xcircle: The metaverse will be what we make of it

By Martin Haase

Photo: Fritz Beck, Projection: Holger Lippmann

Web3 and Metaverse open up a wide range of possibilities for media. Art is also reinventing itself and conquering the NFT scene with digital pieces. Dr. Annette Doms sees this as a revolution that will transform the way we use the Internet. The art historian is co-founder of xcircle, a virtual art exhibition, and as a consultant educates people about the use of NFTs as well as the risks involved.

Dr. Annette Doms, the media industry is still debating the usefulness of NFTs. What is our current attitude as a society toward this new technology?

I estimate that 80 percent are unaware of what an NFT is. However, some companies are already considering how they can apply NFTs. I am certain that Web3 is coming fast and will replace Web2 in the long run. Sooner or later, we will all connect to a wallet.

What will it take for us to get to that point?

Right now, a lot of education is required to reach the masses. There are many skeptics who believe it's just hype and speculation. But I'm convinced that if you understand the mechanisms, you can see the huge potential of that technology. We are dealing with a revolution, the next technological cycle: Web3 brings new possibilities and changes the way we will use the Internet.

Web3 study - What's in store for the media industry?

Read more about the possibilities of NFTs in our Web3 study.

xcircle: A gallery for digital art

You have a PhD in art history, now you are actively shaping current events with your project xcircle. What is xcircle all about?

xcircle makes digital art spatially tangible. On the one hand, we implement this physically, by means of a classic exhibition in a gallery, where we display the art on monitors, among other things. But since we are now moving in the direction of metaverse, virtual worlds are also playing an increasingly important role. That's why our goal with xcircle is to introduce the traditional art world to the topic of NFT. We accomplish this with a virtual architecture. Interested parties can explore the exhibition online and purchase NFTs.

With xcircle, we also want to create a community, a circle of like-minded people. Our project has only been around since May 2022, but we have discovered a niche with it. The interest is great, the response positive.

»Web3 brings new possibilities and changes the way we will use the internet.«

Dr. Annette Doms, art historian and expert on technology-based art / Photo: Fritz Beck, Projection: Holger Lippmann

Who is part of your community?

First of all, the artists we exhibit and with whom we work very closely. Then there are NFT collectors who discovered us through social media. But also traditional art collectors to whom we offer assistance: What is a wallet for, how do I set it up? How secure is it, how do the transfers work? The technical requirements are currently the biggest obstacle. We do a lot of educational work in this area.

Annette Doms: NFTs influence the media industry

Media outlets are also testing the technology right now. How can media companies use NFTs for themselves?

In the media sector, basically anything can be sold as an NFT. For example, the covers of a magazine. That appeals to a new, technology-savvy target audience, and at the same time provides collectibles. Every time a collectible is then resold, the media companies receive ten percent of the sales proceeds, for example. This can be defined in the smart contract. The blockchain also makes it very easy to show proof of source, especially for press images.

Where is the media industry heading as a result of blockchain or Web3?

The media industry will build a larger network thanks to the new possibilities for knowledge transfer. Readers will also be able to participate actively. For example, archives can be created that a community can contribute to. The knowledge is then very transparent. The blockchain makes this much more efficient than Wikipedia, for example. New payment models are emerging: media can make their content available through a wallet, meaning that certain articles can only be released through a wallet connection. This can be a secure alternative to the existing paywall.

You commented on the Munich NFT May 2022: „Munich can be a leader in NFT." Why do you think that?

Basically, there is an incredibly large community all over Germany, people know each other and meet at events like NFT-May. Here in Munich, there are many forces that also put ideas into action. The artist collective Pepe Arts has sold tickets for its shows as NFTs. There are digital fashion projects for fashion in the metaverse. Or the MetaBrew Society, which sells beer as NFTs and has a brewery in Bayreuth. It ships beer as far as South Korea and Dubai.


The exhibition xcircle makes digital art spatially experienceable, like here the "Vortex" series by Betty Mü. Photo: xcircle/Betty Mü

Royalties und Smart Contracts: Advantages of the blockchain

Skeptics criticize the high power consumption and think that blockchain is redundant. What is the decisive advantage of the technology?

It is the blockchain itself. It is a decentralized data system. Trading is possible more effectively via blockchain. Every transfer is documented. This is interesting for supply chains, documentation or even the certification of physical objects and of identities.

On the web, we don't have to pay extra for a lot of things thanks to advertising. Art and media creators hardly earn anything from it. Can Web3 and blockchain change this?

Royalties, for example, are a game-changer for the entire industry. The big advantage of the blockchain is the smart contract for monetization. It can be used to record all kinds of things, such as licenses, patents, or royalties, i.e. a royalty of ten percent or more, which flows directly into the artist's wallet with each subsequent sale on the secondary market. Artists benefit even more from the decentralized character: Through the peer-to-peer network of new distribution channels such as artblocks, SuperRare, or NiftyGateway, they have the opportunity to contact buyers directly and market themselves. This makes them less dependent on channels like Spotify and other big platforms.

Aren't we in danger of losing ourselves in this new virtual reality?

Despite virtual reality, the link to the analog world will always remain. Our lives are becoming phygital. But the fact that you can actually lose yourself in it is evident, for example, when you play VR table tennis for a longer period of time. After a while, you try to support yourself on the tabletop and fall down. The experience can also be addictive. FOMO is also an issue: Then people buy products they don't even need. But if you put on your VR goggles after a long day at work and chill on the beach in Hawaii, you can enjoy that, too. The Metaverse will be what we make of it.