The blockchain laboratory and debate series for reinventing the arts

This series brings together artists, musicians, technologists, engineers, and theorists to join forces in the interrogation and production of new blockchain technologies. Our focus will be to understand how blockchains might be used to enable a critical, sustainable and empowered culture, that  transcends the emerging hazards and limitations of pure market speculation of cryptoeconomics.


Intended as a temporary laboratory for the creation of a living laboratory, the inaugural workshop in the series takes a pragmatic approach towards building technical and economic capacity in the arts.


As the DAOWO series unfolds each lab will work  across a spectrum of themes and domains of expertise, breaking down  silos and assumptions about what these technologies might mean. The aim is to birth a new set of experimental initiatives which can  reinvent the future of the arts as we know it.

Thu 26 Oct
Reinventing the Art Lab (on the blockchain)

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14.00-17.30 – Workshop devised and hosted by Ruth Catlow and Ben Vickers

19.00-20.30 – Panel discussion with Hito Steyerl, Helen Kaplinsky and Julian Oliver



Does Art need its own blockchain? Can blockchain technologies help create and retain value for artists and arts organisations? If blockchains are transforming all other industries and supply chains, how will it effect the arts? Is this technology at a stage now where we can begin applying it to our everyday processes and practices?

These are just a few of the questions we have been asking ourselves and others over the course of the last year. In the scheduling and convening of this workshop series we invite others to join us as we delve deeper into the pragmatics of applying these questions to specific scenarios.

Designed as a temporary laboratory for the creation of a living laboratory, the inaugural workshop in the series will take a pragmatic approach in mapping out technical and economic capacity for the application of blockchain technologies within the arts.

This workshop will open with an overview of current developments for blockchain application within the arts ecosystem, outlining the key opportunities and challenges. Serving as the background, this will lead into a series of short presentations by practitioners who have invested their time over the past years unpicking the treacherous complexity of the blockchain. Each of these areas will then be built upon through facilitated working groups – with the explicit objective of enabling initiatives to move into a new phase of development.

As the workshop series unfolds, each lab will work across a spectrum of themes and domains of expertise, breaking down silos and assumptions about what blockchain technologies might mean. The aim is to birth a new set of experimental initiatives with each lab, which can contribute towards rethinking and reinventing the future of the arts as we currently know it.



“If art is an alternative currency, its circulation also outlines an operational infrastructure. Could these structures be repossessed to work differently?” – Hito Steyerl

Following the inaugural workshop of the DAOWO series, this panel will seek to establish a public platform for the discussion of opportunities, dangers and complexity inherent in the very idea of applying blockchain technologies to the production and circulation of art.

Exploring both hands on practical applications and the theoretical long term impact of a technology that enables a vast array of unexpected new conditions, under which the artworld and art market may be forced to operate. From fractional ownership, strict provenance models, untraceable financial transactions, autonomous artworks to new fully automated organisational forms – this panel will seek to unravel and interrogate both the banality and the terror of blockchains future impact on the arts.



Hito Steyerl

Hito Steyerl’s films, installations and writings come out of a systemic way of thinking and working, in which artistic production and the theoretical analysis of global social issues are closely linked. Steyerl investigates the interaction and synthesis of technological and artistic imagery, for example, at the level of visual mass culture – and its function within the overall dispositif of technocracy, monetary policy, the abuse of power, and violence.


Helen Kaplinsky

Helen Kaplinsky is a curator and writer based at Res., a collaboratively programmed gallery and workspace in Deptford, South East London, currently working in partnership with nearby University of Goldsmiths. Specialising in collection and archive based projects, the thematics and strategies of her curatorial projects consider property in the age of digital sharing. She has contributed to programmes at Whitechapel Gallery, South London Gallery, Glasgow International Festival, ICA (London), The Photographers Gallery (London), and has ongoing programmes with Tate and FACT (Liverpool).


Julian Oliver

Julian Oliver is a Critical Engineer and artist based in Berlin. Julian has also given numerous workshops and master classes in software art, data forensics, creative hacking, computer networking, counter-surveillance, object-oriented programming for artists, augmented reality, virtual architecture, video-game development, information visualisation and UNIX/Linux worldwide. He is an advocate of Free and Open Source Software and is a supporter of, and contributor to, initiatives that reinforce rights of privacy and anonymity in networked and other technologically-mediated domains. He is the co-author of the Critical Engineering Manifesto and co-founder of Crypto Party in Berlin, who’s shared studio Weise7 hosted the first three crypto-parties worldwide. He is also the co-founder of BLACKLIST, a screening and panel series focused on the primary existential threats of our time.

