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Diagram from Patricia Reed’s 'The Valuation of Necessity', 2021. Commissioned by 221A for the Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks Research Report. Diagram by the artist as an illustration of N. Katherine Hayles conception of technics; the study of how technical objects emerge, solidify, disassemble, and evolve. As detailed in 'How We Think: Contemporary Media and Technology' (University of Chicago Press, 2012)


June 4, 2021


10:00 AM–11:30 AM PDT




Video Conference

This event hosted a conversation around a commissioned research paper by the artist and theorist Patricia Reed. “The Valuation of Necessity,” published in the Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks Research Report, takes an in-depth look at the conceptual constraints that, increasingly, are proving lethal to life on this planet. Reed’s two-part paper examines the social constitution of necessity as a normative and epistemic referent, orienting the uses and abuses of technology within this historical moment designated as the planetary. Reed’s paper is illustrated with a series of diagrams drawn by the artist, adding a further conceptual dimension to the cosmology of concepts and ideas that the writer travels through. The conversation around “The Valuation of Necessity” also welcomes the initiative’s Editorial Director, Rosemary Heather; critical geographer Maral Sotoudehnia of the Province of British Columbia’s Climate Action Secretariat; and Wassim Alsindi of 0x Salon, Berlin, who conducts research on the legal and ecological externalities of blockchain networks.

By asking questions about what conditions are needed to cognize worlds that do not yet exist, we will consider the relevance of blockchain technology beyond tech startup orthodoxy. This knowledge reproduction is part of the Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks mandate as a research initiative – discovering how the technology might capture the imagination and what its future applications might be, in an art and design context and beyond.

Accessibility note: Live captioning was 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

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  • Wassim Alsindi is the founder and host of the 0x Salon, conducting experiments in post-disciplinary collective knowledge practices. The 0x Salon provides an informal space for unstructured discussions of unusual topics and collectively authors outputs based on these conversations. A veteran of the blockchain space, Wassim currently works on conceptual design and philosophy of cryptoeconomic systems at BlockScience, in addition to writing and editorial responsibilities for various publications including the MIT Computational Law Report. Previously, Wassim co-founded and edited the MIT Media Lab's interdisciplinary Cryptoeconomic Systems (CES) journal and chaired the CES'19 and CES'20 conferences on-campus. Prior to MIT, he was an independent researcher formulating novel approaches to the characterisation of cryptographic assets and networks such as the regulatory epistemology project TokenSpace. Wassim has also curated avant-garde arts events, led a creative engineering laboratory and published open-source experimental electronic music. Originally with research specialisations in the physical sciences, Wassim holds a PhD in ultrafast supramolecular photophysics from the University of Nottingham alongside degrees in chemistry, astrophysics and finance.

  • 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/
  • Patricia Reed is an artist, writer and designer based in Berlin. As an artist, selected exhibitions include: TIER, Berlin; Meet Factory, Prague; The One and The Many, CUAG, Ottawa; Homeworks 7, Beirut; Witte de With, Rotterdam; and HKW, Berlin. Recent writings have been published in Angelaki 24; Making & Breaking; Para-Platforms (Sternberg); Post-Meme (Punctum Books, forthcoming); e-flux Architecture; Xeno-Architecture (Sternberg Press); Cold War Cold World (Urbanomic); and Distributed (Open Editions). With Victoria Ivanova, she co-curated the 1948 Unbound: Tokens session with the House of World Cultures team, Berlin (2017), and was a theory researcher for Public Art Munich 2018. Reed is also part of the Laboria Cuboniks (techno-material feminist) working group whose Xenofeminist Manifesto (2015), was reissued by Verso books in 2018.
  • Maral Sotoudehnia is a Ph.D. Candidate in the University of Victoria’s Department of Geography. Her research investigates the cultural politics and commodification of digital and urban spaces shaped by global policies, peer-to-peer systems, and smart technologies. Equally influencing her scholarship are contemporary approaches to critical data studies, feminist political economy, and new materialist scholars that foreground questions surrounding access, citizenship, embodiment, financial exclusion, social justice, and subject/ivities in relation to multi-scalar decision-making processes. Her doctoral research project, supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, traces an ethnography of contemporary life under distributed but rambunctious instances of capitalism generated by blockchains and cryptocurrency markets.


Supported by the Canada Council for the Art’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.