NFTs have immersed the art world in waves, the infinite potential of technology has surged artists to expand their reach as a result. Online platforms are vital for the circulation and exposure of NFTs. We had the pleasure of interviewing the founders of the captivating platform, OLTA, who happen to be working on stunning features such as multiplayer art and customizable NFTs. Exploring the complexities of creating such a prominent platform is a curiosity we have the opportunity of satiating, much is unearthed in regards to establishing a formidable NFT platform that features WebXR generated art that displays in real time across countless platforms.
Thank you for taking time to divulge details about OLTA. We are excited to learn about its journey and all its unique qualities. Firstly, tell us about the origin of its name. What does OLTA stand for and represent?
We were looking for a word that represents change, and we knew interaction would be the driver of that change. We also knew that the artworks we wanted to show were made with code (and could be altered). Coming up with the name was a pain in the ass but we’re really happy with what we ended up with. After we made up the word, we found out it meant ‘Drunk’ in Gaelige and ‘Fishing rod’ in Turkish but that made us care even more. After all, being drunk is an altered state of reality and fishing rods are cool.
Geo – Interactive NFT / Artist – Iskra Velitchkova
Tell us about how OLTA started and how far it’s come along. And what endeavors we can expect from OLTA in the near future.
Right before Olta we won a fund to produce and test our own multiplayer webAR project within a 5G infrastructure. From that project, we found confidence in our abilities to take the risk and put our own money into starting up our new project, Olta. Olta started with the idea that coders are creative. We noticed all the amazing art that was being made with code but it was hard to represent online. Fantastic libraries such as p5*js and Three.js have existed for ages but there wasn’t a platform that lets artists showcase and sell these works. NFT’s lets us make these works collectable and gives artists the opportunity to make an income from their art.
We then recognized that NFT’s would need to exist beyond our platform. The value created needs to be owned by the artist and not us. So we chose the Zora protocol to underpin the NFT’s. Our first idea was to prototype a way for audiences to customise NFT’s, a platform feature we’re calling ALT’s. We created the first three interactive artworks for our beta launch, which we released in August 2021.
Our first collector, Cameron Hejazi, co-founder of Cent and Valuables is now, we are proud to say, an investor. Shortly afterwards, we got chatting with Sam Williams, founder of Arweave who also kindly offered us investment too. We’ve had six amazing artworks sold by very talented interactive artists that we’ve been lucky to attract to our project. This month London DAO has awarded us a grant to part fund our Multiplayer Art feature. Today, we closed our first equity round and we’re starting to grow a small team.
In the near future, we are extending onto the Polygon Network where we will run NFT editions. We chose Polygon as it has less environmental impact and next to nothing gas fee’s. Letting us be more experimental.
Meanwhile – 3D Interactive NFT / Artist – Laureano Solis
Fundamentally, OLTA is a place for artists to tokenize their digital art. What other elements are you working to weave into the experience? For both the artist and purchaser?
Yes totally, making these artworks is complex, each one essentially a web app, there is a lot that goes into it and a lot we feel, as a platform, can help with. The first thing we’ve done is figure out the best way to store these artworks. We lean on Arweave to make this happen, letting us store artworks permanently and openly. Crucially also update the artworks if needs be, as they are experienced in the browser on many devices, bugs can crop up you know. By extension this versioning can be used to update and add features to their artwork over time. Art collectors will be able to jump back and forth to each version.
Building on that same idea we are working on ways to decentralize functionality. ALT’s is all about creating artworks that can be tweaked, changed, manipulated and then saved on the block-chain by a collector. The hope is that audiences can experience the piece in new ways, discover the relationships between parameters and play with the phenomena that emerges. It also moves generative art away from a random lottery towards a community driven experimentation. For us that is way more exciting as it creates a dialogue between artist and audience.
Taking that idea even further we’re developing “Multiplayer NFT’s”, allowing audience, collector and artist alike to make changes to interactive artworks. A new approach to community artwork. How exciting would that be?
Form – Interactive VR NFT / Artist – Tamrat
Following the previous thought, we sense OLTA is taking the usual transactional nature of NFT experiences to another level. In this age of online communication, do you think a social media component could be rendered into OLTA and what would that look like?
