Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain

A book review

In recent weeks I have found myself boring everyone I meet, in blockchain, art, both or neither, spreading the word about Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain.

Like any technology which promises to revolutionise and disrupt the status quo, coverage of ‘Blockchain’ is divisive. From promises of a panacea to ponzi-scheme proclamations it is increasingly difficult to critically assess the technology and its potential implications. Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain is an alternative access point to the technology. One which I read as neither a promotion nor a criticism of the technology but rather a collection of critical assessments helping us to disseminate, disect and digest the possibilities of the blockchain.

Artists Re:Thinking The Blockchain

The book presents documentation of artworks, new fictions, illustrations and poetry, and theorisation focused on the blockchain from an impressive array of contributors. The book itself forms part of a project in partnership with Design Informatics at University of Edinburgh which opens up new ways of thinking about the assignment of cultural and financial value. Each chapter is assigned a QR code which links the reader to the Finbook interface. Users can assign relative values to each chapter and bots trade each chapter’s portfolio created in accordance with the values of the chapter as determined by Natural Language Processing.

Accessible and thoughtful works bring the blockchain to life for those looking to learn more about it. For those already involved, it opens up new avenues of thought and critical reflections. The book is a refreshing break from “a guide to investing in ICOs”. Most importantly, at this nascent stage of development, Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain encourages analytical and evaluative discourse of what blockchain is and what it might mean for us all.

Available here.

Edited by Ruth Catlow, Marc Garrett, Nathan Jones and Sam Skinner.

Contributors: Contributors: César Escudero Andaluz, Jaya Klara Brekke, Theodoros Chiotis, Ami Clarke, Simon Denny, The Design Informatics Research Centre (Edinburgh), Max Dovey, Mat Dryhurst, Primavera De Filippi, Peter Gomes, Elias Haase, Juhee Hahm, Max Hampshire, Kimberley ter Heerdt, Holly Herndon, Helen Kaplinsky, Paul Kolling, Elli Kuruş, Nikki Loef, Bjørn Magnhildøen, Rob Myers, Martín Nadal, Rachel O’Dwyer, Edward Picot, Paul Seidler, Hito Steyerl, Surfatial, Lina Theodorou, Pablo Velasco, Ben Vickers, Mark Waugh, Cecilia Wee, and Martin Zeilinger.

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