It's a bit hard to keep up with all the threads here.
So hello Rob, Edward, Alan, Pall, Gretta, and all,

On 31/10/17 17:45, Rob Myers wrote:
On which subject this is a very interesting book -


"On the Existence of Digital Objects", 2016 • Author: Yuk Hui

"Hui’s work develops an original, productive way of thinking about the data and metadata that increasingly define our world."
Thanks for the reminder to look in those strange places where all the "real" action is taking place :/
MIT has a "Center for Bits and Atoms". Information requires a substrate
and will not outlive the heat death of the universe. There's a degree of
"so what?" to this - while there is energy left in the universe we can
move information to another substrate. Digital information doesn't care
what its substrate is. Which makes substrates sad. But information does
care that it has a substrate. There's a degree of nervousness to
information's nonchalance about this. That's why it has to exist in
three places at once...
Okay, playing along with this OOO based exchange (which feels pretty risky - and generally not to be encouraged;) surely digital information does care about its substrate - at least for its conductive, resistive qualities and for its longevity and portability to human and social systems.

Whenever I hear "Center for Bits and Atoms" I always want to imagine a
"Center for Bits and Atoms and Pennies", which adds the problem of
paying for all that substrate to the mix. 
Yes, and this is what I was trying to get at with my vulgar quotes that insist on accounting for money. I wonder if my long-standing artistic urge to assert the autonomy of art (free from the money substrate) connects with a wider tendency to wish for autonomy (a lack of accounting) from the environmental substrate.

I especially like Julian Oliver’s Harvest and Max Dovey's Respiration both new blockchain artworks for tying together art, wind/breath, electricity, money and ethics.

This is also something that Gretta has given a lot of attention to in her brilliant work with Networking the Unseen - remembering that digital networks have physical (and political) infrastructures

But that would be even meaner
than reminding bits that they are tied to atoms (or their components)
and, well, information just wants to be free*...
Hah! Please can someone write a history of the trouble caused, as the network society emerges, by the double meaning of the word "free"
On Sun, 29 Oct 2017, at 04:59 AM, Alan Sondheim wrote:

Thanks, and exactly; we've got to consider the ontology of the digital, 
an issue which has been a problem for people for decades; it's tied to 
issues of reproducibility, originality, equivalence, etc.

- Best, Alan

On Sat, 28 Oct 2017, Pall Thayer via NetBehaviour wrote:

This is a great read. Now I want someone to explain to me how a non-material
(non-existent) work of art maintains its immateriality (its non-existence)
despite a record in the blockchain. Personally, I think we have to start
admitting to ourselves that digital existence is material. Especially if its
existence is recorded within a distributed network. It exists. We may not be
able to cradle it in our hands but its existence is broadly verifiable.
Doesn't that change things?

On Fri, Oct 27, 2017 at 10:32 PM Alan Sondheim <sondheim@panix.com> wrote:

      The following (which may be difficult to follow in ascii?) is a
      between Ruth and myself; Ruth asked that I send to the list.
      Oddly, given
      ascii, it's not clear that I wrote first (in response in
      response etc.) -

      "Hi Ruth, I'll intersperse some comments, and thank you so much
      writing back and so much to think about! We're still away,
      staying for an
      extra day (next Sunday) and trying to decompress..."

      is mine -

      On Mon, Oct 23, 2017 at 10:32 AM, ruth catlow
      <ruth.catlow@furtherfield.org> wrote:

      ? ? ?Dear Alan,

      ? ? ?Ihesitate to bring up issues here which themselves are
      but here goes.

      ? ? ?Ifor one am very appreciative of your thoughts here. I am
      for our first DAOWO workshop on Thursday and this is very very

      This is really fascinating! I do find a problem with "Does Art
      need its
      own blockchain?" - "art" needs nothing (can't get rid of the
      apologies); perhaps people do, but then which people? and what

      ? ? ?First, to the extent that art is a Foucauldian discursive
      (at least as I taught it at RISD in the 70s), labor, in the form
      reading/ writing/conversation/declamation/discourse is involved.

      ? ? ?With blockchain art the financial formulation of the work - its
      its relationship to, and operation within the markets over time
      - becomes
      another element of its expressive form/ part of the discourse.

      I think this held with a lot of conceptual art as well, what
      artists were
      on about around the time of Piper/Siegelaub texts.

      ? ? ?Second, at least again at that point, there was a tendency to
      associate the value of a work in relation to the labor necessary
      produce it; in other words, an artist would be paid according to
      the labor
      she put into the creation of a work, real or invisible,
      substantial or

      ? ? ?(I remember Adrian Piper talking with us about this, but I may be
      mistaken; this was early in her career.)

      ? ? ?Artistic labour is still discussed in this way by public funders,
      publicly funded arts organisations in the UK

      I think there might be a difference, not sure. In the States, it
      was a
      form of identification with manual labor, that one should be
      paid for what
      one does. This attempted even then to break the inflationary
      spiral which
      is now of course out of control.

      ? ? ?Other than that I dont see how this can possibly still hold true
      it ever did). The financial value of an artwork by an art star
      correlates to either the effort or time invested in its
      production. Unless
      we are talking about more craft-oriented work.

      The idea was a form of levelling in relation to art-stardom.
      Anyone who
      was on the way to success, I think, ran from the idea.

