Photo by Emmanuel Etti

Community and collaboration in the new paradigm

Trained as an architect, artist Julian Yi-Zhong Hou has referred to his practice as “hypnagogic,” a word that defines the transitional state between wakefulness and sleep. Applied to an art practice, this idea points to Hou’s attentiveness to how bodily experience combines sensations from both the material and immaterial worlds. Applied to the blockchain, Hou imagines a wholly different use for the concept of tokenization. Anoesis, the mind in a state of sensation without cognition, provides the conceptual basis for Hou’s idea of anoetic tokenization—tokens that quantify the value of relationships, not things. In Hou’s view, this form of token economy has the potential to upend the hierarchical relationships typical of the legacy artworld. Beyond art, Hou offers a clever prognostication of how networks will continue to disrupt and reorganize social relations.

Ron Tran

“Anoetic Tokenization” by Julian Yi-Zhong Hou was published in the Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks Research Report in May 2021. Read it here.

Six multicolour circular tokens with stars at their center are arranged in a horizontal line. Each carries a different text: "Form and Matter," "Political Elocution," "Structural Design," "New Language," "Aesthetic Sensibilities," "Truth to Spirit."
Anoetic Tokens by Julian Yi-Zhong Hou

Julian Yi-Zhong Hou is a multi-disciplinary artist working in textiles, sound, performance, installation, stained glass, text, and drawing. He adopts empathic and fluid methodologies in addition to hypnagogic practice to produce works that speak about cultural motives, animism and figuration in objects and interiors. He recently held solo exhibitions Grass Drama, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2020); Staying in the feeling, Malaspina Printmakers Society, Vancouver (2020); Dreamweed, Unit 17, Vancouver (2018); Cloudcuckooville,, Montreal (2018); Milman Parry’s Waiting Room Rhapsody, Artspeak, Vancouver (2017); Stupid sun, 8eleven, Toronto (2017). He has participated in group exhibitions and performances at the SFU Audain Gallery, Vancouver (2020); the Plumb, Toronto (2021); Vancouver Art Gallery (2016-2017); Things that can happen, Hong Kong (2017); Damien and the Love Guru, Brussels (2017); 221A @ Occidental Temporary, Paris (2016). He has participated in residencies at 221A (2017), Western Front (2018), and Triangle, Marseille (2019). Hou holds a BA in Art and Culture Studies from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, and a Masters in Architecture from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.


In researching anoetic resonances, Hou invited four artists, Sharona Franklin, Tiziana La Melia, Ron Tran and Christian Vistan to draft imagery that progresses beyond the European pastoral context of the land. The portfolio, titled Humus, along with excerpts of Hou’s writing, was presented at the Blockchain@UBC Annual Conference, June 10, 2019.


A white silk kerchief bearing subtle images of bugs, flowers and soil, is laid out loosely on the grass.
Beneath the pleasant grass, 2019
Ron Tran
Anoetic Tokenization, 2019
Julian Yi-Zhong Hou
Class-Bound Vortex, 2019
Sharona Franklin