[NetBehaviour] arts blockchain and DAOWO

ruth catlow ruth.catlow at furtherfield.org
Sat Nov 25 14:21:33 CET 2017

Dear All,

Firstly, just to say we actually got as far as setting up another 
listserve but are persuaded by all of your arguments that we should keep 
all our conversations together here in one place. Thanks very much to 
all of you for speaking out and explaining what's important. We may be 
inviting a few new people here to join us. We can always come back to 
this question in the future.

Here are my reflections on a couple of weeks of art and culture in 
relation to blockchain.

*Conversations on Netbehaviour *(I currently regard this list as a vital 
and invaluable extension of my conscience.) I am reading avidly the 
conversations here as they combine emerging thought, tech and ethics in 
a very unusual combo. THANK YOU! These are the things I'm noticing and 
meditating on:

- Environmental and energy costs – more on this soon but I have been 
looking at Faircoin – proof of cooperation and I wonder if the 
clear-as-daylight, explicit mapping of environmental harm onto 
crypto-currency trading could provide the impetus for a global move to 
100% renewables and zero carbon emissions.

- It's all about finance and profit and any other story is just an 
excuse or justification – polishing a turd – this is a serious question- 
I am meditating on it.

- Intergenerational disconnects (tone, experience, motivation, needs)

- "Even" Off-Grid art (suggesting that anything off network is second 
class art practice)

- Death and forever (Museums have always given me the creeps with their 
- never throw anything out policies) When I asked BigChainDB what they 
meant by "forever" - they are offering a price to store digital data 
storage forever - they said "as long as we can". :)

- The questions of new religion and rituals

*Conversations at DAOWO event */*Identity Trouble (on the blockchain)*** 
<http://www.daowo.org/#identity-trouble-on-the-blockchain>/–  I regard 
DAOWO as an attempt to bridge practices and people in critical arts and 
entrepreneurial and development cultures FTW.

Thor Karlsson presents Authenteq – a blockchain based identity platform 
that is eminently sensible and useful in a “trustless” world of people 
who want to rent things from others that they don't know, and move 
around freely, free of intermediaries. This rings many alarm bells for a 
room of artists, historians, sociologists and philosophers who value the 
ability to slip between many identities.

Data as the new credit – makes especial sense in the context of 
reputation - Emily Rosamond talks about Reputation Warfare, with the 
example of porn shaming bringing everything into urgent and horrible focus.

With a focus on the Byzantine Generals (the computer science problem 
behind the double spend problem which is solved by bitcoin) Ramon 
Amaro's talks about the logic of war and defence at the heart of 
cryptocultures. I've heard Brett Scott talk about this before too. If a 
cagillion people can interact with your thing, you have to assume that 
at least one of them is trying to destroy it. Ramon is a theorist 
working with the ethics of machine learning and racial bias and I have 
heard him talk before about how surveillance technologies do not see or 
read black bodies. This discussion therefore is about what happens to 
bodies excluded from universal systems of empowerment/control.

I ask a naïve hypothetical question – technologies represent the 
interests and values of those who develop them, so if our global network 
technologies were created and funded by cohorts of that more closely 
matched the ethnic and cultural diversity of everyone in the world, 
would we now be working with a more just and humane globabl technical 

Ramon traced the roots of the algorithm back to Leibnitz and the 
differential equation – the dream of a universal language of mathematics 
that could parse and manipulate difference. He cites this as the root of 
colonialism in western technical cultures. This rhymes with 
conversations we had last year with Gretta and Jampajimpa and Jupurrula 
from the Warnayaka Arts centre as part of Networking the Unseen.

Ed Fornielis an artist who creates huge, dynamic and chaotic Live Action 
Role Plays. I am reminded that for me one of the most problematic of the 
moves in Identity technologies is the move to pin single indentities to 
single bodies. Identity is entirely dynamic and relational.

We make each other what we are. It is a dynamic process.

Horror again as imagine myself pinned like a butterfly forever to my body.

Amit Rai wrote to me this morning in an email “What's the relation 
historically between identity and capital? Branding was an important 
part of the commodification of slaves, the blockchain is an evolution 
from that technology, or at least partly I think. “



Co-founder Co-director


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