An Interdisciplinary Ensemble
The MakerSpace at ETHDenver 2019
For a second year in a row Jessica Angel, Truebit, and the #Artproject Decentralized communities with the support of the Foundation of Art and Blockchain and the Codex Protocol, gathered a group of artists, developers, and hardware engineers. Together, we took over the top floor of the Sports Castle during the 36 hour hackathon, to celebrate the intersection between blockchain and creative matters. I was thrilled to, once again, bring my vision and direction to this experiment that combines education, art, and computer science, to explore blockchain through the lens of creativity.
The MakerSpace featured a series of talks, workshops, performances, and art installations, bringing to ETHDenver a breath of fresh, fun, and creative air.
It was energizing to see a solid group of participants from last year’s MakerSpace coming back with newer and refined versions of what they built with us in the past, making of this version of the MakerSpace a coherent experience, shedding light on the future of this effort as a collaboration with committed and passionate participants.
A Truebit meetup during the #BuidlWeek
Truebit was invited to participate in the ETHDenver #BuidlWeek, taking place the week prior the hackathon, to engage the Colorado community with the projects presenting at the MakerSpace. We started the meetup by describing the reasons why Truebit is interested in exploring creative ways of hacking. We believe in the freedom of experimentation and we encourage programmers to find ingenious ways of solving difficult problems.
The meetup featured talks by Jason Teutsch with an intro to Truebit and artDAOs, I spoke about about creativity in the blockchain space, Andres Angel from BKDF made a presentation on the importance of UX/UI in Web3, and Océane Boulais, MIT graduate student and former MakerSpace participant, described her experience in 2018 and her vision for this year’s round of experiments.
The MakerSpace Base Layer
In preparation for the influx of curious minds wondering and creating on top of the MakerSpace, BKDF member Andres Angel, Truebit members Jessica Angel and Karen Teutsch, and hardware and software engineers Océane Boulais and Daniel Marques, spent long nights setting up the whole space as an installation piece with murals, floor designs, and sculptural elements that would serve as the creative home for the experiments brought by the participants. Big shoutout to these individuals for restlessly working to adapt the space and laying the ground-base for the action to come.
Exploring artDAOs with the Truebit Team
Our very own Jason Teutsch, took over the stage to talk about creating artDAOs using Truebit. His in-depth presentation described how Truebit’s computational boost allows for such autonomous, creative entities to exist using our technology. Truebit developer Harley Swick complemented in a few words, that “Ethereum’s gas limit restricts computation via smart contracts on the blockchain. Using the power of Truebit hackers are able to integrate image processing (or other programs) into their decentralized ideas to make autonomous art generators. With Truebit, more compute cycles allow for more complex art to be created.”
A Hardware Paradise
Océane Boulais leading workshops and mentoring programs
After her outstanding participation at ETHDenver MakerSpace 2018 Océane Boulais returned this year to play a leading and mentorship role, helping organize the program and rallying the community around our joint effort.
She took over the MakerSpace podium and directed a workshop that presented an array of possibilities to connect blockchain data to Arduinos and RaspberryPis to visualize transactions in the form of LED lights, neopixels, and numerous hardware pieces. During our #BuidlWeek meetup Océane engaged with attendees, (mainly Evan Trumbull and Harrison R. Stahl, big shoutout!) who generously provided hardware to lend it to hackers curious to play in the MakerSpace.
Additionally, Océane brought to the space a fun geodesic dome that served as a hub for ideation, relaxation, and discussion around the ideas to develop at the MakerSpace, and she even conducted a yoga session!
This thriving group that supports artists through their platform for tokenized digital art, brought an Art Contest to the MakerSpace to celebrate ETHDenver’s mascot, the Bufficorn. The top bufficorns were featured in an interactive digital art gallery that exhibited both moving and static images. The audience was able to “like” and bid on their favorites pieces.
Learn more about SuperRare’s contribution to the space HERE
Iain Nash and Evan Trumbull
Iain Nash and Evan Trumbull joined the MakerSpace from beginning to end. It was encouraging to see them test different initiatives and quickly overcoming failed attempts, to finally finding their north utilizing the hardware provided by the generous members of the Ethereum Community. The team submitted the EthASketch project for the bounties at ETHDenver and made it to finalists round. KUDOS!
With EthASketch you can draw collaboratively online and have your sketches made in real life by an online streamed plotter that was assembled by Iain and Evan at the MakerSpace. They put together a simple retro-looking interface that imposed creative restrictions (like an etch-a-sketch) pushing participants to be creative with a level playing field of just submitting sketches to the blockchain.
A Feedback Loop of Decaying Visual Data
It is important for us to engage with locals, and bring them to the hackathon exposing them to the wonders of the blockchain space. Denver based visual artist Chris Bagley, joined us for a second time to delight our audience with some fantastic visuals that makes one think of the digital world of data as an organic, decaying, painterly flow.
My experience with Chris’ pieces and his contribution to the MakerSpace, reveal that the blockchain space is a good fit for his years long research on video feedback loops. Chris mentions that each feedback loop carries in itself the data from the loop before, creating a chain of complex interconnected repetition, serving as an analogy for him to make sense of the structure of a blockchain as a data feedback loop.
The video piece was installed in one of the rooms of the MakerSpace. A chair, and some of the wallpapering pieces were placed against the wall. The piece allowed for people to sit in the chair and enter the feedback loop, creating an interior digital landscape projected on the wall.
