Jean-Michel Jarre Debuts World's First Social VR-Based Crypto Art Exhibition at SXSW 2021

Cryptopia is a crypto-art music & graphic art project by French musician Jean-Michel Jarre, who launches his first collection tomorrow, March 16.

This first collection is comprised of original music pieces specially composed with a series of B&W stills and three animated video loops based on Jarre’s hugely successful ‘Welcome to the Other Side’ New Year’s Eve VR concert spectacular in Notre-Dame (followed by more than 75 million people worldwide). Jean-Michel Jarre opens his Cryptopia gallery viewing at SXSW 2021's first-ever social VR edition on VRChat, from March 16 to March 20. 

Crypto-art collections and auctions (see definition below*) can usually be found online, or via dedicated VR apps. For the first time, an entire collection of this new form of digital art will be presented in a virtual gallery set in social XR.

The French artist’s collection will be accessible in preview mode inside his virtual gallery and will go on sale after the festival. Jean-Michel Jarre says, “With the ‘Welcome to the Other Side’ virtual concert, I wanted to breathe new life into Notre-Dame’s walls and kick-off the new year with a Live contemporary manifesto from this symbol of strength and world-heritage that binds us together.  With Cryptopia I wanted to capture and celebrate that singular moment in time & space.”

The virtual model of Notre-Dame created together with VRrOOm seemed an obvious depository for Jean-Michel Jarre's new crypto-art collection, building on the not so innocuous analogy between the meaning of a physical crypt - in which sacred items or sepulchres were secretly hidden - and the notions of unique encryption that crypto-tech delivers.

"The notion of original work has by definition a unique and sacred value. It needs to be revived in the digital world. Let's celebrate music and visual creations by safe-guarding them in a digital crypt," shares Jean-Michel Jarre.

Jean-Michel Jarre, who has long been at the forefront of defending copyright of artistic creations, and beyond that, the fair recognition of all artists to live off the fruits of their labor, also believes it is very necessary to disrupt the traditional economies of art. 

He also stands as a precursor of the concept of crypto-art itself: in 1983, Jarre provoked a stir in the music industry by putting up for auction the unique copy of his new studio album Music for Supermarkets, at the Hotel Drouot Auction House in Paris and having the plates destroyed in public in presence of a bailiff. The LP was for a long time one of the most sought-after collectors in history. This was the first attempt to create the notion of value of an original creation in the infinite tech-reproduction era.

“It seems to me essential to rethink the fundamentals of our current systems of value and reward for art, and their social implications,” he says. “NFTs and crypto-art are interesting attempts to pioneer new aesthetics,” he adds. “I am however conscious of the environmental issues linked to the digital and blockchain eco-spheres. I plan to donate a percentage of proceeds from potential sales of my crypto-art to Carbon 180, an environmental NGO, to offset energy and carbon footprint consumed in the process,” Jarre concludes. 

Louis Cacciuttolo, founder of VRrOOm, who created the SXSW 2021 XR edition and teamed with Jean-Michel Jarre to realize his crypto-art exhibition and artworks, says: “Because it is digital, crypto-art can lead to a true democratization of art, and it is natural for Jean-Michel Jarre to contribute to this revolution as part of his constant fight to bring art to the masses through technology.”

Register now to the SXSW 2021 online edition to get your accreditation and access the Jean-Michel Jarre’s “Welcome to the Other Side x Cryptopia” crypto-art presale exhibition on VRChat, available from March 16 to March 20.

Discover Jean-Michel Jarre’s Welcome to the Other Side full SXSW program’s schedule here:
- 6DoF NYE Concert replay: March 18, 5pm CT (PC, PCVR, Quest with link cable)
- NYE After-Party experience: March 16 to March 20 (PCVR, Quest, and PC)
- Cryptopia Gallery: open for viewings March 16 to March 20 (PCVR, Quest, and PC) 

* Digital art is endlessly multipliable without loss of quality. Crypto-art works by adding a unique and indelible signature to a digital file, called “tokenizing” or “minting” it on the blockchain — a technology that acts like a permanent ledger or registry distributed across many computers instead of a central one.

This non-fungible token (aka NFT) represents a value of scarcity for the associated artwork. The token holder can enjoy that value or sell or gift it to someone else, but only those who hold the token can “own” that particular blockchain-signed artwork, even as unsigned copies are free to circulate. The artist retains copyright.

The French composer, performer, producer, visionary, innovator, cultural ambassador Jean-Michel Jarre is recognized worldwide as one of the pioneers of electronic music. His innovative approach to the visual and highly technological staging of electronic music has paved the way for this culture to flourish worldwide through renowned festivals.

His current catalogue, which includes 21 studio albums, has generated sales of more than 85 million albums worldwide. Jarre has also set records in the Guinness Book of Records through the exceptional participation of the public at his concerts in several emblematic sites around the world: 1m Place de la Concorde (1979), 1.3m Houston, Texas (1986), 2.5m Paris-La Défense (1990), 3.5m Moscow (1997). Throughout his career Jarre played some of the most exciting landmarks around the globe: He was the first western musician ever to be invited to perform in post-Mao China, and has also played the likes of the Great Pyramids in Egypt, The Sahara Desert, The Eiffel Tower and the Dead Sea.

In 2017 Jarre was nominated for a prestigious GRAMMY award for his album project Electronica (Pete Townshend, Moby, Air, Armin van Buuren, 3D/ Massive Attack, Hans Zimmer, Edward Snowden, Lang Lang). The highly acclaimed album project turned into a spectacular global live tour, ending with a performance at Coachella. 
Jarre has long been UNESCO's ambassador for education, science and culture, an unconditional defender of the environment and winner of the Stephen Hawking Medal for scientific communication.
JEAN-MICHEL JARRE is synonymous with the legendary as he continues to break new ground with each piece of music and live performance. With technology on the forefront of everything we do, Jarre quotes today as “the most exciting time to make music.”

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