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


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!


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


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.

Il video rende felici. Video arte in Italia


ll video rende felici. Videoarte in Italia is a major publication on Italian video art, published in conjunction with an extensive exhibition at Palazzo delle Esposizioni and Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Rome, and edited by Cosetta Saba and Valentina Valentini. Hopefully at some point it will be translated into English, in order to offer to an international audience and scholarship a wide overview of the Italian contribution to the histories of Video Art from the Sixties. I had the pleasure to contribute with an essay on video in the age of platform capitalism, focused on practices of appropriation and re-use. A pdf version of my essay is available here.

Domenico Quaranta, “Il video nell’era del platform capitalism: social media, big data e cinema database”, in Cosetta Saba, Valentina Valentini (a cura di), Videoarte in Italia. Il video rende felici, Treccani, Roma 2022, pp. 553 – 561.

Better (not to) Call Mark


I wrote a short essay for the exhibition Better Call Mark, on view since June 9 at Galeria Fran Reus, Palma de Mallorca. Featuring works by Albrecht / Wilke, Arno Beck, Johannes Bendzulla, Pierre Clement, Olga Fedorova, Marian Garrido, Joan Heemskerk, Eva & Franco Mattes, Mario Santamaria, Bartomeu Sastre, Mathew Zefeldt, Better Call Mark focuses on the dissolution between the purely physical and online. My take on it is available online as pdf, and in this post, right after the break.

Mark is, of course, Zuch. The image above is a screenshot from Joan Heemskerk’s contribution to the show: the website and installation Aquay (2022)

Interview | Arshake

Rafaël Rozendaal, Observation, 2022. Navy Officer’s Club, Venice Meeting Point. Photo courtesy Domenico Quaranta

Elena Giulia Rossi asked me a few questions about the topics of my book Surfing with Satoshi, one year after the first Italian edition, and in the days when cryptocurrencies are falling free and the new English edition of the book is coming out. The interview is now available on Arshake, in Italian and English (translated by the magazine). We discuss about the countercultural aspects of net-based art, the new challenges to the preservation of digital media, the blockchains environmental impact, speculative bubbles and utopian promises. Check it out!

Surfing with Satoshi. Art, Blockchain and NFTs now available in English!

Surfing with Satoshi, Texts

I’m happy and proud to announce that my book Surfing with Satoshi. Art, Blockchain and NFTs is now available in English! Scheduled for release on May 25, the book can be pre-ordered on Aksioma’s online store with free shipping, alone or in a special combo with Hyperemployment. Post-work, Online Labour and Automation (2019), funnily named “Combo 40”.

Produced and published by Aksioma, Ljubljana, Surfing with Satoshi. Art, Blockchain and NFTs is the English version of my book Surfing con Satoshi. Arte, blockchain e NFT, published in Italian by Postmedia Books in June 2021. Printed in a limited release of 300 copies, this English version features a new design by Superness, color plates and a “Foreword to the English Edition” that offers a major update of the book, and that can be downloaded for free from this link.

Human in the Loop. Visualizzare la massa invisibile


L’effimero tangibile. Dal reale al virtuale: arti, spettacolo e prospettive di comunicazione digitale (GBE, Roma 2021) è una raccolta di saggi che offre un campione della produzione scientifica del Dottorato di Ricerca Digital Humanities. Comunicazione e nuovi media organizzato dall’Università di Genova, a cui ho avuto l’onore di prendere parte dal 2006 al 2009. La raccolta include un mio contributo, in italiano, sui temi che hanno nutrito la mostra e il progetto editoriale Hyperemployment: lavoro invisibile, intelligenza artificiale, postcapitalismo, automazione… Tra gli artisti discussi, Sebastian Schmieg, UBERMORGEN, Andrew Norman Wilson, Guido Segni, Eva e Franco Mattes, Michael Mandiberg, Elisa Giardina Papa.

Domenico Quaranta, “«Human in the Loop». Visualizzare la massa invisibile”, in Maurizia Migliorini, Sergio Poli (a cura di), L’effimero tangibile. Dal reale al virtuale: arti, spettacolo e prospettive, di comunicazione digitale, GBE / Ginevra Bentivoglio EditoriA, Roma 2021, pp. 201 – 212. PDF DOWNLOAD

Collezionisti e valore dell’arte in Italia


Sollecitato da Alberto Fiz, ho contribuito al libro Collezionisti e valore dell’arte in Italia 2022, prodotto da Intesa San Paolo in collaborazione con Skira, con un breve saggio su collezionismo e arte digitale. Di prossima uscita, il volume è stato presentato oggi con un video in streaming presentato da Luca Beatrice, che ospita anche (dal minuto 35.30) una breve conversazione tra me e Alberto sul tema degli NFT. Non sono mai fiero delle mie performance verbali, ma lo splendido sfondo delle Gallerie d’Italia e il logo dell’Ansa valgono ben una condivisione.

Jon Rafman e le eggregore del nostro tempo


Domenico Quaranta, “Jon Rafman e le eggregore del nostro tempo”, in Il Giornale dell’arte, 21 febbraio 2022.

[…] Coniato nell’ambito dell’occultismo, il termine eggregora definisce un campo mentale, una forma-pensiero che si manifesta come emanazione di un ampio gruppo di persone che condividono un contesto culturale comune. Arricchitosi nel tempo di contaminazioni con il pensiero teosofico e con l’idea dell’inconscio collettivo junghiano, in anni recenti il termine ha assunto nuove sfumature, venendo cooptato sia dalla teoria politica (le corporation sono eggregore, in quanto manifestazioni individuali di una collettività che esiste come soggetto giuridico) che dalla memetica. I memi sono sempre emanazioni di una collettività; la loro identità non evolve per iniziativa di un singolo, ma per centinaia di impulsi convergenti. In casi specifici, queste emanazioni possono assumere una vita propria e una qualità magica, trascendere lo spazio discorsivo in cui si sono formati, influenzare il cosiddetto mondo reale: in altre parole, diventare eggregore […]

L’eggregora è l’elemento unificante che raccoglie i diversi lavori presentati in «₳Ɽ฿Ł₮ɆⱤ Ø₣ ₩ØⱤⱠĐ₴», la personale di Rafman da Ordet, in una narrativa comune. Il titolo della mostra fa riferimento alla capacità delle eggregore di farsi «mastermind», di presiedere alla nostra comprensione dei mondi in cui si è frammentata la realtà e di cambiarne, con la loro occulta influenza, gli accadimenti, trasformando false notizie in verità condivise da comunità abbastanza ampie da assumere la concretezza della realtà, mobilitando masse, riscrivendo storie o la Storia.