Brady took over the stage for a second year, this time jamming around ideas about censorship, free speech, suppression of creativity, and collaboration. The different talks taking place at the space influenced Brady’s creative direction, his performance started integrating the concept of artDAOs as these ideas evolved. We look forward to seeing how this plays out in the future and perhaps next year experience and experiment with some artDAO integration to his performance.
In addition, Brady opened the stage for participants to play with him and improvise in many different ways. ETHDenver attendees just jumped right up to jam with Brady, including the very own Bufficorn himself!
The Garden of Ethereum
Kelly LeValley Hunt
Last year a wall at the MakeSpace was hijacked by a passionate leading force in the tech space who happened to love art. We were surprised and absolutely thrilled to have Kelly LeValley Hunt show up again, coming up to the sixth floor determined to own again a piece of the MakerSpace. What a pleasant surprise!
In her own words Kelly describes her contribution to our collective jam:
“The idea of the Garden of Ethereum is based on the concept that the Ethereum ecosystem is growing into a self sustaining, decentralized future, and every time we complete a line of code it contributes to this decentralized Paradise. The result is that one day we will have a flourishing ecosystem with many cryptocurrencies evolving so that we can use them when and where we need to.
The Garden of Ethereum at ETHDenver was built to give developers a place to clear their mind with bird songs and soft light but also to give the physical representation that when a developer plants a seed it grows. The garden featured crypto currencies in blossom signifying the start of crypto spring, birdsong signifying the start of something new, and soft light signifying dawn. The plants growing in the room represented a jungle of code like a rainforest where there is no center, just a complementary network of growth. Many lovely thanks to the contributors: Leona Gomez, “Vegas” aka: Alex A., Elizabeth “Boo” Lunt, and Jason Gegere. Plus a big thank you to The Geniuses of LED Lights Iain Nash and Océane Boulais”
By Anastasia Mackert
As attendees went up and down exploring the space, we came across Artist and lawyer Anastasia Mackert, who had been working on an impressive piece that we are happy to feature here. She joined the MakerSpace to find a place for relaxation and enjoyment, what she found was a group of people engaging with her work and opening a dialogue around the ideas she proposed with her Unstoppable Bufficorn. One of those happy encounters.
Anastasia designed this digital piece inspired by Andreas M. Antonopoulos’s keynote speech on unstoppable code. This bufficorn illustrates the commonalities and connectedness of every contributor in the Ethereum community through its many linked data points.
Erick Pinos from Blockchain Education Network gave a presentation on visualizing blockchains. Block explorers output a lot of raw data that creatives can then mold into chart and graphs. Blockchain data can also be bridged into the physical world with lights, sounds, and motors representing cryptocurrency transactions and balances. At the end of the workshop, Erick led a brainstorming session for the hackers to come up with their own ideas for visually representing blockchain data.
By Océane Boulais, Erick Pinos, and Nick Ward
Nick Ward from Apprentio.io brought a group of teens interested in learning about blockchain up to the MakerSpace to explore the basic concepts of immutability and decentralization in an artistic way. His intention was to inspire some future blockchain enthusiasts and get the students introduced to the intersection of art and blockchain. Océane Boulais, Erick Pinos and Nick Ward, led the workshop using large cardboard boxes that resembled blocks to do a hands on activity that involves sculptural and painting processes.
Also known as OpticTopic, Rich Beer joined us for a second time to support the MakerSpace in different ways; From assisting with lighting, sound, and video equipment set-up, to documenting the entire hackathon with his incredible photography skills. We were thrilled to share with Rich again, and we look forward to having him boost the MakerSpace in the future with his technical skills.
Find Richard’s Photographs of the event HERE
A Celebration of the Creative Ethereum Community
The MakerSpace was a magnet attracting ETHDenver participants working on projects around the hackathon whose hearts are artistic and whose spirits are wild and free. Kelly LaValle Hunt is a perfect example, as well as Jacob Lill, who was working in the press room and ended up contributing to the MakerSpace by DJing on Saturday night. His music allowed for an organic party to emerge in celebration of the Ethereum Community (and the unexpected B-day gathering around the wonderful Simona Pop from Bounties Network). People from all over the hackathon danced, jammed, and even created art all over the floor.
Jacob, also known as DJ Rumpus, is an entrepreneur, artist and programer. He has played in several shows and expressed to me that he “…never experienced the massive energy that took place Saturday night when MakerSpace, #ArtProject Decentralized, the Blockchain Education Network, Truebit, Crypto Finally and Brady McKenna collaborated to put together a night I’ll never forget. The support, love, ingenuity and creativity that freely flowed through the MakerSpace was truly something special!”
To the ETHDenver Stewards
As a growing endeavor and an impressive event, ETHDenver 2019 proved wrong any suspicions of a discouraged community affected by the market conditions. Stewards threw a killer hackathon preceded by the #BuidlWeek, 5 days of talks and workshops that merged seamlessly into the 36 hour hackathon, to beautifully end in a mountain retreat at Breckenridge.
We are highly impressed with the organizational level of this team, the ambitious nature of this endeavor, and we are thankful for the amazing space and quality treatment they gave us. Thanks for allowing us to conduct our unconventional experiments!
#ManyThanks #MuchWow #SoImpressed
A big and warm thank you to everyone who contributed in any capacity to this joyous event!
*This year’s ETHDenver MakerSpace was made possible by Truebit, the Codex Protocol, ETHDenver, Pixura, the MIT Media Lab, #ArtProject Decentralized, and the support of the Ethereum community.