As the founding member of the Bright Moments NFT gallery and DAO, Seth Goldstein is an expert when it comes to the showcasing of NFT artwork. And with their latest show “100 Print” – a collection of generative art from renowned artist Ben Kovach – Goldstein and Bright Moments are continuing to push the envelope.
“What we’re doing is inventing new ways to experience this new form of art, and to be the bridge between online and offline. From a place of high integrity, creativity, and generosity.
We’re as much about you know, creating Grail works that can be collected by the museums of the future, as we are about onboarding people from underprivileged communities into their first NFTs. To us, it’s just one connected platform.”
Live from the Bright Moments gallery in New York City, Goldstein sat down with us last week to talk about his Web3 origin story, founding Bright Moments, and how its latest show exemplifies Bright Moments’ commitment to innovation when it comes to bringing NFTs to real-life spaces.
Quotes are condensed and edited for clarity. All images courtesy of Bright Moments.
Who is Bright Moments founding member Seth Goldstein?
Seth Goldstein holds the distinction of being a founder and angel investor in the previous iterations of the internet, as well as currently in Web3. Starting his first internet company in 1995, Goldstein has since worked as a venture capitalist and participated in some major companies as both a founder and investor.
He first got into cryptocurrency in the early 2010s. And while he jokes about not knowing what he was doing at the start, he was involved enough to see what was happening in the early days of Ethereum. Eventually, he jumped deeper into the space. Starting something that would foreshadow his later interest in Web3 community building.
“In 2018 I started a blockchain Community Center in San Francisco called Node. And the idea was to really help this emerging community of blockchain entrepreneurs have interesting spaces. And a sort of tokenized community center around the world.”
How NBA Top Shot inspired Seth Goldstein to jump into NFTs
Like so many people at the end of 2020, Seth started to take note of NBA Top Shot. The big-time Boston Celtics fan started to collect Moments with his two sons, and pretty soon saw the magic of Top Shot.
“I bought a [current NBA MVP Nikola Jokić] moment for $400. And then Jokić got into the All-Star Game. I sold it for $2,000 a couple of weeks later. And I was like, Okay, this is really interesting.”
Seth even acknowledges the connection between the NBA Top Shot NFTs, which are called “Moments”, to the name of the NFT Gallery he would ultimately form.
Soon after he got his feet wet with Top Shot, Seth started experimenting with NFTs himself, putting out some of his photography on Foundation. This only made it clearer to him just how much of a shift NFTs represented for artists.
“You know, one morning, I woke up and the NFT was sold, and I had Ethereum in my wallet. And it was way easier and way better than sending prints of photographs via Shopify to somebody.”
What is the Bright Moments NFT Gallery?
After witnessing several different waves of excitement around NFTs – CryptoKitties, CryptoPunks, then art on SuperRare and Foundation at the start of 2021 – Goldstein knew that NFTs were more than just a passing fad.
“It just seemed to me that it was just going to continue to grow as a file format that for the first time had ownership attached to it.”
Pretty soon he knew he wanted to do something with this new medium that would cater to many of his passions. Finally, the idea for Bright Moments came about.
“I think the artist in me gave way to the entrepreneur in me and said, Okay, let’s make an art gallery in Venice Beach and put up some screens and start showing NFTs. And so we took a gallery space right on Woodward Ave, underneath the Venice sign.”
Bright Moments’ opening show came in May 2021 and featured the work of Art Blocks’ Chief Creative Officer Jeff Davis. The ten-piece collection of generative art certainly pointed to the kinds of artists that Bright Moments would continue to collaborate with for its shows.
Although there was a major aspect of Bright Moments shows that didn’t materialize until after the show with Davis.
The beginning of Bright Moment’s live minting experiences
To be sure, Bright Moments’ live minting experiences are its calling card these days. But in the beginning, the practice arose out of a simple need. Indeed, a simple live show was perfect for bringing guests in for events. But as Seth tells it, there needed to be something to bring people to Bright Moments during the daytime.
“It wasn’t going to be enough simply to show a LeBron James Top Shot to bring people off the boardwalk. So instead, we’re like, why don’t we start giving NFTs away during the daytime from 3 pm to 5 pm?”
That idea led Bright Moments to create its own version of CryptoPunks that would eventually be labeled, Crypto Venetians (representing the community of the first physical Bright Moments gallery). And it didn’t take long before the Crypto Venetians were a hit.
“At first we couldn’t give them away. But pretty soon, people would come off the Venice boardwalk or off of the beach and mint a Crypto Venetian, and some collector around the world would buy it for $400 or $500. And then it was half an ETH. And then by July of last year, it was 2 or 3 ETH.
So we were giving things away that were worth $10,000 to $15,000. It was like a car dealership giving away 10 or 20 cars a day. And it was amazing and bizarre. It was kind of like Willy Wonka where you see the best of people and you see the worst of people.”
Crypto Citizens: Bright Moments DAO PFP project with a twist
Building on the success of the Crypto Venetians, Bright moments has expanded this concept into its own generative PFP project. However, unlike most PFP projects, the Crypto Citizens come in batches of 1,000 rather than 10K all at once. In addition, people can only mint Crypto Citizens in person at a Bright Moments gallery. Goldstein believes that these unique features are part of what helped the Crypto Citizens to really stand out.
