BLOCK_CHAIN > THE POWER OF 2 is a process rather than an exhibition, a vehicle rather than a fixed destination, a non-hierarchical container for exchange, evolution and innovation. Borrowing it’s terminology from the blockchain, BLOCK_CHAIN > THE POWER OF 2, seeks to transmute the digital framework into a material reality providing the structure within which artists are invited to explore, in pairs, the broader theme of dissent.
It’s namesake, the blockchain, is a powerful algorithm, initially developed for economic application, supporting the Bitcoin digital currency by providing the framework for each transaction between parties to be logged and recorded in simple transparent fashion. The possibility for application in other forms of exchange has snowballed however and may, if predictions prove right, revolutionise the art world, turning the patron economy on it’s head, stamping out the various nasties of fraud/money laundering etc. while issuing in the holy grail of direct and instant remuneration for creative output. A decentralized powerhouse, it is as simple as it is complex, offering transparency in every transaction, creating an immutable ledger of exchange, outside the grip of any hierarchical system or institution.
‘It can be used as a shield for our collective dissent against institutional hierarchies.’ (Hayase Nozomi 2016)
To many though, it remains a mysterious force, belonging to everyone and no-one, it’s illusive founder, or founders, named yet untraceable, the potential of it’s capacity to gather and assimilate vast quantities of digital information not yet fully appreciated or understood. Like many digital developments that promise to progress our experience of the world, we have no time to reflect, we must first engage to reveal its consequences.
With similar intent, and using this model of transparent documentation as the framework for our process, artists will come together in pairs to explore the concept of dissent. Allowing for broad interpretation, this could be personal, environmental, sociological, or may, as yet, (with the pace of change quickening by the second) evade categorisation.
BLOCK_CHAIN > THE POWER OF 2, invites artists into this process of documented exchange, drawing from the spirit of nonhierarchical transparency that blockchain represents, but embracing with that, the experimental, material and unpredictable language of the artist. Fitting around their practice, artists can engage at whatever level they choose, be that quick, experimental responses, or drawing from previous examples of work.
Rippling out into a multiplicity of transactions, each artist will respond to the theme of dissent, the image of their artwork operating as a catalyst for a further pair, and they, in turn will be invited to engage with each other, before again, passing their work on. The process will be recorded at every point of exchange both on Instagram, and on a dedicated blog site. Images created may be of material, object, text or merely digital expression. Ultimately this online exchange will cross over into the physical world, as the images are formed into a chain of blocks, the display of which will create the starting point for a symposium at Winchester School of Art, bringing artist, students and academics together to explore outcomes of our relationship with dissent.
BLOCK_CHAIN > THE POWER OF 2 is a collaborative process reflective of our ever widening daily interaction with multiple voices which differ from our own. Digital connectivity, travel and communication increasingly influence and stretch our moral and ethical understanding of our world.
‘Through the process of social saturation, we are immersed in a plethora of understandings – the psychological ontologies of varying ethnicities, class strata, geographic sectors, racial and religious groupings, professional enclaves and nationalities.’ (Gergen’ K, in Grodin D. and T. R. Lindlof, 1996)
As artists though, we continue to engage with a language of material and form, with media and concept, an occupation whose very action could be seen as dissent against the hegemonic and economic model of society. BLOCK_CHAIN > THE POWER OF 2 seeks to open up this concept of dissent through various artists eyes, while paying homage to the collaboration and the simple transparent recording of active, creative exchange.
by SUSAN FRANCIS
Hayase Nozomi, 2016, Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery, Counterpunch, Available from: https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/07/25/cryptography-as-democratic-weapon-against-demagoguery, Accessed 7th November 2017
Gergen’ K, in Grodin D. and T. R. Lindlof, 1996 ‘Technology and the Self:From the essential to the Sublime, Constructing the Self in a Mediated World’ London, Sage Publications p127