Martin Zeilinger

ISEA 2023 panel co-organised by Joseph DeLappe and Laura Leuzzi

Conference presentation
[posted: 20 May 2023]
>>tags: AI art, hyperobjects, anthropocene, global warming, digital art

If you’re in Paris for ISAE 2023, come by the panel on digital art and activism co-organised by Joseph DeLappe and Laura Leuzzi. I’ll be speaking about ‘Activist Art on/of the Blockchain.’

Here’s my paper abstract:

“This contribution explores activist uses of blockchain technologies by digital artists. The blockchain has a powerful legacy as a financial technology (DuPont 2019), which may prove difficult to overcome. On this basis, some have felt compelled to issue blanket rejections of the blockchain (e.g., Pipkin 2021). But others choose to engage critically and tactically with this technology, to delimit the usefulness of decentralised computation for activist purposes (e.g., Catlow et al 2017). The result is a vibrant landscape of critical art experiments on/of the blockchain. In this paper, I explore two approaches for achieving this.

The first approach mobilises the hype around tokenisation and NFT art, to undermine the use of blockchain technologies as hyper financialised transactional systems. Exemplary ongoing projects include forkonomy() by Winnie Soon and Lee Tzu Tung and the Balot NFT project, which problematise issues of private ownership from a decolonial perspective. The second approach concerns the development of blockchain-enabled DAOs (decentralised autonomous organisations) as radically new organisational infrastructures that foreground horizontal participation, mutual aid, and collective decision-making. DAOs have been described as “operationalised artist manifestos” (Rafferty and Catlow 2022), and include examples linked to climate justice (KlimaDAO) and to the redistribution of resources in artist communities (Black Swan DAO).

These examples will be set against a broader discussion of the tactical potential of blockchain technologies in activist contexts, for example linked to the counter-capitalist work of the ‘Economic Space Agency’ (ECSA) and the emerging ‘exit-to-community’ movement (Schneider et al 2020).”