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DAOWO blockchain laboratory and debate series for reinventing the arts


In 2016 Ruth Catlow and Ben Vickers led the symposium, Blockchain’s Potential in the Arts, hosted by the Austrian Cultural Forum. This symposium sought to bring together individuals from across the arts nationally to highlight and discuss the potential future impact of blockchain and encourage early engagement.

The award-winning DAOWO series was subsequently devised by Catlow and Vickers in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut London, and the State Machines programme. It is intended as a form of active engagement in these rapidly unfolding technical and socio-economic developments. Its title is inspired by a paper written by artist, hacker and writer Rhea Myers called DAOWO – Decentralised Autonomous Organisation With Others.

What does blockchain mean for the arts?

‘What seems to emerge is a potential for blockchain to devolve mechanisms and processes for funding artists, as well as allowing various players in the arts ecosystem – artists, collectors, viewers, curators, and others – to define how they want to interact, with the possibility that sharing and artwork almost merge, or at least become as two sides of the same coin.”
U. Kanad Chakrabarti

Focused on establishing greater cooperation between the arts and blockchain industry, leading researchers and key artworld actors discuss the current state of play. DAOWO Discussions focus on potential cultural and social impacts, technical affordances and opportunities for developing new blockchain technologies for fairer, more dynamic and connected cultural ecologies and economies.

This series brings together artists, musicians, technologists, engineers, and theorists to join forces in the interrogation and production of new blockchain technologies. Our focus will be to understand how blockchains might be used to enable a critical, sustainable and empowered culture, that  transcends the emerging hazards and limitations of pure market speculation of cryptoeconomics.

As the DAOWO series unfolds each lab works across a spectrum of themes and domains of expertise, breaking down silos and assumptions about what these technologies might mean.

The aim is to birth a new set of experimental initiatives which can  reinvent the future of the arts as we know it.

DAOWO Summits UK 2019

1-6pm Thur 28 Feb – Inspace, Edinburgh, in partnership with Department of Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, New Media Scotland.

Edinburgh Programme Summary

Previous DAOWO Programme of Labs and Debates 2017-18

For more DAOWO activities see our Events page.