PROOF OF WORK
8 September – 21 December 2018
Curated by Simon Denny in dialogue with Distributed Gallery, Harm van den Dorpel, Sarah Hamerman and Sam Hart, Kei Kreutler, Aude Launay, and Anna-Lisa Scherfose.
Proof of Work is a group exhibition organized by Simon Denny in dialogue with Distributed Gallery, Harm van den Dorpel, Sarah Hamerman & Sam Hart, Kei Kreutler, Aude Launay, and Anna-Lisa Scherfose.
The explosion of interest in cryptocurrencies and distributed computing since Bitcoin’s emergence in 2009 has led to experiments in alternative governance structures, financing, and peer-to-peer networking. This shift has seeded a cultural conversation that has inspired great creative production on both sides of the traditional ars/techne divide.
Staged in the Schinkel Klause – the Schinkel Pavillon’s labyrinthine lower floor and a former GDR restaurant – this exhibition brings together works engaged with the culture around Bitcoin and blockchain, entertaining crypto as a possible new infrastructure for money, computing, and organizing. This includes artwork made by crypto builders, crypto experiments built by artists, and a small number of paintings and drawings that resonate with crypto but predate Bitcoin. The organizers are also diverse, bringing to the show experience as technologists, artists, and curators – often in combination.
Rethinking decentralization, consensus, secrecy, privacy, religion, and societal and/or organizational structures has become popular in circles that discuss and explore the possibilities of blockchain-related systems. Berlin is a busy node in an international network of crypto-interested producers, gathering around amorphous discussion groups. The online group “Crypto Circle” – who use the office chat platform Slack to share ideas – events, and collective “co-working” office spaces like Full Node in Kreuzberg are examples of such self selecting groups and spaces relevant to many of the positions featured in the exhibition.
A transparent curatorial structure was adopted for selecting the artworks in the exhibition and reflects an interest in distributed decision making. Creators-as-decision-making-nodes were invited to propose positions they felt resonated with blockchain, pushing back on the idea of curating as a singular point of centralized decision-making. The result is a partial picture of activity in this area that is formed by a pre-defined organizational protocol. An organizational diagram is produced and exhibited alongside the exhibition, a record of this structure.
Proof of Work takes its title from the decentralized process behind Bitcoin and other blockchain-based cryptocurrencies. It is the name of the consensus algorithm used to confirm transactions and produce new “blocks” on the “chain,” or ledger that makes up a blockchain. From the Bitcoin wiki: “A Proof of Work is a piece of data which is difficult (costly, time consuming) to produce but easy for others to verify and which satisfies certain requirements.”
With this exhibition we aim to highlight a non-representative cross section of the artistic activity being done in the wake of blockchain’s emergence.
Proof of Work
Curated by Simon Denny in dialogue with Distributed Gallery, Harm van den Dorpel, Sarah Hamerman & Sam Hart, Kei Kreutler, Aude Launay, and Anna-Lisa Scherfose
Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin, Germany
September 8 – December 21, 2018