SUGAR – The Last Question: How can we design the blockchain towards systems that encourage equity, ecological integrity, and living within the planet’s carrying capacity?
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“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
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 partner SUGAR (Toronto/Treaty 13) for a roundtable discussion 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 put humanity and the planet on a survival path amid the collapsing climate?
The Roundtable will be moderated by the Research Initiative’s Editorial Director, Rosemary Heather with a presentation by Goethe-Institut Guest Matthias Einhoff, Artist 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 OCAD University, and the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in the Internet of Things, and Ceit Butler, Professor of Blockchain Development at George Brown College, who contributed to the development of the first post-secondary certificate in blockchain in Canada.
- 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/
- Ala Roushan is an Associate Professor at Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU) and the co-Curator/Director of SUGAR, a curatorial platform exploring new trajectories for public art informed by site. Ala’s practice includes research, writing, curating and teaching focused on digital culture. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the European Graduate School in Philosophy, Art & Critical Thought and holds a Master of Arts in Advanced Architectural Design from the Städelschule. Previously she was active as a founder and co-curator of Flip Project Space, Napoli. Her current research navigates the implications of digital technologies as it reveals depth of space beyond the limits of human perception.
- Dr. Alexis Morris is an assistant professor in the Digital Futures program at OCAD University, and the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in the Internet of Things. He is the director of the Adaptive Context Environments (ACE) Lab, and is a specialist in the overlapping research domain of software engineering for adaptive systems based on the incorporation of fuzzy human-factors in socio-technical systems and conducts core research on adaptive interfaces and collaborative approaches to context awareness through mixed reality, for a host of domains, including the Internet of Things. His work engages a cross-section of approaches in artificial intelligence (i.e., soft-computing via neural networks and fuzzy logic), virtual and augmented reality, passive brain-computer interfaces, adaptive risk management, multi-agent systems modelling, organizational culture simulations, and pervasive technologies. He also aims to impart insight into the broad impact of rapid technological advances on society, through lecturing and teaching roles that engage and inspire students.
- Matthias Einhoff, is co-founder and director of the Center for Arts and Urbanistics www.zku-berlin.org, an interdisciplinary hub for urban research and artistic practice located in Berlin. Next to his managing and curatorial responsibilities he is heading the development of research-based projects at the interface of urban discourses and local practices with outcomes such as www.citytoolbox.net – learning platform for urban practitioners, www.wasteland-twinning.net – urban wasteland survey, www.hackingurbanfurniture.net – urban infrastructure revisited. As a founding member of the artist collectives www.kunstrepublik.de, and Superschool he has been working in the public sphere exploring the potentials of art to (re)activate the social and spatial relationships of individuals and groups. E.g. www.skulpturenpark.org and for collective knowledge production. (Congress-of-halfknowledge). As co-initiator and board member of www.hausderstatistik.org , an inclusive 60,000sqm development project, he co-moderated the process and co-directed the and for public arts section www.allesandersplatz.berlin/en/ He has been teaching at UdK-Berlin, DigitalArtsLab-Tel Aviv and as a visiting professor at Kunsthochschule Kassel.
- Ceit Butler is a program development lead at George Brown College, and has worked closely with the college and other industry professionals to help create and launch what has become Canada's first post-secondary certificate in Blockchain Development. Currently, she is a Professor and Program Coordinator for the blockchain program where her duties include: engaging and mentoring students to help them develop innovative solutions to business challenges; overseeing the dynamic evolution of the curriculum in order to ensure that the content keeps pace with the technology; and forging new industry partnership opportunities between the college and the larger blockchain community. Ceit is also a Linux and Open Source software enthusiast; privacy and security proponent; and PHP, Solidity, and Python programmer applying her expertise in humanitarian and not-for-profit projects. She speaks fluent Geek, and in her spare time enjoys virtually piloting gunships, gourmet cooking at home, and knitting in the company of dangerous minds.
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.
Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks is supported by The Canada Council for the Art’s Digital Strategy Fund