The blockchain laboratory and debate series for reinventing the arts

Download the DAOWO Resource #1 for key learnings, summaries of presentations, quotes, photographs, visualisations, stories and links to videos, audio recordings and much more from our first two DAOWO events.


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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Click here for images from the workshop

Read the blog post by Lucy Sollitt here


Workshop devised and hosted by Ruth Catlow and Ben Vickers

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)

Listen to presentations from the Identity Trouble event here

Read the blog post on the event written by Emily Rosamond here


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

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)

Documentation coming soon…


Presentations by Kei Kreutler, Sarah Meiklejohn, Laura Wallis, Jaya Klara Brekke


Doing Good (on the blockchain) is the third event in the DAOWO blockchain laboratory and debate series for reinventing the arts.

In previous workshops we have probed ideas focusing on developments for blockchain application in the arts and the role of identity within the blockchain ecosystem.

Citizen groups that engage in activism and ‘doing good’ are generally structured around informal economies which rely on a certain degree of flexibility, improvisation and indeterminacy of activity. The introduction of technical systems can have a flattening effect that removes all contingency from a system. It sets distinct rules under which an activity or exchange can take place. These rules however can be somewhat opaque, shaped by the affordances of technologies rather than the needs of its users. This event aims to examine what is at stake in the formalisation of ‘doing good’ under blockchain systems for decentralised trust. We will look at how informal systems (e.g. for organising migration from war zones to stable territories) are forced into a formalised rule based structure, while formal systems for public good (eg distribution of social welfare) may exacerbate issues of both exclusion and monitoring.  We consider design for contingency, and identify what must be left out.



The Right Systems For The Job?

Sarah Meiklejohn will set the scene sharing her research into developments in systems of decentralised trust, openness and visibility in finance, supply chains, and managing personal data.


This will be followed by 3 provocations that will inform discussion and debate:

Increased Engagement & Resisting De-facto Centralisation

Jaya Klara Brekke on the affordances of Faircoin blockchain technology, exploring its use as a redistribution of what is possible, and for who – extending and reconfiguring spaces and modes of politics.


Incentives for Participation

Laura Willis, on the work of Citizen Me – a platform that promotes the understanding of the value of personal data through notions of citizenship.


Behaviour under Transparency

Kei Kreutler (Gnosis) on blockchain’s potential ability to encode and incentivize social behavior, both on- and off-chain, and designing for unforeseen consequences. How does the figure of the good—politically and aesthetically—influence the uptake of “new” technologies, and how do staked predictions influence the present?


This workshop is devised by Ruth Catlow (Furtherfield) and Ben Vickers (Serpentine) in collaboration with Goethe-Institut London and in partnership with Dr Sarah Meiklejohn from UCL, as part of the research project Glass Houses – Transparency and Privacy in Information Economies.



Sarah Meiklejohn

Sarah Meiklejohn is a Reader in Cryptography and Security at University College London.  She has broad research interests in computer security and cryptography, and has worked on topics such as anonymity and criminal abuses in cryptocurrencies, privacy-enhancing technologies, and bringing transparency to shared systems.


Jaya Klara Brekke

Jaya Klara Brekke writes, does research and speaks on the political economy of blockchain and consensus protocols, focusing on questions of politics, redistribution and power in distributed systems. She is the author of the B9Lab ethical training module for blockchain developers, and the Satoshi Oath, a hippocratic oath for blockchain development. She is based between London, occasionally Vienna (as a collaborator of RIAT – Institute for Future Cryptoeconomics) and Durham University, UK where she is writing a PhD with the preliminary title Distributing Chains, three strategies for thinking blockchain politically (


Laura Willis

Laura Willis works as Design Lead in user experience at CitizenMe. Alongside this work Laura is also very passionate about illustration and won an award for Macmillan children’s books before she graduated from University of the Arts, London.


Kei Kreutler

Kei Kreutler is a researcher, designer, and developer interested in how cultural narratives of technologies shape their use. She contributes to a range of projects—from the networked residence initiative unMonastery to the augmented reality game for urban research PATTERNIST—related to organizational design and practice. She is Creative Director at Gnosis, a forecasting platform on the Ethereum blockchain, and lives in Berlin.

Fri 16 Feb 2018
Artists Organise (on the blockchain)

Artists Organise (on the blockchain) is the fourth event in the DAOWO blockchain laboratory and debate series for reinventing the arts.


In previous workshops, hosted by Goethe Institut London, we have explored  developments in the arts ecosystem, impacts on identity, and the complex considerations involved in formalising systems for “doing good” on the blockchain.

In this special event hosted by Drugo More in Rijeka we will draw on the Croatian cultural context and attempt to envision, devise and test alternative forms of blockchain-based cultural production systems, for application at Furtherfield in London. This workshop is part of a wider programme events in Rijeka to accompany the opening at Filodrammatica Gallery of the touring exhibition New World Order.

Set up in 2002, the pioneering non-profit Croatian initiative Clubture “aims to empower the independent cultural sector”, organising according to decentralised, participatory principles that resonate with claims made for blockchain governance.  

Together we will explore what lessons can be learned from the radical, decentralized, participatory organising principles developed by both Furtherfield and Clubture, when assessing the potential value of blockchain technologies to instigate collaboration between networks of cultural players? How do the affordances of different blockchain value systems impinge on our ideas of human nature, and the value and limitations of existing cultural institutions and networks? Who are the networks’ users? How does the network deal with inequalities of resources (time, money, reputation etc)? How are decisions made, rules enforced and conflict resolved?


Workshop – led by Ruth Catlow and Max Dovey

Using theatre, improv and role play techniques participants will develop the following premise:

Julian Oliver’s Harvest node has been installed on top of Furtherfield Gallery in Finsbury Park. A wind turbine is generating a small amount of electricity that is powering the graphics card to mine the ZCash cryptocurrency. It is suggested that the surplus value generated by the work should operate as the funding faucet for a body that commissions new environmentally focused cultural practices and projects for and with the visitors to the park where it is based.

Using the Harvest ´fund´, workshop participants will develop a new public artwork proposal that can commission a cultural program in Finsbury Park. The artwork aims to establish a ´headless´ organisational structure that is financially sustainable and incorporates various actors into the cultural program. The aim is to gain ‘real-world’ understanding of how different blockchain value systems may afford alternative social structures for collaborative cultural production.  


Workshop Hosts

Ruth Catlow

Ruth Catlow [UK] is an artist, curator, and writer. She is co-director, of Furtherfield, co-founded with Marc Garrett in 1996, an artist led organization for labs, debates and exhibitions around critical questions in arts, technology and society. She has co-devised the ‘DAOWO’ workshop series with Ben Vickers (Serpentine Galleries) & in collaboration with Goethe-Institut London (Oct 2017- Mar 2018). Catlow is named by the Foundation for P2P Alternatives in their list of 100 women Co-creating the P2P society.


Max Dovey

Max Dovey [UK] can be described as 28.3% man, 14.1% artist and 8.4% successful. He is also an artist, researcher and lecturer specialising in the politics of data and algorithmic governance. His works explore the political narratives that emerge from technology and digital culture and manifest into situated projects – bars, game-shows, banks and other participatory scenarios. He holds a BA Hons in Fine Art: Time Based Media and a MA (MDes) in Media Design from Piet Zwart Institute. He is an affiliated researcher at the Institute of Network Cultures and regularly writes for Open Democracy, Imperica & Furtherfield. His work has been performed at Ars Electronica Festival, Art Rotterdam & many U.K based music festivals.

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

More information coming soon…

Date to be confirmed
The Decentralised Music Society Reforming Music (on the blockchain)

More information coming soon…