Upcoming: A Leap into the Void. Art Beyond Matter

Exhibitions
René Magritte, Le grand siècle, 1954. Oil on canvas, cm 50 x 60. Kunstmuseum Gelsenkirchen – © René Magritte by SIAE 2022

Along the last year, I have been working hard along with Lorenzo Giusti, curator and Director of GAMeC, Bergamo, and his wonderful team on a monumental museum exhibition, the third chapter in a trilogy on matter conceived by Lorenzo for the museum. I’m happy and proud to start sharing some information about the artists and works that will take over the museum from February 3 to May 28, 2023.

The third and final exhibition in the Trilogia della Materia cycle, Salto nel vuoto. Arte al di là della materia (A Leap into the Void. Art Beyond Matter) will explore the theme of dematerialization by linking up the research into the void initiated by the early movements of the historical avant-garde with their investigations into flux undertaken in the first years of computerization, later developed in the post-digital era through the use of new languages and simulated realities.

The exhibition, curated by Lorenzo Giusti and Domenico Quaranta, is divided into three thematic sections that frame the various ways of focusing on, representing and expressing the principles of dematerialization. The first will be dedicated to the representation of the Vuoto (“Void”) as an immaterial space, and will host a series of works by artists who, at different times and especially through painting, have worked on the principles of extreme reduction, minimum contrast and the imperceptible, recounting the void as an imaginative, ideal, or conceptual dimension. The Flusso (“Flux”) section will present a selection of works from various periods, stretching from the avant-garde to the present day, bearing witness to the radical impact of computerization and digital networks on the perception of material reality. Finally, the Simulazione (“Simulation”) section will focus on the junction between the real and the virtual, along a path showcasing both pioneering and recent works; it will bring works into dialogue that critically investigate the impact of simulations on our perception of concrete reality together with others that, through the medium of painting, broaden our perception by creating powerful visual illusions.

On show are works by some of the great protagonists of 20th-century art, as well as pioneers of digital art, together with artists from more recent generations: Carla Accardi, Josef Albers, Rebecca Allen, Cory Arcangel, Arte Programmata 1962, Gazira Babeli, Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Maurizio Bolognini, Agostino Bonalumi, Regina Cassolo Bracchi, Enrico Castellani, Paolo Cirio, Petra Cortright, Dadamaino, Jean Degottex, Aleksandra Domanović, Constant Dullaart, Richard Estes, Fluxus, John Gerrard, Elisa Giardina Papa, Duane Hanson, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Channa Horwitz, Ryoji Ikeda, Ann Veronica Janssens, JODI, John F. Simon Jr., Vladan Joler, František Kupka, Agnieszka Kurant, Yayoi Kusama, Sol LeWitt, Mark Lombardi, Francesco Lo Savio, Scott Lyall, René Magritte, Fabio Mauri, Agnes Martin, Eva and Franco Mattes, Aiko Miyawaki, Vera Molnár, MSHR, Katja Novitskova, Roman Opałka, Trevor Paglen, Pablo Picasso, Seth Price, Jon Rafman, Andrés Ramírez Gaviria, Casey Reas, Rachel Rossin, Manuel Rossner, Evan Roth, Robert Ryman, Antoine Schmitt, Lillian Schwartz, Jeffrey Shaw, Timur Si-Qin, Hito Steyerl, James Turrell, Gerhard von Graevenitz, Addie Wagenknecht, Ai Weiwei.

Browsing bottom-up alternatives for Art on Web3

Lectures

On October 22, 2022 I took part in a round table hosted by the Uzbekistan National Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, organized and moderated by Silvia Dal Dosso and Giacomo Scandolara, with Andrea Baronchelli, María Paula Fernández and Ryder Ripps. The complete recording is available online, kindly provided by the Art and Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Giga Design Studio. Additionally, an edited transcript of the conversation has been recently made available by Silvia Dal Dosso on Nero Magazine. Check it out!

After the Bubble: NFTs as a long-term artistic medium?

