edited by Ruth Catlow, Marc Garrett, Nathan Jones, and Sam Skinner – Artists Re:thinking the Blockchain


Liverpool University Press, ISBN-13: 978-0993248740, English, 344 pages, 2017, UK

For many an obscure and ungraspable technology, but still one of the most promising to have a very relevant impact on the real world (again), blockchain is often discussed, and even more often questioned. Blockchain, simplistically, is a ‘distributed trust platform’, whose unchangeability has a lot of economic potential for fragile/ever changeable digital content, and not by accident is it the technology behind the Bitcoin databases and exchanges. But despite the huge interest openly expressed by the financial industry, blockchain has an abstracted infrastructure that can potentially have a decisive impact on social and cultural sectors, too. The Furtherfield group in London has dedicated considerable effort to investigating the various cultural aspects of blockchain through the production of an exhibition (New World Order), a film by Pete Gomez (“The Blockchain: Change Everything Forever) and this thick, collective book. With a diverse list of writers per issue, it is divided into three sections: Documents, Fictions and Theories, respectively hosting explanative, narrative and speculative texts. Among the contributors to the latter, Hito Steyerl elaborates on art as an alternative currency itself, while Rachel O’Dwyer outlines a systematic analysis of upcoming system structures based on blockchain, and Rob Myers points out the strategic importance and then use of trust and ‘network consensus’. Beyond them a significant number of contributors have been involved and altogether they have produced a remarkable work.

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