“I think that was probably our most important innovation. Obviously, a lot of people were minting NFTs and a lot of people were putting up screens in physical spaces to show NFTs. But in terms of requiring you to be there physically to mint, I think that was a breakthrough. And I think, particularly coming out of the pandemic, it gave people a lot of hope.”
Another key point is that Bright Moment’s Crypto Citizens are technically an Art Blocks project. This is to say that they appeal greatly to collectors who heavily invest in that ecosystem. So much so that the Crypto Venetians had a strong secondary market after a short amount of time.
“There’s a lot of collectors who want one Fidenza and one Ringer… one of everything. And they saw this project with these interesting crypto characters and they’re like, How do I mint one? And if you’re in Singapore, and you’re caught in COVID, you can’t fly to Venice Beach. So you have to buy it on the secondary market. And it created a marketplace for what we were doing.”
Bright Moments’ pioneering mint experience with Ben Kovach, “100 Print”
Of course, Bright Moments’ exciting range of live minting experiences extends beyond the Crypto Citizens NFTs. Indeed, Goldstein spoke to NFTevening in the middle of its latest trailblazing show.
Last week, Bright Moments hosted “100 Print” at their New York Gallery. The show featured 100 generative art NFTs from the celebrated Art Blocks artist Ben Kovach. The show was a special one not just because of Kovach’s amazing art pieces, but also for the role it played in distributing the 100 NFTs.
To sum up, Bight Moments held a Dutch auction sale prior to the event but with one major twist. Rather than selling NFTs that would be generated upon mint, Bright Moments actually auctioned off ‘Draft Picks’. Then, live at the gallery show, people would pick a piece of Kovach’s collection according to the draft pick they bought. There were 100 draft picks, with the first 50 NFTs being selected on Wednesday, May 18th, and the next 5o chosen on Thursday, May 19th.
Using “draft picks” to better distribute generative NFT artwork
Aside from the added excitement of live drafting artwork, Goldstein suggests that this was a much more effective way of distributing the art to people.
“[Usually] when you mint a generative work, you don’t know what you’re going to get, and you get attached to the one you have or you buy something in the secondary market. It’s not the most efficient economically either.”
The pre-show Dutch auction started at 10 ETH and sold out at 1 ETH, bringing in 75 ETH in total. What’s more, because of the 10 days between the auction and the show, people traded draft picks in hopes of securing their favorite pieces. This led to a further 120 ETH in volume after the auction. And Goldstein believes that this enabled a deeper community-wide conversation around the entire collection.
“What’s fascinating is, during those 10 days, everybody got to look at all the different mints. And everybody got to think about what they would choose, and we all got much closer and engaged much more fully with the work than we would have otherwise.”
Goldstein stresses that screens aren’t the only way to display NFTs
One of the most interesting things about 100 Print that Goldstein highlights is that “it’s probably the most advanced show we’ve done and yet it has no screens.”
Although screens are the most common way NFTs are displayed in physical spaces, much of the point of this show – and the next Bright Moments show in London – was to showcase NFTs that are designed to be prints. In a way, these shows look to expand people’s minds when it comes to the different mediums that NFTs can take on.
“It doesn’t take away anything from the NFT. You still own it, you can look at it on your screen, you can look at it on your phone. You can also look at it on your walls as a print. And it’s all part of it. Having a physical print is no less of an NFT than putting it on a Samsung screen. It’s just, a different mode of expressing it.”
Seth Goldstein sees so much more to NFT art than just jpegs
All in all, Goldstein and Bright Moments are really pushing for a world where the true range of NFTs can shine. As one can see from 100 Print and all the artists and artworks that Bright Moments showcases, NFTs can utilize all the amazing advances and technologies that Web3 enables, while still being appreciated as traditional art would be.
“I think there’s sort of been a knee-jerk reaction to think that NFTs are necessarily like 3D graphics that move and look like Blade Runner, right? Or that it’s the metaverse and that’s what NFTs are. And the reality is, it’s much deeper and broader than that.”
Specifically, Goldstein is a champion for generative artwork, like the many pioneering collections coming out of Art Blocks. In a way, it really combines the elements of surprise and excitement that he experienced with Top Shot, and mixes it with fine art.
“I think what’s beautiful about generative art is this sort of dance with randomness. You’re controlling the algorithm, you’re controlling the range of outputs. But every single output is unique. Every single output is its own nonfungible token. And some are rarer than others so you kind of have that feeling like you’re opening up a pack of cards but for grownups. And it is art, and it does have utility, right? It doesn’t have to be either-or.”
Generative art charges on while the NFT market falters
That sentiment may offer some level of explanation as to the uptick in interest in generative art over the past few weeks. To clarify, while most NFT projects have seen prices and sales plummet as crypto as a whole goes through a down period, more people are flocking to generative art. And it’s that exact trend that gives Goldstein even more hope for the future of NFTs.
“In the last two weeks, I mean, we’ve been through such a rough period. It has really shaken out a lot of bad intentions. And it’s been very gratifying to see Art Blocks thrive. You know, at the bleakest moment, the art is winning. And that makes me really confident about this as a medium.”
Want to hear more from our amazing conversation with Seth Goldstein? You can check out the full interview on the NFTevening podcast here!