IRL Gating and Minting: The Tyler Hobbs Experience

IRL Gating and Minting: The Tyler Hobbs Experience

All degens are NFT collectors, but not all NFT collectors are degens. When we say “degen”, we mean specifically that type of pre-Web 3.0 enthusiast who gm’s and gn’s their Twitter frens and Discord haunts and apes into more than a few drops per week. The term has come a long way, originally used to point out the degeneracy of taking large and unhedged financial risks into new projects and alternative investments. 

But as it does, the NFT community continues to push the envelope of innovation, no longer content with advances like generative techniques or ever-changing works of art. IRL minting—which requires physical presence at a specific location in order to access an NFT drop—has become en vogue, with numerous events popping up around the world at which a new NFT can be acquired (this is different from a POAP (Proof of Attendance Protocol), which is already popular but used to document and verify attendance as opposed to use attendance as a requisite for access to a new NFT). 

And therein lies the rub. Nearly every single NFT minted so far has been from the comfort of one’s home, likely by an unkempt degen. Such collectors haven’t had to go anywhere to acquire their wares. Intrepid creators, however, are partnering with physical galleries who are trying to preserve the old ways, requiring potential patrons to dress and peruse, or at least appear, in person. Bright Moments is one of a handful of new NFT galleries, with locations in Venice Beach and New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, known best for its boutiques and art scene.


Last week, Tyler Hobbs—of record-breaking generative art Fidenza fame—announced that he has partnered with Bright Moments to offer 100 mint passes to a select group of collectors at a select time and select geographic place, which could be used to later acquire one piece from Tyler’s forthcoming project, Incomplete Control.


In his own words, “Incomplete Control deals heavily with imperfection. I have always been interested in the presence of imperfection in the analog world, and the relative absence of it in the digital world. The forces of chaos and entropy give the natural world a certain warmth, and there are patterns and lessons there that we can use. I like to introduce these elements into the digital world, and Incomplete Control continues that work.”


Determining eligibility for the drop is complex. Ticketing began on October 22 and was distributed as follows: 50 mint passes (deemed “Golden Tokens”, likely in reference to the literal gold that one can acquire after selling a Tyler Hobbs piece) were sold through a Dutch auction that began at 80ETH and ended at 30ETH) and 50 Gold Tokens were reserved to be sold directly by Bright Moments (at 50% of the final auction price), 47 of which were randomly distributed to Fidenza and CryptoCitizen holders, with the remaining 3 mints split between the Bright Moments DAO Treasury and Tyler Hobbs. The actual minting will take place in person on four nights in December at the Bright Moments gallery. 

A few observations: (i) those with (x) the luck or foresight to have acquired a Fidenza early on or (y) those who can buy in today at great cost equally benefit from “Hobbs club” benefits if their names are drawn by virtue of their ownership; (ii) the New York art scene has begun adapting to the world of NFTs by merging digital and IRL experiences to offer something that incorporates features from both worlds; and (iii) most significantly, outside of one’s ability to purchase, gating mints at a specific time and place will mean that many who were able and/or willing will never have the opportunity to engage with the mechanics of the mint due to the centralization of the experience. 

There’s nothing inherently wrong about that, but as the NFT space matures, some will try to chip away at the decentralized and democratic features of “traditional” blockchain minting in order to preserve their own traditions. All this is to say that I, like many others, am sore that I don’t own anything by Tyler Hobbs.

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