True stories: authenticating cultural expression with Indigenous-developed technology

Laava works with IndigiLedger, a technology platform that harnesses the power of blockchain to empower Indigenous Australian people and protect consumers at the same time.
authenticating cultural expression with Indigenous-developed technology

At its core, Laava is about authentication and helping brands tell trusted stories. Those two principles have always been at the heart of the art world – today more than ever, when it’s easy to buy anything from homewares and fashion to phone covers and souvenirs plastered in designs that have been blatantly copied without attribution.

It’s especially so for Australia’s Indigenous artists. The trade in fake Australian Indigenous art and design is estimated at a staggering $200 million a year.

That’s why Laava is excited about our work with IndigiLedger, a technology platform that harnesses the power of #blockchain to empower Indigenous Australian people and protect consumers at the same time. IndigiLedger’s flagship program – which Laava is proud to be part of – uses Laava Smart Fingerprints® as part of an integrated blockchain solution to secure the supply chain of Indigenous Australian souvenir and visual art products from some of Australia’s most renowned Indigenous artists.

IndigiLedger: protecting Indigenous culture

IndigiLedger Founder and Quandamooka man Adam Robinson created IndigiLedger to protect the authentic Indigenous culture and knowledge of his people and other Indigenous nations to ensure it thrives in a digitally connected retail landscape.

“We’re creating a ribbon of trust between the artist and the consumer. This connects new technologies with the world’s oldest living culture. People want to know that the art and design products they buy are authentic and this technology gives them that confidence.”

Adam Robinson, IndigiLedger Founder

That’s where Laava came in. It was a defining moment for both businesses. I was impressed by Adam’s technology vision and his passion for empowering Indigenous communities to take control of their cultural heritage. This was a mission Laava was keen to back on many levels.

Enter Laava and APAC Provenance

The combination of Laava Smart Fngerprints®, IndigiLedger and our APAC Provenance partners creates an unparalleled level of integrated digital and physical brand protection, connected packaging and digital storytelling – using next-generation technologies.

The full strength of the APAC Provenance consortium was brought together in a way never before deployed to protect Indigenous cultural artefacts:

  • Source Certain International brought its scientific provenance verification technology to enable forensic grade provenance assurance, already proven in industries from Gold to Seafood and Horticulture.
  • Gravitas Media contributed its packaging design expertise to add an on-product experience worthy of the art itself.
  • Vechain contributed the underlying blockchain architecture, needed to ensure immutability of the cultural verifications provided by IndigiLedger’s expert team.
  • David Inderias of Fresh Supply Co provided valuable expert support in DLT platform integration and connections with the VeChain team.

IndigiLedger has enjoyed early and consistent support from Queensland University of Technology to deliver business development support and research around the pilot use cases, including artists Chern’ee and Brooke Sutton.

The artists

Laava ID, authenticating cultural expression with Indigenous-developed technology

Chern’ee Sutton is a proud Aboriginal artist and Kalkadoon woman from the Emu Foot Province around the Mount Isa area in North West Queensland. Her works are on display at Buckingham Palace, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Royal Australian Mint, public galleries and private collections. Chern’ee is an Australia Day Ambassador and regularly appears in lists of influential people.

Chern’ee told 7 News Brisbane about the damage and hurt – as well as the significant financial cost – that counterfeits have caused her. Watch the TV news story here.

“It’s heartbreaking when you see your artwork that you’ve worked so hard on and put your heart and soul into being ripped off.”

Chern’ee Sutton, Artist

It’s clear to see that, to Chern’ee, protecting her artwork is important, as is protecting her heritage from counterfeits and fakes. She’s committed to using next-generation technology to make it the norm for consumers to look for an approved mark of trust – and to insist on buying only artworks they know are authentic.

“IndigiLedger is technology enabling the story of our artwork, and the IDs [Laava Smart Fingerprints®] provide customers with confidence that the artwork is authentic.

The results

Chern’ee’s story and passion are also clear in the custom-designed results screen that consumers see when they use their smartphone to scan the Fingerprint attached to her work.

authenticating cultural expression with Indigenous-developed technology

Next gen-tech: next steps

So far, the Laava Smart Fingerprints® appear on jigsaw puzzles that feature Chern’ee’s artwork. The IndigiLedger team is actively seeking further investment to broaden the scope of the project and expand the platform.

We are excited to see what the future holds for all our partners in this program – especially IndigiLedger – and are already imagining a future where First Nations people all over the world are able to benefit economically from their cultural heritage through the use of trust technology.

And of course we at Laava can see the technology going much, much further. We’ve already shared our client and partner success stories, with Laava Smart Fingerprints® appearing on food, wine and spirits, pharmaceuticals, consumer products, personal protective equipment and more… we have plans to use this tech to authenticate products as diverse as jewelry, luxury fashion, manufacturing components, carbon offsets, sustainable seafood and more.

With over 5 million Fingerprints in market right now around the world (and counting) Laava Smart Fingerprints are on target to become The Global Mark of Trust.

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