Participating artists: Robert Alice, Mel Chin, Joshua Citarella, Simon Denny, Fang Di, Stephanie Dinkins, DISNOVATION, Sarah Friend, Isa Genzken, Holly Herndon / Mathew Dryhurst, Femke Herregraven, Mike Kelley, Josh Kline, Paul Kolling, Agnieszka Kurant, James Luna, Karamia Müller, New Red Order (NRO): Zack Khalil, Adam Khalil, Jackson Polys, Yuri Pattison, Timur Si-Qin, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Krista Belle Stewart, Paul Thek, Luke Willis Thompson, Prateek Vijan and Beecoin ist ein Projekt von KUNSTrePUBLIK (Einhoff, Horst, Sachs) in Kooperation mit Hiveeyes und Nascent
Proof of Stake - Technological Claims is a group exhibition initiated by the Kunstverein in Hamburg and artist Simon Denny that reflects on themes of technology, organization and ownership. It is accompanied by a symposium, a course with students and two publications—the first of which will be released with the opening events on the 3rd and 4th of September.
The exhibition is named after an ownership-based blockchain protocol that has increased in visibility after its competitors faced criticism for incentivising high energy consumption. Proof of Stake questions how the framing of processes or objects as “technological” performs cultural work—from blockchain protocols to museum reification practices. It foregrounds the question of who gets to claim the technical, a question that is often accompanied by a legitimacy or naturalization of what could otherwise be read as political processes. In dialogue with some of the region’s most visible institutions, such as the MARKK (Museum am Rothenbaum), Denny and his conversation partners—artist Timur Si-Qin and Prof. Timon Beyes (Leuphana University Lüneburg) and the artists listed above—unpack who and what plays a role in technology's legitimation processes and how they interact with ownership and power.
Among the artworks presented, Proof of Stake - Technological Claims includes projects that critically work through the possibilities of making art with blockchains— like the collective Beecoin initiative, that links decentralised technologies to non-human social formations by putting blockchains in dialogue with beehives; and Sarah Friend’s Clickmine which unpacks extractive mechanisms across multiple contexts, through a metaverse property/mine simulation that issues ERC-20 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. The exhibition also includes works that question who frames adjacent technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence—for instance, Stephanie Dinkins’ iconic Conversations with Bina48 where the artist explores the gaps in where a humanoid robot presents “an examination of the codification of social, cultural and future histories at the intersection of technology, race, gender and social equity.” Special commissions thematically weave in and out of presentations of these existing artworks, for example an installation by the artist Timur Si-Qin that recontextualizes vitrines decommissioned from the display systems of the MARKK (Museum am Rothenbaum), in a gesture that questions how museum structures themselves, and the cultural norms they perpetuate are linked to acts of classifying objects as technological. Artworks by the New Red Order and Krista Belle Stewart speak to indigenous histories, questioning how they have been institutionally represented in different contexts in Germany and the United States; while drawings by Karamia Müller show how standard “tech” tools such as architectural CAD programs privilege the creation and valuing of particular sorts of spatial usage and form.
The first publication associated with the project, released during the opening weekend of the exhibition, is Media Organize: A Companion to Technological Objects. Edited by Timon Beyes, Simon Denny, Armin Beverungen, Lisa Conrad, Claus Pias, Bettina Steinbrügge, the companion assembles 39 inquiries into the organizational powers of everyday media. Written by students from the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg and of Culture & Organization and Media and Digital Cultures at Leuphana University Lüneburg, its entries investigate how objects are framed as technological and are used to organize life.
The second publication, to be released in 2022, will bring together documentation of the exhibition's full installation and individual artworks with entries from international scholars describing a chosen technological object. These objects are linked to a spatial representation in the exhibition and a process where Simon Denny will mint NFT representations of the author’s chosen technological objects on the Proof of Stake-based “Tezos'' blockchain platform Hic et Nunc, and gift them to the scholars as partial compensation for their work.