Everything you’ve always wanted to know about the blockchain* (*but were afraid to ask Mel Ramsden)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


When art engages closely with still-emerging financial technologies such as the blockchain, cryptocurrencies, or smart contracts, there is a great opportunity to rethink established links between artist, art work, audience, and art market; links that have been contested and embattled for centuries, if not millennia. Since the blockchain is so far poised primarily to reconfigure the transaction and ownership models relating to information and other digital goods, perhaps most importantly it is the concept of the ‘value’ of art (in all its conflicted and conflicting permutations) that becomes available as a central node around which rich and productive debate can revolve. At a moment when algorithmic, computational, and generative processes are more deeply enmeshed with creative processes than ever before, we can thus ask ourselves (again): What is an author? What defines an art work? What are the (im-)material conditions of existence of a work of art as an embodiment of intangible qualities and values, required to define concepts such as originality, authenticity, and ownership? How can art-making resist the lure and demands of the market (but also: how can artists survive as part of the market)? None of these are new questions. However, one might hope that the blockchain, if it is as revolutionary and radical at it has been promised to be, will provide some new answers. Moving art onto the blockchain (or, at least, into close proximity to it) therefore seems a good way of opening up all sorts of interesting discussions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArtists re:thinking the blockchain
EditorsRuth Catlow, Marc Garrett, Nathan Jones, Sam Skinner
PublisherTorque and Furtherfield
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9780993248740, 9780993248757
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Blockchain
  • Conceptual art
  • Digital art
  • Media theory


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