Blockchain Event Series in Partnership with SUGAR, Goethe-Institut, and Emily Carr University of Art & Design

Blockchain Event Series in Partnership with SUGAR, Goethe-Institut, and Emily Carr University of Art & Design

January 8, 2020

“For us to reclaim our full humanity, we have to understand that this will come from creating new systems of being with each other. So that in the new system, the value of a human being is the full human value, their value as a poet, a thinker, a lover, a carrier of the culture. That’s what the value of a human being is, that’s what we deserve and need.”—Ed Whitfield, Fund for Democratic Communities (F4DC)

“Expansionist thinking is rooted in abstract economic models and monetary analyses that are devoid of biophysical data and ignore fundamental physical laws.”—William E. Rees, School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia

January 19, 2020, SUGAR 5 Lower Jarvis Street, Toronto/Tkaronto
2–4 PM Talk

January 22, 2020, Emily Carr University of Art + Design 520 East 1st Avenue, Vancouver/Unceded Territories
3–5 PM Workshop, RSVP | 7–8:30 PM Talk, Room B2160

Isaac Asimov’s short story The Last Question (1956) is a canonical sci-fi parable about technological innovation, that infers humanity is both the creator and created. 221A’s Research Initiative Blockchain & Cultural Padlocks (2019-22) aligns with The Last Question’s paradoxical message by looking at the ways that a relatively new and widely speculated technology, the blockchain, has the potential to develop new systems that will allow us to “re-common” land, data and objects.  

Through these investigations, Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks seeks ways to escape the limiting discourses surrounding technology in both techno-fetishist (solutionist) and or techno-pessimist guises, instead grappling with technology as a co-evolutionary byproduct which influences and is influenced by social life at large. (Reed, Patricia. The Valuation of Necessity. Vancouver: 221A, 2020) Please join 221A, along with our partners SUGAR (Toronto/Treaty 13) and Emily Carr University of Art & Design (Vancouver/Unceded Territories) for a series of events that will explore these challenges by asking the questions: How we can better design social, cultural and ecological value on the blockchain in ways that incentivize us to seek out new collective ideals? Are there ways to perform our work, and live our lives in ways that puts humanity and the planet on a survival path amid the collapsing climate? 

At SUGAR on Sunday, January 19 (2–4 PM) a roundtable will be moderated by the Research Initiative’s Editorial Director, Rosemary Heather with a presentation by Goethe-Institut Guest Matthias Einhoff, Artist, Designer and Director of Z/KU, Berlin (Centre for Art and Urbanistics). Einhoff will present the ongoing Bee Coin Project which assembles human and non-human actors in a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), with the ultimate goal of caring for bees by incentivizing us to encourage qualities of our ecosystem which keep the most important pollinators healthy. Data becomes the foundation for a crypto-economic system that redistributes resources with the aim of creating ecological integrity.  Respondents will include Ala Roushan, Co-Curator/Director of Sugar Contemporary, whose current research navigates the implications of digital technologies as it reveals the depth of space beyond the limits of human perception; Dr. Alexis Morris, assistant professor in the Digital Futures program at the Ontario College of Art & Design University, and the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in the Internet of Things, and Ceit Butler, Professor of Blockchain Development at George Brown University, who contributed to the development of the first post-secondary certificate in blockchain in Canada.

At Emily Carr University of Art & Design on Wednesday, January 22 (workshop 3–5 pm; public talk, 7–8:30 pm) please join Matthias Einhoff for a workshop that will share his learning from the development of The Bee Coin Project along with Lee White of ChinookX and Artist Julian HouChinookX, a partner of 221A on the Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks Research Initiative, is an Indigenous-led nonprofit organization that is seeking ways for the blockchain to be designed with Indigenous consensus protocols in order to enable responsive resource management for traditional territories and data-sovereignty for First Nations communities. Julian Hou is an Artist Researcher working with 221A and he is leading the development of a feasibility study for an artist-led community that draws from the notion of anoesis, a state of mind consisting of pure sensation or emotion without cognitive content. In Hou’s view, if this anoetic resonance can be used as an organizing principle for communities developing the blockchain, it has the advantage of leading us to places that are less about individual choices or cognitive judgments because of its undeniable quality of communication and perception that can encourage more harmonious coexistence. In Hou’s words: “ethical questions around blockchain should be tempered by an equal consideration of natural life – our coextensive relationship with nature should be built into the ethics of blockchain.” The workshop (RSVP) is intended for students, designers, artists, planners, urbanists and developers engaged with the blockchain. The workshop will be followed by a public roundtable with the workshop leaders (7-8:30 pm, Room B2160), introduced and moderated by Jesse McKee, 221A Head of Strategy.


Supported by the Goethe Institut, Matthias Einhoff also participates in a series of public events in Montreal / Tiohtià:ke tsi ionhwéntsare earlier in the month, with a seminar on the commons organized by the Observatoire des médiations culturelles at l’Institut national de la recherche scientifique, and a workshop convened by les Entrepreneurs du commun at the Phi Centre. 


For more information about 221A please contact us at or +1 604 568 0812.