[NetBehaviour] It Had To Be Done

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Wed Jul 27 23:15:48 CEST 2016

On Tue, 26 Jul 2016, at 09:40 PM, Kath O'Donnell wrote:
> Hi Rob, do you mean that the blockchain art is carried within the
> blockchain itself? or does the blockchain contain a reference to the
> artwork, where it exists externally (online/physical). how large is
> each blockchain piece and can it carry other data than hex(?) numbers.
In MTAA's original, the flashing sign identifies what appear to be
network cable directly linking two Macintosh computers as the "here".
It's a playful response to the question of where the art is in net art.
In my shameless borrowing it's a schematic "block" in an image of the
kind that you get if you google for "blockchain diagram" (see the
"preparatory" folder of the project for ones I didn't use). This is a
slightly more plausible site for some sort of art than a wire, but
only slightly.
The Bitcoin blockchain contains a reference to this particular image (in
the block the image mentions), but not the image itself. There are
various systems that work like this:
You can upload images and other media into the blockchain, although this
is generally frowned upon as "bloat":
Each Bitcoin block at present can store at most 1MB of data. You can put
larger blobs of data into it, split over many transactions in several
blocks, but see above note about "bloat". :-)
You can create references to or upload anything that can be represented
digitally, certainly including text, images, sound and video.
Cryptographic hashing is fun. I put the hash of my genome on the
blockchain to prove that I exist:
putting all 20MB of my genome on there would have been a bad idea for
privacy reasons as well as bloat ones.
There are different blockchains that can store different things
(NameCoin for internet address data, Counterparty for generalised
tokens, Twister for microblogging, Ethereum for programs). There are
also much more efficient ways of storing media and having conversations
that nonetheless play nice with blockchains (IPFS, Storj and Swarm are
all good ways of doing this).
There's surprisingly little art in the blockchain itself as far as I
know. This is a shame as I find it a very interesting environment
technologically and socially, and prime real estate for net art style
play. I'd be very interested to hear about any projects people have
created or seen.
Bonus links to more of my projects and writing on the subject:
- Rob.
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