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Identity Design by Christy Nyiri


May 25, 2021


10:00 AM–11:30 AM PDT




Video Conference

221A publishes its Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks (BACP) Digital Strategy Research Report. This study, two years in the making, is developed from the work of a research cluster that was convened to investigate the potential of blockchains as an institutional technology. The freely available PDF includes research papers that survey our culture’s ability to enable a mass-collaborative financial turn, developed with new models for digital cooperativism. The emergent strategy is to enable the conditions for recommoning land, data and objects, through the development of responsive and resilient, asset sharing, power distributing and value generating networks. 

A series of live streams accompany the launch of the digital strategy, and this first of four events will feature Jesse McKee, BACP Lead Investigator and 221A Head of Strategy, with Rosemary Heather, BACP Editorial Director and Principal Researcher. Following a presentation of the initiative’s research cluster and its narratives, key performance targets and strategy screen, Svitlana Matviyenko, Assistant Professor of Communications and Associate Director of the Digital Democracies Institute of Simon Fraser University, joins the conversation to discuss the strategy through the lens of infrastructure in the digital realm. We’ll ask questions about the ways this infrastructure can reproduce or block, reinforce or interrupt, support or intertwine with colonialism and imperialism.

Accessibility note: Live captioning will be provided during the event. A full transcript and recording will be published in the days following.


Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks Research Report, published by 221A, May 2021

Download PDF


  • Rosemary Heather is a art journalist, curator, and researcher with a specialization in Blockchain. She writes about art, the moving image and digital culture for numerous publications, artist monographs, and related projects internationally. Recent interviews include Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Anna Khachiyan, Chris Kraus, Kent Monkman, Ursula Johnson, Dynasty Handbag, Ken Lum, Kerry Tribe, Hito Steyerl, Phil Collins and Candice Breitz. She is a co-author of the collectively written novel Philip, Project Arts Centre, Dublin (2006). Exhibitions she has curated include: Screen and Decor (2013); Ron Giii: Hegel’s Salt Man (2006-2007); Serial Killers: Elements of Painting Multiplied by Six Artists (1999); and I beg to differ (1996). From 2003-2009, Rosemary Heather was the editor of C Magazine (Toronto). Since 2015, she has worked in the blockchain industry as a writer and researcher. Clients include: Wellpath.me (Brooklyn); BitBlox Technologies Inc. (Toronto); Pegasus Fintech (Toronto); Blockgeeks (Toronto); Bitcoin Magazine (Tennessee); Decentral (Toronto). An archive of her writing can be found at https://rosemheather.com/
  • Svitlana Matviyenko is an Assistant Professor of Critical Media Analysis in the School of Communication, and Associate Director of the Digital Democracies Institute. Her research and teaching are focused on information and cyberwar; political economy of information; media and environment; infrastructure studies; STS. She writes about practices of resistance and mobilization; digital militarism, dis- and misinformation; Internet history; cybernetics; psychoanalysis; posthumanism; the Soviet and the post-Soviet techno-politics; nuclear cultures, including the Chernobyl Zone of Exclusion. She is a co-editor of two collections, The Imaginary App (MIT Press, 2014) and Lacan and the Posthuman (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). She is a co-author of Cyberwar and Revolution: Digital Subterfuge in Global Capitalism (Minnesota UP, 2019), a winner of the 2019 book award of the Science Technology and Art in International Relations (STAIR) section of the International Studies Association and of the Canadian Communication Association 2020 Gertrude J. Robinson book prize.
  • Jesse McKee (b.1984) is a leader in the Culture Industries, a Curator of Contemporary Art and Design, and he is the Head of Strategy at 221A. 221A works with artists and designers to research and develop social, cultural and ecological infrastructure. There, he leads the Organization’s advancement, communications, research, and programming. The organization develops and operates 14 000 m2 of cultural-use commercial and residential real-estate across a portfolio of properties that are sub-tenanted according to a cost-recovery operating model. 221A’s artistic program hosts long-term Fellowships for artists and designers, as well as producing public realm art and design projects, and develops education and learning programs, which work with communities to improve the public amenities and reduce barriers at the organization's cultural infrastructures and beyond. From 2019-24, McKee is the lead investigator on 221A’s Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks Digital Strategy, which is developing a digitally cooperative culture by “recommoning” land, data and objects. From 2020-22, he is a member of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association’s Policy Advisory Council, and he is challenged by rebooting cities and public culture venues in equitable, novel and progressive ways in the wake of the COVID-19 long-tail global pandemic. Previously, he was the Curator of The Banff Centre (2011-15), and has worked with leading cultural organizations such as Western Front, Vancouver; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; The Independent Studio & Curatorial Program, New York; The Barbican Centre, London; Things that can happen, Hong Kong and Tranzit.org, Romania. In 2017, he was the curator of Vancouver Special: Ambivalent Pleasures, the inaugural edition of a civic triennial exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. McKee has served as a juror for the Sobey Art Award, and was a member of the Canada Council for the Art's Asia Pacific Delegation. He has written essays and reviews for Canadian Art, C Magazine, Fillip, Border Crossings, Kaleidoscope, and Cura. A recent catalogue essay, Surreal Ghosts and Neuroplastic Ancestors correlates Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson’s filmmaking with the neuroplastic effects of Vancouver’s economic enclosure over the past decade; published by the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia and Institute for Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. A recent monograph on the work of the artist Neïl Beloufa, People, Love, War, Data & Travels, includes an essay by McKee, Counting on People: How it Started… How it’s Going, and this text frames the productions of Beloufa’s films from the mid-2010s as they foretold a global pandemic all enacted through video calls, amid the consequences of social media’s unchecked narrative accelerants; edited by Myriam Ben Salah with Benjamin Thorel, and published by After 8 Books, Paris. jmckee@221a.ca  


Supported by the Canada Council’s Digital Strategy Fund

Unceded Territory

221A acknowledges that the area called Vancouver is within the unceded Indigenous territories belonging to the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. 221A recognizes that the colony of British Columbia was created through organized dispossession and colonial violence. 221A seeks to shift its organizational practices to work together with Indigenous people to end ongoing violence, dispossession and displacement.