      ? ? ?Im not sure at exactly what point in history this occurred or
      it was always thus. Or whether being (barely) remunerated for
      'labour' has
      just become a way to keep all artworkers on the bread line.

      In the States, artists are always statistically on the
      breadline; maybe 1%
      can support themselves by their work. Paying for labour means
      payment for
      all cultural workers. It never took hold of course. -

      ? ? ?And third, there was within conceptual a discourse of the
      invisible or
      non-existent work, vide for example Lucy Lippard's The

      ? ? ?There was of course a heavy critique from Haacke and others of
      commercialization of art (also of course in music, tv (Radical

      ? ? ?Ilove a lot of Haackes work and also of the Radical Software
      But they were successful in generating cultural capital for
      themselves -
      through their expressive disdain for the commercialization of

      For me that doesn't invalidate the work at all; I never expect
      purity of
      intent and production from anyone to be honest. I think even
      Kruger (who I really loved) made some money from her work. And
      with all of
      these people, there were long periods at the beginning when they
      little or nothing. For that matter the Guerilla Girls aren't
      wealthy after
      all these years (I know one of them) . -

      ? ? ?Ikeep thinking about the hundreds of young artists and art
      that I meet in London who are attempting to make meaningful work
      and to
      pull themselves up into a decent world (and artworld) by their
      Should they work, as Annie suggested, from their sense of
      personal quest -
      perhaps it's none of my business, but I have been questioning my
      own sense
      of how we can proceed in relation to THESE QUOTES HERE

      ? ? ?Like Western civilisation, autonomous art? an art that is not a
      to an end, not instrumental - would be a really nice idea If art
      is an
      alternative currency, its circulation also outlines an
      infrastructure. Could these structures be repossessed to work
      - Hito Steyerl talking about Duty Free Art

      ? ? ?"Noble people don't do things for the money they simply have
      money and
      that's what allows them to be noble. They sprout benevolent acts
      like they
      sprout trees" - from Hagseed by Margaret Atwood

      ? ? ?"It was hard to identify with the characters. They live in an
      vacuum. They make decisions cos they are in love, or they are
      angry or
      they want adventure. You don't know how they afford their
      houses, they
      never decide not to do something because it costs too much. You
      never find
      out how much these characters pay in taxes." Willing, on
      pre-financial-crash in The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 by

      The artworld now is very very different from Atwood, traditional
      artschools, etc.; everything was changed of course by the
      'revolution' which we hardly understand. What bothers me about
      the quotes
      is all of them are based in economics; where would for example
      Schneeman fit into this? Where is a resistance to capital? With
      it has to be capital resisting capital which for a lot of people
      already tarnishing, a capitulation. I've been thinking about
      Kathy Acker
      recently because of the biography which came out and the video
      we did
      together; it's becoming an underground 'hit' and I think two
      interconnected reasons are that it's based on the body and the
      confrontation with the body, which isn't prettified, and also
      because it's
      fundamentally feminist thanks to Kathy (in a documentary made
      about her,
      young girls even now talk about their identification with her).
      I think
      work liked this would either have to be economically "valued" or
      out of blockchain... I may be way mistaken about all of this,
      but it seems
      to me this is why a critique of blockchain within blockchain - a
      fundamental critique - is so necessary. I think of comfortable
      Marx in the
      British Library, writing from within, muddying the capitalist
      producing brilliant analysis at the time (although even he
      couldn't see
      the coming digital revolution of course).

      ? ? ?So the value of the non-existent work here might well be based on
      discourse; one can imagine a work which is not being discussed
      blockchained, which no one knows about, possessing a labor value
      close to
      the null set itself.

      ? ? ?Iwasnt going to tell you but I have made a trillion of these

      That's interesting! That's also critique right there, that
      of certain kinds of works, conceptualized works, can
      economically! I love this; on the other hand I also love the
      Altarpiece, no matter what it's economic value is; it disturbs
      me in a way
      that invades me, maybe the difference between Godel's work and
      platonism which still found substance outside the matrix of his

      ? ? ?For me, what's new in the work being discussed here is its
      relation to
      blockchain, and this places it within economic strata and
      habitus that
      makes me uncomfortable. Not that that matters at all, but the
      point is the
      embracing of invisibility and non-existence in relation to
      blockchain and
      (economic) value, doesn't this also relate problematically to
      neoliberalism? If one is going to work in this direction, is it
      to consider breaking the chains of blockchain (in a way somewhat
      to breaking the chains of the male domination of the artworld,
      Guerilla Girls etc.)?

      ? ? ? I think we are now in a very different moment. I am currently
      entertaining the idea that the tactics and techniques for
      breaking chains
      may need evolve to incorporate more critical finance-play and


      ? ? ?Iparticularly like the invisibility form, less because of its
      eschewal of value associated with art objects, but more because
      it rhymes
      with the invisibility of the electromagnetic waves, currents and
      through which our digital exchanges are taking place.

      Then you have to look at Barry, who did precisely that, I think.
      But of
      course waves/current/fields are also commensurate, not only with
      particles, but also with the constituents, 'things,' of the
      universe. I've
      worked a lot with VLF radio, very low frequency radio, and those
      are out there!

      NetBehaviour mailing list

P Thayer, Artist

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