Search History: How to Blow Up a Blockchain
Galaxy-brain links from the bookmarks folder of Zora Zine contributing editor Blaine O'Neill
1. Innovation Amnesia
As the cards continue to fall in the wake of the FTX-SBF-EA-shit-show and we endure another “crypto winter,” I’m quietly optimistic that people experimenting with DAOs, NFTs, and other practices using decentralized network technology will make better work and more sustainable relationships with less funny money. Nathan Schneider, a professor at CU Boulder’s Media Enterprise Design Lab, argues that “the most salient social affordance crypto presents, rather than the result of any particular technical feature, arises from the amnesia of innovation: that deer-in-the-headlights effect as a new technological paradigm shines brightly enough that people freeze and forget to apply once-stable, and still applicable, social contracts to it.”
If Web3 innovators are serious about building tools to tackle hyper-complex global issues like climate adaptation, transnational democratic structures, and extreme economic inequality, now seems like a good time to double down on those commitments and experiment with potential solutions.
2. Swappable Saliva
Saliva, the first project in artist Lauren McCarthy’s Surrogate Series, is a provocative exploration of the shifting “boundaries of our bodies and DNA.” Through a saliva exchange where she acts as a sample collection center (terms of service included), McCarthy invites us to consider the implications of handing over control of our bodily substances to corporations and government institutions, and the possibility of taking this back into our own hands. A digital representation of each of the artist’s exchanged saliva samples is stored on the blockchain as an NFT. Rest assured, “your saliva will not be used to create weapons.”
3. Max Pain
Earlier this week, Nemesis, the design consultancy helmed by polymaths Emily Segal, Martti Kalliala, and Lucas Mascatello, released “Max Pain”: a compact memorandum designed in collaboration with Richard Turley. Based on the “urban legend-slash-theory from the options market in which certain people are betting on a price to go up and others are betting on it to go down, yet it somehow finds a way to do neither, instead converging on the place where most people’s bets expire worthless, regardless which side they’re on,” the thoughtfully avant PDF reflects on the rollercoaster ride of the past two years. Like in past reports, Nemesis puts a finger on the arrhythmia of cultural value and economic (dis)order.
4. A Protocol for Partying
After launching PartyBid last year to help people team up and buy NFTs collectively, PartyDAO released the “Party Protocol,” primitives for collectivizing different aspects of the Ethereum blockchain with a focus on NFTs. The Party Protocol defines standards for Formation (a group crowdfunding protocol), Coordination (NFT memberships, proposal engines, and voting), and Distribution (claimable assets). Party on!
5. Home vs Owner
Sidsel Meineche Hansen’s art practice spans from sculpture and video to legal contracts and virtual reality, and now blockchains. In her 2022 work home vs owner 3 (£250.000), the artist appropriates a photo gallery slideshow from her North East London apartment’s online real estate listing and mints it as an NFT, setting its price equal to the cost of purchasing her rental home from her landlord: £250,000.
Listen to Sidsel Meineche Hansen in conversation with Reba Maybury here.
6. Cyberfeminism Index
An “INCOMPLETE and ALWAYS IN PROGRESS” compendium of references to “cyberfeminism,” the Cyberfeminism Index, edited by Mindy Seu and designed by Angeline Meitzler, is an impressively researched resource that starts in 1985 with Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto” and ends with Cornelia Sollfrank’s “The Art of Getting Organized: A Different Approach to Old Boys Network.” The book launch is currently touring around the world. Snag an Index.
“Cyberfeminism cannot be reduced to women and technology. Nor is it about the diffusion of feminism through technology. Combining cyber and feminism was meant as an oxymoron or provocation, a critique of the cyberbabes and fembots that stocked the sci-fi landscapes of the 1980s. The term is self-reflexive: technology is not only the subject of cyberfeminism, but its means of transmission. It’s all about feedback.”
7. Heatmaps for Housing Affordability
Considering that software companies are developing tools for landlords to coordinate predatory rent floors in cities all over the world, us non-landlords might need to harness more spatial technologies to resist the increasing impossibility of inhabiting cities. DOMA, a “non-profit platform cooperative envisioned in anticipation of blockchain technology’s broader adoption,” has developed a housing affordability heatmap for Vancouver. The map is part of their global urban research on the major barriers to networked, collective property ownership in cities, which they understand as a prerequisite to equitable housing.
Watch a conversation between Jesse Mckee (221A) and Maxsim Romaniko (DOMA) about the mapping work in Vancouver.
8. Creation Babies
Creation Babies is a mystical minting experience and series of 111 unique digital paintings created by Jared Madere with development and 3D work by Miles Peyton.
There’s no neatly summarizable gimmick at the core of this project. It's as ambiguous, exciting, and impenetrable as its subject matter: bringing something entirely new into existence. The project's description puts it best: “Creation itself becomes the subject of these works as we see a mother figure caught in a frozen moment where she appears to be simultaneously ripping apart musical instruments—energetically transmuting their physical matter into the bodies of newborn babies, AND disassembling the bodies of children to use their material components to construct musical instruments.”
9. A Decentralized Yet Physical Museum
Arkive is a DAO that aims to build the first decentralized physical museum, relying on collective curation rather than centralized gatekeeping to identify, acquire, and exhibit objects of cultural value. The project provokes thought about the history of the museum—while collections often symbolize the colonial prowess or centralized authority of the state or wealth of a particular family (e.g. the British Museum stealing parts of the Parthenon or the Benin Bronzes), this museum aims to demonstrate curatorial power through a democratic and decentralized network of participants. In Web3, who gets to decide what is culturally valuable, and how?
10. Ikonic Fashions
SHOWstudio has teamed up with muse Jazzelle Zanaughtti, known to many by their Instagram @uglyworldwide, to generate ikon-1, a series of 8000 NFTs. SHOWstudio’s Nick Knight invited an assortment of visionary fashion designers and hair, nail, and makeup artists to contribute to the project—in addition to digital assets, many of the artists contributed physical creations that were 3D scanned. Through body scans and digital modeling, Jazzelle—an avant style icon and muse—was transformed into a model avatar ready to be styled with the virtual pieces and looks thousands of times over, aided by algorithms of course.
Of the project, Knight claims: “We’re creating the first NFT with feelings, with emotions, and with a point of view.”