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“Congratulations to everyone who wanted to be bankless, you got what you wanted.”
– American artist Addie Wagenknecht, subtweeting crypto enthusiasts as the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank wreaks havoc across the financial and the DeFi sector. On March 10, the California tech lender was shut down by regulators “after a stunning 48 hours in which a bank run and a capital crisis led to the second-largest failure of a financial institution in US history,” as CNN reports.
“I’m hoping we can move away from this single-minded effort to financialize everything and start trying to develop a more diverse economy that, by virtue of diversity, would be a more stable economy.”
– Science fiction author Neil Stephenson, on how Web3 needs to outgrow speculation. Discussing the metaverse (a term he coined in his 1992 novel Snow Crash), he notes that in virtual spaces “sooner or later people want to do something besides talk and do little emotes,” citing Epic Games’ Fortnite as striking a good balance of socializing and activity.
“Nobody said it was a democracy. The ‘will of the community’ is the will of whichever cartel or whale has the voting majority, not the will of the disgusting peasantry.”
– Pseudonymous crypto pundit @degenspartan, sardonically reminding everyone that money talks in DAO governance. “If you want more votes, buy more coins,” he adds, in response to concerns that the large stake of venture capital firm a16z could make or break community proposals guiding the decentralized Uniswap protocol.
“As each patron stepped up and withdrew from the ATM, their picture was taken, ranking them based on the amount of money left in their wallet. For the opulent at Basel Miami, is was the perfect piece to feed your hubris.”
– Critic Seth Hawkins, reflecting on Brooklyn collective MSCHF’s Art Basel Miami Beach intervention, and its lingering crypto winter significance
Rhea Myers
Proof of Work
A compendium of essays and fiction, artworks, and “blockchain provocations” produced by the pioneering conceptual artist over the last decade
“A premature extinction event occurs before we’ve flooded the universe with ‘value.’ We, then, shouldn’t spend money on global poverty: those resources should instead go to ensuring that we realize our ‘longterm potential.’”
– Philosopher and author Émile P. Torres, parsing the moral bankruptcy of longtermism, an ideology espoused by, for example, crypto fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried, who claimed to “get filthy rich, for charity’s sake.”
“From compromised system integrity and faulty regulatory oversight, to the concentration of control in the hands of a small group of inexperienced, unsophisticated, and potentially compromised individuals, this situation is unprecedented.”
– Lawyer and corporate restructuring specialist John Jay Ray III, bluntly assessing bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX
“They’ve contributed $73 million through June 30th of this year. That’s more than the oil and gas industry has put into politics, more than defence, and more than the transportation sector.”
– Campaign finance reporter Bill Allison, explaining how high-net-worth individuals from the crypto space (e.g. Sam Bankman-Fried) are U.S. midterm election megadonors. “They’re really focusing on Congressional races, and trying to influence the outcome of those races,” he continues, predicting industry friendly regulation in 2023.
“Ditch the pronouns and hit the gym, then you’ll realize the importance of Proof of Work.”
– Proverbial ToxicBitcoiner, coming after Kyle McDonald following his Coindesk interview. Speaking on Ethereum’s impending transition to the dramatically less energy-intensive proof-of-stake protocol, McDonald argued that “proof-of-work was never necessary,” and that “Bitcoin will never hit $69k again.” Bitcoin maxis were irritated, and have been harassing the American software artist since.
“He is suspected of concealing criminal financial flows and facilitating money laundering through the mixing of cryptocurrencies through the decentralized Ethereum mixing service Tornado Cash. Multiple arrests are not ruled out.”
– Netherlands Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD), on the arrest of developer Alexey Pertsev. A go-to transaction anonymizer used by money launderers, Tornado Cash also has benign use cases; the arrest and deplatforming of its developers has some asking “is writing open source code illegal now?”

“The Fable of Net in Earth,” the 2022 ARKO Art & Tech Festival kicks off in Seoul. Inspired by decentralization (mycology, Web3), it brings together Morehshin Allahyari, SunJeong Hwang, and Young Joo Lee, and others. Featured works include Eobchaecoin (2022), Nahee Kim’s unabashedly ponzi cryptocurrency (it will be very profitable in 2082), and De Anima (2018-21, image), Clara Jo’s film probing humanity’s relationship with nature, that draws on footage from Kenya, Myanmar, and France.

Cryptoheaven3 (2022), a CGI short imagining the “digital afterlife” of disgraced ponzi crypto exchange CEO Gerald Cotton, premieres at Milan Machinima Festival. After defrauding traders for $180 million the QuadrigaCX CEO died in 2018—Ukrainian artist Letta Shtohryn began making shorts about his idyllic posthumous adventures with The Sims 4, and this third iteration depicts Cotton’s arduous daily regime of “sunbathing, daily massages, and exotic cocktails.”

“The Byzantine Generals Problem,” a group show seeking consensus on crypto, opens at distant.gallery. Curated by Domenico Quaranta, the online exhibition features Sterling Crispin, Sarah Friend, Ben Grosser, Anna Ridler, and 10 others. Interrogative in tone, included works span Rhea Myers’ blockchain visualizations (2014-5), Kyle McDonald’s Ethereum carbon footprint calculations (2021), through a Web3 Dot Com Séance (2022, image) by Simon Denny and collaborators.

“If we had the Web3 dream world, it would be William Gibson with a concussion. It would be a really stupid cyberpunk hellscape—far dumber than the world we’re actually in.”
– Crypto skeptic David Gerard, imagining the (already wildly dystopian) Sprawl Trilogy plus brain injury, when asked to describe crypto’s ‘vision for the world’ by interlocutor Edward Ongweso Jr.
“The current Ethereum price crash is doing more for the environment than the planned move to PoS. Compared to just three weeks ago, estimated carbon emissions related to the ETH network have gone down by around 30,000 metric tons of CO2 per day.”
– Alex de Vries’ tech-skeptic research platform Digiconomist, on the upsides of the crypto crash
“I’m a licensed crypto trauma counselor and I’m here to help you process any feelings of grief, trauma, anxiety, and depression that you may be feeling at this time.”
– Anonymous THERAPIST, opening Julia Kaganskiy’s fictionalized account of “Crypto Therapy for Mixed Crypto Feelings,” a NFT counselling session co-created by Kyle McDonald and moderated by Dr. Michelle Kasprzak for STRP Festival on April 8, 2022
“It seems possible that too much globality in terms of trust leads to loss of granularity and silencing of difference, and too much locality leads to a disturbing filter-bubble effect.”
Sarah Friend, on turning trust into data. In her essay, published as part of Process and Protocol festival, the Canadian software artist digs into trust network taxonomies and reveals how Circles UBI, a community-based currency that Friend co-founded, applies “trust networks and decentralization to a social problem.”

“A Sea of Data,” German media artist Hito Steyerl’s first solo show in Asia, opens at Seoul’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA). Named after an e-flux essay by the artist, the exhibition includes 23 works, spanning 1990-2000s video art through her more recent (often iconic) installations. It also premieres a new commission: Animal Spirits (2022, image) is a sensor-driven animation of post-pandemic (human) conditions—from remote culture to decentralization.

“I think the obsession with immutability and stable identity, which is being imposed on commercial blockchain projects, is very un-cyberfeminist and it’s very un-Satoshi Nakamoto. So that’s definitely a site of a struggle.”
– Blockchain artist Rhea Myers, on tensions between ‘forever’ ledgers and fluid trans identities, during a conversation with McKenzie Wark
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