Lectures

On November 12, 2022, I had the pleasure to introduce and moderate a conversation between María Paula Fernández, Michelle Kasprzak, Vuk Ćosić and Cornelia Sollfrank in the framework of the conference “From Commons to NFTs”, organized by Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art in Ljubljana. A video recording of the conversation is now available on Youtube. A transcript of my intro speech with references and links has been minted on my Mirror blog for those of my readers who’d like to collect and support.

“Arte, Blockchain e NFT” su edulia Masterclass

Lectures

Riesco a malapena a guardare il trailer, ma ho fatto questa cosa e ho pure un codice sconto per chi mi segue, quindi la condivido con piacere. edulia Masterclass è la piattaforma di e-learning allestita da Treccani e dedicata a chi vuole imparare sempre qualcosa di nuovo. Io ho preso parte al progetto realizzando il minicorso “Arte, Blockchain e NFT” che potete trovare qui. Gli abbonamenti sono molto accessibili, e usando questo codice potrete avere uno sconto del 30% al momento dell’acquisto: quaranta30 😅

Art in the Age of Ubiquitous Media

Texts

The academic journal VCS – Visual Cultural Studies, published by Mimesis, just came out with a special double issue on Art in the Age of Ubiquitous Media, edited by Sean Cubitt and Valentino Catricalà. It features a gorgeous selection of essays by great authors, including my essay “Crypto Art Does Not Exist. Coming to Terms with an Unfortunate Art Label”. You can find and buy the journal on Mimesis’ website. Don’t be mislead by the deep time of academic journals: it is a text written in January 2022, adapting a chapter of my book Surfing with Satoshi, at the time still unpublished in English. The plus value, here, is reading it in a different context and company, with essays on related topics by Sean Cubitt, Delinda Collier, Andrea Pinotti, Ashley Lee Wong, Roger Malina among others. A short abstract is available after the break.

Domenico Quaranta, “Crypto Art Does Not Exist. Coming to Terms with an Unfortunate Art Label”, in VCS – Visual Cultural Studies, Issue 03/04, June 2022, ISSN 724-2307

Evolution @ Art Verona 2022

Exhibitions
XENOANGEL, Bless the ghosts that bring the winds, 2022. Ceramics, resin, game controller, silicon, 10 x 20 x 15 cm. Courtesy Virginia Bianchi Gallery

I’ve been invited to curate the “Evolution” section of Art Verona, a small yet brave art fair in Italy, that will take place from October 14 to 16, 2022. Evolution’s focus is on artists working with technologies, but in October 2022, a few days after the passing of Bruno Latour, 6 years and 283 days left to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, evolution means, I believe, giving up with the dichotomy culture vs nature, human vs non-human, and with any idea of science-driven progress, technology-driven innovation. Evolution means hybridation, adaptation, learning from nature, questioning the present and exploring alternative timelines.

“History in the Present Progressive” . Surfing with Satoshi review on Outland

Texts

Brian Droitcour, one of my favorite art writers ever, honored me with a review of my book Surfing with Satoshi. Art, Blockchain and NFTs (a few copies are still available here). It’s criticism, so don’t expect only kind words, but some of them really make me proud as they confirm the value and durability of all the work I put in this book (with the priceless support of my publishers, Postmedia Books and Aksioma). A few quotes:

“Quaranta’s account, which addresses the rise of NFTs and the connections between artists’ recent use of blockchains and historical interventions into art markets, sets a high bar for others that will follow.

So far Surfing with Satoshi is the only book of its kind: an attempt by a single author to weave a motley array of histories—of art movements, markets, technologies, and critiques—into a coherent narrative.”

“His book’s greatest strength is the persuasiveness of his links between blockchain-based art and twentieth-century conceptualism. The historical orientation of Surfing with Satoshi is what makes it durable, despite being written in response to—and during—a specific moment.”

Of course, I publicly apologize with artist and theorist Rhea Myers if I inadvertedly misgendered her. Her work, ethos and life embody so much of what this book is taking stance for. A new run of print will come out soon, and these and other mistakes that readers helped me to detect will be amended.

