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“Exploring the Decentralized Web – Art on the Blockchain” opens at Basel’s HEK (House of Electronic Arts), concluding the institution’s recent excursion into Web3. HEK’s Sabine Himmelbach and Boris Magrini gather some of crypto art’s finest including Simon Denny, Mario Klingemann & Botto, Sarah Friend, Chloé Michel, Rhea Myers, Operator, Lukas Truniger and others, to lay bare the politics and potentials of the metaverse. Of note: Kyle McDonald’s Amends (2022), a potent eco-critical work that’s on view for the very first time.
Basel’s House of Electronic Arts (HEK) opens “Collective Worldbuilding,” an international group exhibition of “Art in the Metaverse.” 16 artists including Ian Cheng, Simon Denny, Sarah Friend, Holly Herndon, LaTurbo Avedon, Jonas Lund, and Omsk Social Club explore how—or if—a decentralized internet advances self-determination. In her new video piece Untitled (2023, image), for example, Friend explores market edge cases and identity boundaries with NSFW (not safe for work) AI images fine-tuned on herself.
Jan Robert Leegte’s solo exhibition ”No Content: Contemplations on Software” opens at Upstream Gallery in Amsterdam, examining digital media through “the carrier and reality that holds it.” JPEG (2023), for example, is a series of algorithmic images that fully express the signature compression; Broken Images (2023) foregrounds the volatility of digital assets by minting broken links as NFTs, and Scrollbars (image)—a Leegte classic—presents obsolete interface elements as sculptural and cultural debris.
Creative economy thinker and entrepreneur Yancey Strickler shares his vision for metalabels, a new model for cultural production “like indie record labels for all forms of creative output.” Following a release proof-of-concept (a ‘record’ in his nomenclature), the Kickstarter co-founder maps creativity after platform capitalism. It entails a move away from lone creator-entrepreneurs to teams, protocol-driven compensation and ownership, and audiences that prioritize context over ‘content.’
Mario Santamaría’s solo show “Gárgola” opens at Centre d’Art la Panera, Lleida (ES), wedging two metaverses into one exhibition space. An architectural structure marks the exact plot of land the Spanish artist purchased in Next Earth, a virtual 1:1 reproduction of the planet, while suspended screens render a 13,5 billion light-years drop (the fall, 2022) into the Voxels Ethereum virtual world. A winding liquid cooling system further reminds viewers of computing’s (very real) materiality.
“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.
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