest art marketplace on the Tezos Blockchain, and just got elected as the “Best NFT Marketplace” through a Twitter poll by NFT NYC this week. But before it became what it is today, let’s go back to its first steps.

The first tweet sent from the Twitter account of hic et nunc contained a link to the lecture “A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History” by philosopher Manuel DeLanda. In his theories, he sees major transitions in human history as phase transitions, similar to changes from gas to liquid to solid.

“Hic et nunc is a social experiment” Rafael Lima, founder of hic et nunc

After spending a year going from the e-games community, the low gas fees and transaction fees made possible on Tezos bring a new opportunity for hic et nunc. On March 1st 2021, swapping OBJKTs is made possible on hic et nunc. Artists such as Quasimondo, Memo Akten and Joanie Lemercier starts swapping NFTs and spreading the word about it. Jason Bailey from Artnome published an article saying hic et nunc revives the true spirit of web art.

In March 2021, if you were minting on hic et nunc, you had no choice but not to sleep anymore. It was hectic and so beautiful! The energy was thrilling and every day was a new adventure.

To celebrate 10 000 #OBJKTS minted on hic et nunc, the collective DiverseNftArt launched OBJKT4OBJKT on the 26th of March. During a weekend, artists swapped their NFTs for free in great amounts! Everyone started to collect each other, the big names and the new ones, everyone became an NFT collector and felt part of a vivid community.

“ We believe that the OBJKT4OBJKT initiative helps to create a happier and healthier community within Hic et nunc and that by removing the monetization barrier it will help other artists and collectors to discover and build a more diverse art collection.” (source)

Another key characteristic made clear with this event is that the community behind hic et nunc is highly diverse. Born in Brazil, a huge part of the community comes from South America with artists like Fiedler, Bernardo Liu, shxmxskx or Auni Seiva, then another hub is in South Asia where you’ll find a lot of creators coming from Malaysia and the Philippines like Mumu, Bjorn Calleja or Patrick Jamora.

Europe also became a big hub with Joanie Lemercier onboarding so many new artists with TheFEN. On April 19th, Joanie Lemercier and Juliette Bibasse started to organise coordinated drops by bringing new artists from the art world on hic et nunc. This happened every week for a month or so adding great value to the community with well-known names.

On top of these community events, every Saturday evening from April to May, the media VerticalCryptoArt organised online meetups with people from the community to discuss the life of hic et nunc. Topics could go from the use of hDAO, the token released by hic et nunc, how to reward community contribution to the development of the platform, ideas of possible evolution in the metaverse, but most and foremost, how the roadmap of hic et nunc looks like.

All these discussions led to one tweet of Quasimondo suggesting that we should organise a hackathon. He suggested calling it “hicathon”. After a simple poll on Twitter with 3 potential dates, the community agreed on the following weekend. The poll was made on a Friday, one week later, we kicked off the hicathon on Saturday, May 22nd at 9 am Brazil time. I have been in charge of the coordination of the event production and I can tell you that I forgot to sleep for a week.

We received a grant from the Tezos Foundation and Tezos Commons to distribute bounties to the participants, to cover the organisation costs but also to ensure the sustainability of the project and its next steps. On top of that, the community donated more than 650 NFTs which became with time, a generous pool to support the hicathon. During this event, 150 participants divided into 20 working groups worked on a metaverse and a DAO for hic et nunc, new UI-UX designs, splitting contracts, how to verify users, avoid copyminting, talking about the legal aspects of things, and much more. The hicathon even help find consensus by collectively writing the manifesto made by participants from over 70 countries worldwide. You can read the recap here.

Good to mention that, during the hicathon, an exploit has been revealed and managed by the community quite fast, and then a second one-two weeks later which caused the website to close for a week. This catalyzed the community, even more, to support Rafael and help him write a new smart contract. After that sales went up again and the community felt stronger than before.

It was time to think about turning the prototypes from the hicathon into finalised projects. So, we gathered with a team from the community to develop the first voting tool for hic et nunc so the community could express what they want and guide the working groups still active.

For one month, in September, we organised the post-hicathon where 7 working groups could finalise their projects and implement them. One month ago, we celebrated the end of the post-hicathon where the working groups presented a smart contract to split sales, new UI UX developments to be implemented on hic et nunc, the release of hen.radio — the first radio on hic et nunc, HEN Metaverse, and more. On top of that, the hicathon contributed to the ecosystem with a great number of decentralised apps, tools, useful resources and tutorials. From the timeline of hic et nunc created by the working group 10.2 that I used to write this article, to the index used by hic et nunc for months, the hicathon influence was huge. Read the essentials here.

Another characteristic of hic et nunc is the social purpose of art. Donation campaigns to support social and environmental causes are something at the heart of the community. For instance, the account SOS Colombia has been created to support the protesters during the strikes in Colombia, with the fabulous piece by Violeta López “Street Surveillance Technologies”

People also donated to hic et turco to support the local communities in Turkey devastated by the wildfires, and for so many other causes. The hashtag #helpetnunc is being used globally when artists want to show support to a cause.

Hic et nunc is also a vibrant ecosystem that is constantly building new tools, applications, resources ready for the community to use it. The fact that the Tezos Foundation requires projects to be open-source contributed strongly to the richness of the ecosystem. It ensures that content is being shared and used, modified, updated constantly. That the community is in ever-lasting experimentation and evolution where people and their creativity are the main fuel.

To list only a few, here are some impressive projects fully powered by the hic et nunc community:

  • alterHEN is an artist-run gallery that calls for a slow production, slow appreciation and slow consumption of NFT art
  • Scapes is a gallery for NFT artists around the topics of architecture and the environment
  • hicdex provides different tools including some useful statistics
  • hen.next, objkt.com and hic.af are hic-based market places

You can find here a good list of tools made by the community, and some more developpers-centred tools here.

And because it is not always easy to start your NFT journey, the community organised itself to onboard artists in the NFT space. The VerticalCryptoArt Residency (in which I am providing some mentorship) and the Tibum Residency are both providing guidance and mentoring to help creators understand the specificities of the space and offer them the right resources to make it flourish.

As you could guess, this is a tiny part of everything which happened since March 2021. See you online for the next steps.

Museum futurist, curator & community builder. Founder of @wearemuseums. Visual artist nudging for nature awareness.