“I wanted to see what human-generated randomness looks like,” writes Jonathan Chomko of his NFT project Proof of Work. Extending out his previous prompt-driven choreography, the Montréal artist created software for collecting random values from “small-scale“ gestures: typing random characters on a keyboard. Experiments with scale and colour yielded a pixellated visual language and, post-NFT drop, he notes the labourious process “records a minimum viable artwork, the hand of the artist visible in the digital image.”
DEL Reflection: the Offer/Need Machine
“Our hope for the Offer/Need Machine was that the values that exist within the culture of generosity amongst creators could be more widespread, better leveraged, and become their own knowledge system. We were drawing inspiration from solidarity economy principles and gift economy practices to think about exchange where it’s not quid pro quo or transactional, and more of a kinship structure where others support you and have your back.”
“This project is also a reflection of the changing definition and reality of what it is to be a professional artist. It is near impossible to make a living solely from one’s individual artistic production, and so almost all artists are many things. This project will leverage the multiplicity that exists within individuals and create a larger more resilient network of cultural producers.”
Spanning four conversations with Artengine’s Ryan Stec, DEL residents Macy Siu, Julie Gendron, Kofi Oduro, and Kalli Retzepi outline the thinking behind Offer/Need Machine (ONM), a decentralized network of reciprocity where artists, designers, and art organizations exchange “one-hour gifts” of knowledge and expertise to support each other outside of traditional commerce.
Nurtured within the Digital Economies Lab, in spring 2021 the ONM team secured funding to develop a prototype through a Canada Council for the Arts Digital Strategy Fund grant, which the team will work on through fall 2022.
In these interviews, we hear varying notions of care from across the team—and how ONM could remedy the pervasive problem where artists of limited means are stifled because of a lack of crucially needed expertise.
These quotes, notes, and references are highlights from conversations that took place between the ONM team and Ryan Stec in Spring 2021. Click through below and watch the interviews in their entirety.
01 & 02 – Mycellium as Muse
“Initially the project stemmed from an obsession with mushrooms and mycelium networks and how natural systems are able to detect and transfer resources,” notes Siu in her interview. From day one, the ONM team was looking to how nonhuman species communicate, sense, and share for inspiration. This thread continues to the present day, as evidenced by the distinctly mycelial ONM frontispiece image by Oduro, the team’s Creative Director.
03 – Knowing the Field
ONM may be rooted in theoretical models of collectivity informed by biological systems, but the team did their homework in positioning their project. As part of their grant application, they conducted thorough market research, studying resource sharing spanning a Blockchain care protocol, to an item swap platform, to a European collective focused on agricultural resource sharing (Image: Inland, organizational diagram).
“Time Holds All the Answers,” a survey of Postcommodity’s work opens at Remai Modern in Saskatoon, Canada. Duo Cristóbal Martínez and Kade L. Twist have long “injected Indigenous knowledge systems into the museum,” challenging its hermeticism and, here, Let Us Pray For the Water Between Us (2020, image) transforms an 8,300 L hazmat storage container into a drum with a motorized mallet sounding interior rhythms, reverberating calls for “respect, accountability, and transparency” in water stewardship.
Curated by Karie Liao, “Geofenced” opens at (and around) Toronto’s InterAccess. Presented on the artist-run centre’s steps, at a local parkette, microbrewery, and other sites, the show features AR works by Cat Bluemke & Jonathan Carroll, Scott Benesiinaabandan, Jenn E Norton, and Adrienne Matheuszik. The latter’s Proxima-B (2021, image) superimposes scenes from an “extraplanetary resort … free from the troubles of the earth” in the InterAccess gallery, at a nearby parking pad, and on a billboard.
Twitter user and Blockchain sleuth Zuwu shares an incriminating paper trail revealing a senior employee of the NFT platform OpenSea has been engaging in insider trading. In a Twitter thread they list a number of suspicious transactions from wallets connected to OpenSea Head of Product Nate Chastain—indicating purchases of NFT projects right before they were featured on the site’s homepage, and then corresponding sales when the price spiked. While unscrupulous NFT collectors engage in a range of dubious practices including scalping, bribing miners, and gas wars, this is the first instances of a major NFT platform employee being caught red-handed.
Huidi Xiang’s “How to Be an Artist in Minecraft” opens at Ender Gallery. A sculptor who became obsessed with the routine (and implicit labour) of Animal Crossing during the pandemic, Xiang’s Ender residency culminates with the presentation of a spreadsheet of every act she performed in Minecraft over a three-month period. Building construction, skin customization, tutorial creation, every minute of her residency—and for those that can’t visit in-game, note the complete log on the artist’s website.