Blockchain Lab

Online June 2019 – Ongoing

Supporting network development between visionary artists, cultural workers, blockchain entrepreneurs, as well as local initiatives, communities, institutions and businesses to foster new translocal and transnational systems and an ethos of global cooperation within the arts.

Led by Ruth Catlow, co-founder of Furtherfield and DECAL, the Blockchain Lab builds on the experiences of DAOWO — the award-winning blockchain programme for reinventing the arts. Spearheaded by Ruth Catlow and Ben Vickers, Serpentine’s Chief Technology Officer, the first series of events ran in 2017-18 in collaboration with the Goethe Institut London, with international artists, engineers, crypto-economists, musicians, technologists, and theorists joining forces to understand how blockchain technologies – cryptocurrencies, distributed ledgers and smart contracts – could enable a critical, sustainable and empowered culture. This was later followed in 2019 by the Blockchain & Art Knowledge Sharing Summit UK in collaboration with Digital Catapult, which examined the cultural sector opportunities available for working with blockchain technologies.

The mission of the Blockchain Lab is to support network development between visionary artists, cultural workers, blockchain entrepreneurs, as well as local initiatives, communities, institutions and businesses to foster new translocal and transnational systems and an ethos of global cooperation within the arts.

In June 2019, the Blockchain Lab, in collaboration with artist Penny Rafferty, hosted the Artworld DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation) Think Think that brought together key protagonists to create roadmaps for three early-stage artworld DAOs, and to discuss, analyse and map the obstacles, opportunities and implications for progressive artworld automation. Participants participated in a 52hr programme that used uncanny working methods and a toolkit of technical introductions, theory, bodywork, thinking, talking, and breakaways.

Catlow and Rafferty led a second Artworld DAO Think Tank hosted by Goethe Institut London in February 2020 with leading international artists, blockchain developers, and directors of arts venues from Athens, Berlin, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Minsk, Moscow and Singapore. Six prototype Artworld DAOs are now in development, each mobilising networks and responding to the immediate priorities and cultural contexts of their cities. The prototype DAOs will be showcased at the Global Artworld DAO conference planned for Haus der Kunst, Munich in Spring 2021. The Artworld DAO Reader by Catlow and Rafferty will be published in late 2020. This book is a manifesto, a manual, a meditation and a magical system for translocal artworld cooperation and reinvention.


2019 – OngoingDECAL Decentralised Arts Lab, a Furtherfield initiative 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. Projects include CultureStake the web-based quadratic voting and connection system for decentralised cultural decision-making and investment; A Blockchain Art History Timeline, an experimental timeline of blockchain and crypto art on the blockchain created using decentralised technologies for collective curation; a series of data ethics research LARPs.

2017 – 2019 – DAOWO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation With Others), the award-winning blockchain lab and debate series for reinventing the arts, Furtherfield, Serpentine Galleries, and Goethe Institut London. 2019 UK Summits in partnership with University of Edinburgh and Digital Catapult London.

2018 – Ethereal Summit, Art Grants Ruth Catlow, judge and co-curator with Sam Hart.

2017 – Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain. Eds Ruth Catlow, Marc Garrett, Nathan Jones, Sam Skinner. Published by Furtherfield and Torque Editions. Distributed by Liverpool University Press, UK.

2017 – NEW WORLD ORDER exhibition and European Tour by Furtherfield Gallery as part of the State Machines programme. It featured Plantoids by O’khaos, Bad Shibe by Rob Myers with illustrations by Lina Theodorous, and Terra0’s self-owning forest.

2016 – The Blockchain – Change Everything Forever a short film that asked what a blockchain could do, and who creates the new society? Furtherfield in partnership with Digital Catapult London.

2016 – Blockchain’s Potential in the Arts symposium for arts and culture researchers and policy makers, led by Ruth Catlow and Ben Vickers at Austrian Cultural Forum.

2015 – The Human Face of Cryptoeconomies, exhibition at Furtherfield Gallery, featuring FaceCoin by Rob Myers, and Building the Activist Bloomberg Terminal by Brett Scott.

2015 – Art Data Money, Furtherfield’s programme of exhibitions, labs and debates to develop a commons for the arts in the network age.


Partners and Networks

Serpentine Galleries, Furtherfield, DECAL, Goethe-Institut London, Austrian Cultural Forum, Digital Catapult London, University of Edinburgh, Department of Design Informatics

Ethereal Summit/ Consensys, BlockRocket, A*nA, Zien, Arteia

Guild, Trust, Berlin, Torque Editions,, Full Node, Berlin,Left Gallery, Supermarkt Berlin, DGov, Radical XChange, Gray Area, Nice Awards

FACT, NEoN, Leeds International Festival, Arebyte, FutureEverything

State Machines, NeMe, Drugo More, Aksioma, Institute of Networked Cultures/ MoneyLab, Para Site

Liverpool University Press, University College London, Department of Engineering, University College London, Department of Art History, City University of London, Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design


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