Yes, with our multiplayer NFT feature, we are imagining interactive art that evolves over time, reflecting the choices made by a community. Inclusive artworks for audience and collectors to participate with. Audience and artist-led art, opens up a social layer to NFT’s allowing people to contribute and even collaborate with the artist’s original concept. Giving each artwork it’s own traversable history.
The audience can then drive the aesthetic and conceptual thinking forward. Connections can be made socially on cultural levels when the interactions of the audience are seen. These NFT’s can incorporate audience contributions to artworks such as to modify the meaning, feeling, behaviour and message.
As a result of that, rarity will not be programmed in but be a consequence of participating in the artwork. A fleeting moment of beauty or an opportunity to take a new direction. This feels more organic and adds value in new ways.
OLTA welcomes coding as a medium of creative prowess. How does this platform reach coders and more niche artists out there in the world who may be interested in showcasing their work on OLTA?
Right now, we have fifteen artists and new creative coders are welcome to apply via our application form. From there, Olta curators review and choose. There are many talented artists as well as gamers creating projects in open source communities such as three.js, Aframe and p5.js to name a few. We are already working with two artist duo’s and welcome more teams as this type of artwork requires a lot of expertise to pull off.
With the first three artworks put forth into the world by the founders through OLTA, what edge do you have as both developers and designers when it comes to managing OLTA as an NFT platform?
Being artists and coders, we approach platform features with the critical eye on how useful the feature is for artists as well as how creatively they could use it. The artists on Olta have backgrounds in developing websites, games, software tools, AR or VR experiences. We have been working on projects like these for 26 years collectively. We know that creative coders like to experiment, iterate, learn and push themselves with their artworks. Knowing this gives us the insight to what scope of flexibility we need to offer with platform features and tools. We have weekly community hangouts and ongoing conversations with Olta artists. We understand the technical requirements it takes to make interactive art.
Wave – 3D Interactive NFT / Artist – Terence Reilly
Athrú – 3D Interactive NFT / Artist – Terence Reilly
Generative Tree – Interactive NFT / Artist – Recur
Please extrapolate on your statement of how participation can add value to NFTs through OLTA?
Participation in an artwork invites the viewer to play and explore the boundaries of the work. They are dynamic and feel alive, there is beauty in their temporal states. Through interaction we can gain a deeper insight into the systems and behaviors that emerge from the underlying code. ‘Optical Verlet’ by xvijojo is an artwork which detects your motion. Changes occur based on how it is being viewed or experienced. Ever changing, ever new.
Broadening the scope to an audience engaging with a piece there is value created from sharing and enjoying art together. Having the ability to directly tweak or change a work means the audience has a say. It affects the meaning others take from it. Recording that history also creates a story, participation provenance if you like, around an artwork. That could be quite special when it comes to the cultural value of an art piece.
On a monetary level there is an opportunity with NFT’s to do away with the advertising economies that are prolific on social media platforms. With Olta specifically value is created in two ways: the artist making the work and then the audience viewing the work. By interacting with the art in a particular way, capturing specific moments, or adding their own insights, audiences can add cultural value. NFT’s allow for those contributions to be owned and traded. Meaning that audiences that participate in the works have the opportunity to be compensated if their contribution is valued in a monetary way by others.
Optical Verlet – Motion Detection NFT / Artist – xvijojo
What sort of visions do you have for NFTs in the distant future? Do you believe they could be tangible in a metaphysical way? Should we keep our eyes open for OLTA to elevate even further?
Our main vision is to support new types of art that can be created and so that artists can sustain themselves through the works. Art made with code can harness the web having nuanced results that involve the audience. We like to think we’re carving out a place for people to have beautiful experiences.
There seems to be a dire need to bring the outside world into our siloed digital lives. Code as a medium can do that. We have to find a way to create profound relations with the phenomena and complex systems around us. Digital art can help with that. Artworks like these let us connect in a deeper sense to the ideas of science in an approachable and speculative manner. There is a rift between culture and the sciences that we think is worth building a bridge between.
We hope Olta can be a place for artists to push the boundaries with immersive art. We are just excited to support them.
Visit OLTA to interact with NFT’s
Optical Particles – 3D Interactive NFT / Artist – xvijojo
Chaos Theory – 3D Interactive NFT / Artist – Sim