Martin Zeilinger

On the Conceptual Affordances of Blockchain Art

date: 13 May 2021
tags: blockchain, crypto art, conceptual art, NFTs

Invited lecture at the 2nd Uroboros Festival, broadcast from the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague.

This talk will take place at 18:30 CET (17:30 BST) on 13 May 2021. Attendance is free but registration is required.

What is the critical potential of financial technologies as an artistic medium? Against the backdrop of unending speculative hype around ‘the blockchain’ and its promises of ‘radical disruption,’ absolute ‘trustlessness,’ and incorruptible cryptographic security (not to mention immeasurable wealth!), this talk explores critical stances of artistic experiments that push beyond blockchain-as-financial-technology. Reaching back towards some of the failures of dematerialized, contract-based Conceptual Art, and forwards to the realm of blockchain-based smart contracts and the ongoing NFT (non-fungible token) craze, the aim here is to sketch a crypto art that is of the blockchain (rather than merely on it), and which interfaces critically with ‘fintech’ tendencies to financialize and hypercommodify creative practice. How, where, and to what ends can such a crypto art manifest? What are its conceptual affordances when it engages the blockchain beyond the creation of artificially scarce digital assets, to align it instead with emerging social technologies that espouse new, radical politics of inclusivity, diversity, and power distribution?

The whole festival program looks amazing, be sure to check it out.

I will update this page with video documentation when it becomes available.