Brian Droitcour, “History in the Present Progressive”, in Outland, July 19, 2022,
https://outland.art/domenico-quaranta-surfing-with-satoshi/

“How Can Art Exist on a Distributed Ledger?” in The Book of X

Texts

The Book of X. 10 Years of Computation, Communication, Aesthetics & X, an anthology of texts and images celebrating the 10th anniversary of the international conference xCoAx, is now available for free download and in printed form (free – you pay only the postage. Among many relevant contributions by authors and artists I admire (Philip Galanter, Andreas Broeckmann, Frieder Nake, Amy Alexander, Alessandro Ludovico, Olia Lialina just to name a few), the book includes a short essay in which I try to address how can art exist on a distributed ledger without simply using it as a system for blowing up prices and documenting ownership and provenance. Included are examples of projects focused on artists and art workers rights, on-chain generative works, and artists turning DAOs into an art form. The effort is to “show how art and blockchain should “X”: at the crossroads between these two fields, art shouldn’t just peruse the blockchain as a given, an immutable, existing substrate, but actively, creatively implement, criticize or correct its infrastructure, nurture and manipulate this substrate to make it evolve in ways not yet envisioned.” Have a nice reading!

Domenico Quaranta, “How Can Art Exist on a Distributed Ledger?”, pp. 207 – 219. Published in Miguel Carvalhais, André Rangel, Luísa Ribas, Mario Verdicchio (Eds.), The Book of X. 10 Years of Computation, Communication, Aesthetics & X, i2ADS: Research Institute in Art, Design and Society, Porto 2022. ISBN: 978-989-9049-25-3 (Paperback), DOI: https://doi.org/10.24840/978-989-9049-26-0.

The Byzantine Generals Problem: an online group exhibition opening on July 4, 2022 at distant.gallery!

Exhibitions

An alternative to capitalism, or capitalism at its worst? An emancipatory network economy where everyone has a stake, or a dystopian panopticon where only the best man wins? An opportunity for democracy, or a techno-libertarian wet dream? A new creative economy or a pyramid scheme? A planet saver or a planet burner? Rarely has the debate around a technology been so polarised as with blockchains, Web3 and NFTs. We are facing a problem of consensus, trapped within a Byzantine Generals Problem.
A group of generals is besieging Byzantium. In order to avoid catastrophic failure, they must agree on a concerted strategy, but some of them are unreliable. Used to illustrate how consensus is reached within distributed systems, this allegory can be applied to blockchains as well as societies. Yet, in a peer-to-peer debate with no central authority, consensus is hard to reach for a reason; and the disagreeing general, the unreliable actor, may be our best resource against the common sense of the crypto-yuppies.
The Byzantine Generals Problem is an online exhibition focused on artworks which do not avoid an engagement with blockchains and crypto culture, but do so in a critically constructive way: questioning dominant narratives, raising problems and sometimes proposing alternative solutions.
Featuring works by Anna Ridler, Ben Grosser, Constant Dullaart, DIS, Face or Factory, Kyle McDonald, LaTurbo Avedon, Moxie Marlinspike, Nascent, Rhea Myers, Sarah Friend, Sarah Meyohas, Simon Denny / Guile Twardowski / Cosmographia, Sterling Crispin, The Miha Artnak.
Curated by Domenico Quaranta and produced by Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, The Byzantine Generals Problem is hosted by distant.gallery,a not for profit organization making an innovative independent and noncommercial online platform available for partners to reach their audience online. During the opening, on July 04, 2022 at 1 PM CEST, the platform will host a short guided tour with the curator and the available artists.

Images in and beyond time: on Quayola’s Laocoöns

Texts

Quayola has his first monograph, monumental and baroque as it should be. Edited by Valentino Catricalà and Nadim Samman, and published by Skira, the publication includes a number of essays, among them an as yet unpublished text I wrote a few years ago about his Laocoön series. A pdf of the original text (2017) is available here.

Domenico Quaranta, “Images in and beyond time: on Quayola’s Laocoöns”, in Valentino Catricalà, Nadim Samman (Eds), Quayola, Skira, Milano 2021, ISBN: 885724620, pp. 134 – 139.