Simon Denny is an artist working with installation, sculpture, print and video. His exhibitions unpack the social and political implications of the technology industry and the rise of social media, startup culture, blockchains and cryptocurrencies. As an extension of these investigations, Denny co-curated Proof of Stake – Technological Claims at the Kunstverein in Hamburg, which reflected on themes of technology, organization and ownership.
The Founder’s Compass was posted by Vitalik Buterin, the creator of the Ethereum blockchain, on his Twitter account. The meta-diagram plots the way political positions represent politics itself, and how they understand themselves and their adversaries. But like all meta-graphs, there’s another level of abstraction that would include this one. The graph reveals as much about its maker as its data set.
Buterin’s imagined neutrality only reveals his own unexamined politics: the very assumption that a metapolitics is possible is a political one. Blockchain ideology’s scientific trappings are often blind to the fact that it is just that–ideology. Technology, especially of ownership, is never neutral; and wittingly or not, neutrality claims serve their own strategic function. As a part of Proof of Stake, the diagram was cut into six parts and printed on a group of tessellated canvases, where parts of the diagram awkwardly misalign due to the separate panels. For his edition, the diagram is similarly split into six sections (or shards, a term that derives from distributed computing but also refers to a part of a whole) and is multiplied as silkscreen prints so it can be distributed once again. By shifting their context, from the “metaverse” to art institutions or collections, Denny transforms a supposed diagrammatic model of politics into a representation of its maker.
Denny co-founded the Berlin Program for Artists, an artist mentoring program, in 2016 with Willem de Rooij and Angela Bulloch. Since 2018, he has been a professor for Time Based Media at the HFBK, Hamburg.