Thu 23 Nov
Identity Trouble (on the blockchain)

Documentation coming soon…


14.00-17.30 – Workshop devised and hosted by Ruth Catlow and Ben Vickers. With Ramon Amaro, Ed Fornieles, Thor Karlsson & Emily Rosamond

19.00-20.30 – Screening of the documentary My Name is Janez Janša (2012). Introduced by Ruth Catlow and Janez Janša



Identity Trouble (on the blockchain) is the second event in the DAOWO blockchain laboratory and debate series for reinventing the arts.

Identity is considered one of the hardest problems in the blockchain space, as it is here that it really matters how human and machinic systems connect. With the potential to fix and potentially impinge upon the relationship between our subjective sense of self, freedom to use multiple identities and our machine-assigned identities.

These difficulties span personal, social, technical and political domains. From a global perspective, blockchains have begun to be put forward as the most efficient and secure solution for providing identification to refugees and with it, access to basic social infrastructure such as healthcare, voting, financial and legal rights and services. As steps towards both national identity and global identity systems are being accelerated, perhaps most notably in Goal 16 of the UN 20 Global Goals, as being; “By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration”.

These drives sit in tension with fears about the increasing convergence of political and commercial control through identity technologies, tensions between: name and nym; person and persona; privacy, transparency and security; and the interests of the private individual and public citizen. All of which run counter to the proclamation that “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity”.

At the first DAOWO workshop we discovered more about current developments for blockchain application within the arts. At this event we seek to further challenge and reconsider the identity question in the context of the arts-blockchain ecosystem.

This workshop will be opened with a keynote by developer Thor Karlsson who will present Authenteq, an automatic identity verification platform and discuss his company’s approach to design for “trust and transparency in communications and transactions between users”.

This will be followed by a series of provocations by theorists and arts practitioners on cultural identity jamming, dangerous bias in the datasets that inform machine learning, and decentralised reputation management.

Laying foundations for the workshop in which we will work together to develop new stories about a set of characters living in the arts. How they operate and feel differently as the impact of blockchain technologies takes effect on their personal and professional role within the artworld.

Join us to describe what will go wrong? And what might just work?


Screening of the documentary My Name is Janez Janša (2012)

The system of reference of names started to crack … This made me reflect on issues such as identity vs identification, multiplicity vs multiplication, the name as an interface between the private and the public, and the personal name as a brand.” – Janez Janša, Director of My name is Janez Janša

Following the second workshop of the DAOWO series we present this film about names, identity and pseudonymity in a long history of academic, artistic and popular identity play for political and personal reasons. In 2007 three artists changed their names to that of Janez Janša, the then Prime Minister of Slovenia, whilst remaining ambiguous about their reasons. This documentary film reflects on the subjective and public meaning and utility of a person’s name and documents the interpretations and responses provoked by journalists, the general public and the “original” Janez Janša.

The Janez Janša® exhibition is on display at Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Ljubljana

18 October 2017 — 08 February 2018


Workshop Guests

Ramon Amaro

Ramon Amaro is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London; Research Fellow in Digital Culture at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam; and visiting tutor at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. Ramon has worked as a former Assistant Editor for Big Data & Society (SAGE), quality design engineer for General Motors, and programmes manager for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). His research interests include philosophy, machine learning, and black study.


Ed Fornieles

Ed Fornieles is an artist whose works are responsive to the movement of information. Fornieles uses film, social media platforms, sculpture, installation and performance to express the interaction of family, relationships, popular memes, language and the subcultures of 21st century experience. His work operates within the logic of immersive simulations, which construct and enact alternative political and social spaces. His projects often involve cultural, social, and infrastructural production, making interventions that reconfigure the viewer’s position and sense of self.


Thor Karlsson

Thor Karlsson is the lead backend developer at Authenteq, a privacy tool and identity verification platform for online services. With over six years of professional experience in .NET and Java, Thor works in backend systems with an emphasis on clean code, testability and optimization. Thor is currently focused on implementing core backend systems used for the Authenteq ID verification and face recognition platform.


Emily Rosamond

Emily Rosamond is a Canadian artist, writer and educator. She completed her PhD in 2016, as a Commonwealth Scholar in Art at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, and Joint Programme Leader on the BA Fine Art & History of Art. She exhibits individually and with the collective School of The Event Horizon.

Thu 25 Jan 2018
Doing Good (on the blockchain)

More information coming soon…

Fri 16 Feb 2018
Artists Organise (on the blockchain)

Special event with Clubture at Drugo More, Rijeka


More information coming soon…

Thu 22 Feb 2018
The Decentralised Music Society Reforming Music (on the blockchain)

More information coming soon…

Thu 29 Mar 2018
What Will It Be Like When We Buy An Island (on the blockchain)?

More information coming soon…