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Identity Trouble (on the blockchain)



14.00-17.30 – Workshop devised and hosted by Ruth Catlow and Ben Vickerswith Ramon Amaro, Ed Fornieles Thor Karlsson & Emily Rosamond

19.00-20.30 – Screening of the documentary My Name is Janez Janša (2012) Introduced by Ruth Catlow and Janez Janša


Identity Trouble (on the blockchain) is the second event in the DAOWO blockchain laboratory and debate series for reinventing the arts.

Identity is considered one of the hardest problems in the blockchain space, as it is here that it really matters how human and machinic systems connect. With the potential to fix and potentially impinge upon the relationship between our subjective sense of self, freedom to use multiple identities and our machine-assigned identities.

These difficulties span personal, social, technical and political domains. From a global perspective, blockchains have begun to be put forward as the most efficient and secure solution for providing identification to refugees and with it, access to basic social infrastructure such as healthcare, voting, financial and legal rights and services. As steps towards both national identity and global identity systems are being accelerated, perhaps most notably in Goal 16 of the UN 20 Global Goals, as being; “By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration”.

These drives sit in tension with fears about the increasing convergence of political and commercial control through identity technologies, tensions between: name and nym; person and persona; privacy, transparency and security; and the interests of the private individual and public citizen. All of which run counter to the proclamation that “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity”.

At the first DAOWO workshop we discovered more about current developments for blockchain application within the arts. At this event we seek to further challenge and reconsider the identity question in the context of the arts-blockchain ecosystem.

This workshop will be opened with a keynote by developer Thor Karlsson who will present Authenteq, an automatic identity verification platform and discuss his company’s approach to design for “trust and transparency in communications and transactions between users”.

This will be followed by a series of provocations by theorists and arts practitioners on cultural identity jamming, dangerous bias in the datasets that inform machine learning, and decentralised reputation management.

Laying foundations for the workshop in which we will work together to develop new stories about a set of characters living in the arts. How they operate and feel differently as the impact of blockchain technologies takes effect on their personal and professional role within the artworld.

Join us to describe what will go wrong? And what might just work?

Screening of the documentary My Name is Janez Janša (2012)

The system of reference of names started to crack … This made me reflect on issues such as identity vs identification, multiplicity vs multiplication, the name as an interface between the private and the public, and the personal name as a brand.” – Janez Janša, Director of My name is Janez Janša

Following the second workshop of the DAOWO series we present this film about names, identity and pseudonymity in a long history of academic, artistic and popular identity play for political and personal reasons. In 2007 three artists changed their names to that of Janez Janša, the then Prime Minister of Slovenia, whilst remaining ambiguous about their reasons. This documentary film reflects on the subjective and public meaning and utility of a person’s name and documents the interpretations and responses provoked by journalists, the general public and the “original” Janez Janša.

The Janez Janša® exhibition is on display at Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Ljubljana
18 October 2017 — 08 February 2018

Workshop Guests

Ramon Amaro
Ramon Amaro is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London; Research Fellow in Digital Culture at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam; and visiting tutor at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. Ramon has worked as a former Assistant Editor for Big Data & Society (SAGE), quality design engineer for General Motors, and programmes manager for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). His research interests include philosophy, machine learning, and black study.

Ed Fornieles
Ed Fornieles is an artist whose works are responsive to the movement of information. Fornieles uses film, social media platforms, sculpture, installation and performance to express the interaction of family, relationships, popular memes, language and the subcultures of 21st century experience. His work operates within the logic of immersive simulations, which construct and enact alternative political and social spaces. His projects often involve cultural, social, and infrastructural production, making interventions that reconfigure the viewer’s position and sense of self.

Thor Karlsson
Thor Karlsson is the lead backend developer at Authenteq, a privacy tool and identity verification platform for online services. With over six years of professional experience in .NET and Java, Thor works in backend systems with an emphasis on clean code, testability and optimization. Thor is currently focused on implementing core backend systems used for the Authenteq ID verification and face recognition platform.

Emily Rosamond
Emily Rosamond is a Canadian artist, writer and educator. She completed her PhD in 2016, as a Commonwealth Scholar in Art at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, and Joint Programme Leader on the BA Fine Art & History of Art. She exhibits individually and with the collective School of The Event Horizon.

The DAOWO programme is devised by Ruth Catlow (Furtherfield) and Ben Vickers (Serpentine Galleries & unMonastery) in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut London, and the State Machines programme.

This project has been funded with the support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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