Aetopoulos and Protocinema present an exhibition by “peers at httpdot.net”, titled blockchain is… / …for nothing, at Aetopoulos, an artist-run space in Athens, Greece. The exhibition consists of newly commissioned works applying blockchain logic to art theories, in particular, the dematerialization of the art object.
In The Dematerialization of Art (1968), Lucy Lippard and John Chandler concluded: “We still do not know how much less “nothing” can be. Has an ultimate zero point been arrived at with black paintings, white paintings, light beams, transparent film, silent concerts, invisible sculpture, or any of the other projects mentioned above? It hardly seems likely.”
blockchain is… / …for nothing looks at the dissonance between the optimistic idea that blockchain may one day make the impossible possible and the lack of any evidence to prove it, so far. The works in the exhibition explore three fundamental aspects of blockchain: cryptographic hash functions, digital signatures and proof-of-work. The timeless conflict between hope and doubt is expressed through a new language, proposing a dialogue between these aspects and aspects of conceptual art.
“peers at httpdot.net” will exhibit five individual projected works, one sound installation, one additional work.
The first projected work, "blockchain is..." , 2019, is a single channel video projection, consisting of sentences containing the phrase "blockchain is", aggregated from more than a thousand web pages. These sentences supply an overview of how people understand, describe and interpret blockchain, which are reminiscent of early attempts to describe the Internet. The sensation of being in this exhibition is that of being physically inside a mind or computer, in a shower of information. An audio work "blockchain will", 2019, features sentences again aggregated from more than a thousand web pages conveying attempts by various people, with various motivations, to define blockchain and express their personal visions and expectations of it.
On the furthest end of the dematerialized artwork spectrum, “nothing”, 2019, is literally nothing, which is digitally signed by the artist. Can blockchain technology make it possible to digitally verify something that does not have a physical existence? "nothing" not only imagines but also proves that nothing is an artwork by the artist. One can check the authenticity of this work by supplying no input to any sha-256 cryptographic hash calculator and comparing the result to the value supplied in the certificate of authenticity and also verify the digital signature through the artist's public key. The certificate reads, "This is to certify that nothing is an original artwork by the artist.”
This exhibition delves into the potential for a new language via blockchain technology and how this discourse may influence art and life. Even with its contradictions, and now, in rapidly shifting global conditions, this important potential arrives at a good time. The evolution of blockchain carries an exciting potential for changing the way we think about the materiality of art, and other possibilities that lay beyond this not-yet-imaginable thinking.
An early version (v0.1) of a text discussing the works and the ideas behind the exhibition as well as the blockchain terminology is available at https://httpdot.net/exh/BlockchainIs-ForNothing/
httpdot.net is a hub for peers of free culture established in 200. The works by peers at httpdot.net rely on the language of contemporary art for speculating on the politics of information technologies. Their works are mainly characterized by the aesthetics of the "multi-", and the "non-.". All works by peers at httpdot.net are free cultural works encouraging everyone to become peers by building on them. Exhibitions (under various pseudonyms) include: “13th Istanbul Biennial: Mom, Am I a Barbarian?”, curated by Fulya Erdemci, Istanbul; “Contemporary art is for artists”, solo exhibition, BOEM*, Vienna, Austria; and “.intuitions_”, solo exhibition, Apartment Project, Berlin, Germany (all in 2013).
New art works by ‘peer at httpdot.net’ commissioned with support from SPOT Contemporary Art Projects, Istanbul.
Special Thanks to: Nadia Gerazouni, Philip Nezer, Hans Ulrich Obrist, The Breeder, Athens; Freya Murray, Alex Eagleton, Stefanos Giannoulis, Michael Hornsby, Annelie Graf, Andreas Angelidakis, Ulya Soley, Haro Cumbusyan, Mert Diner, Angelo Plessas, Elizabeth Baribeau, Orhan "aib" Kavrakoğlu. All embedded systems in the exhibition are programmed by Bager Akbay and released as free/libre and open source software.
Protocinema commissions and presents site-aware art around the world. We produce context-specific projects of the highest artistic quality that are accessible to everyone through public programming. Through art, Protocinema evokes empathy towards an understanding of differences across regions. Founded by Mari Spirito in 2011, Protocinema is a non-profit 501(c)3, free of 'brick and mortar'. Sites vary to respond both to global concerns and changing conditions on the ground.