Decentralisation and Commoning The Arts

Affiliation: Furtherfield

Abstract: In 2015 Furtherfield invited artists, techies and activists to collaborate, to discover how data and blockchain technologies could be used to build a commons for the arts in the network age. DECAL, Decentralised Arts Lab is the result - modeling translocal and transnational cooperative systems for cultural organisations working with blockchain and web 3.0 technologies for fairer cultural economies and ecologies.

The blockchain is yet to deliver on its promise to empower self-organised collectives of people through more distributed forms of governance and infrastructure. Two DECAL projects CultureStake and Bank Job Detroit are commoning the arts working with blockchain technologies. Culturestake formalises and making more legible previously intangible and disparate community stakeholders for deeper, more reflective governance. Led by Ingrid La Fleur and Thom Ivy, Bank Job Detroit, is open sourcing the “people’s renegade bank”. Originally conceived and created by artists Dan Edelstyn and Hillary Powel in London, this project creates banknotes as artworks that celebrate and fund local community activists while wiping out local, high interest debts. Both projects foreground the crucial (often overlooked) value of local engagement in the shaping of transnational cultural commons infrastructure, and what Margaret Levi refers to as “the expanded community of fate”.

Bio: Ruth Catlow is an artist, curator and activist who brings 20 years of experience from the intersection of arts and technology to emerging practices in art, decentralised technologies and the blockchain. She is co-founder and co-director of Furtherfield, a not-for-profit international community hub founded with Marc Garrett in 1996. Through exhibitions labs, & debates the Furtherfield community collaborates to disrupt and democratise art and technology through deep exploration, open tools and free thinking. Ruth is co-editor of Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain (2017) curator of the touring exhibition New World Order (2017), and runs the DAOWO arts and blockchain lab series with Ben Vickers, Serpentine Galleries. In 2015 Furtherfield launched the Art Data Money programme that sought to develop a commons for the arts in the network age. Decentralised Arts Lab (DECAL) is the outcome. DECAL, a Furtherfield initiative, exists to mobilise crowdsourced research and development by leading artists, using blockchain and web 3.0 technologies for fairer, more dynamic and connected cultural ecologies and economies now.