It broaches the chain of blocks (Blockchain) as a technical medium. Our approach is media- archeological. Media archeology can be defined as the science of the advent and obsolescence of media (i.e. recording, storage and data processing devices), of their effects on any discourse, writing and language, creation and art, and more generally culture. To assess these effects, media archeology studies the materiality and temporality peculiar to these media, but also in an external and internal way (the logic specific to the invention of media themselves).
A blockchain is a decentralised record of transactions. It is unforgeable and permanent. The blockchain stores, manages, and transmits information in a specific manner (peer-to-peer network, cryptography, timestamps…) which justifies we tackle it as a specific medium, which comes down to neither a computer, nor a network. Therefore, here we deal with the blockchain from its technical reality, and not only from its uses or even economic, legal and political consequences, which have been the most adopted angles so far.
Our research targets how the blockchain establishes the deployment of the potentialities of the digital medium, aiming at temporalizing space in human transactions. In this way, it participates in the archiving of the automated world which redesigns the conditions of building the social past and future (e.g. smart contracts), and thereby, the common world.
Any recording medium modifies human temporalities: writing, by the spatialisation of the thesis, has been the condition of a linear conception of time allowing to situate oneself in spatially figured temporal landmarks; the audio and visual recording media techniques, then the digital, lapse the understanding of the recorded information. Blockchain is a temporal medium, created to archive human transactions. Thus, in the digital archive of the blockchain, not only is there the time of understanding elapsed, but simultaneously, a social time determined by an archived past. In this way, it redefines a common space where the structure of time and the process of archiving reality (human and digital) make one.
We deal with how the media-technical design of the Blockchain affects our conception of time. Through the understanding of the materiality of the Blockchain, the programme (teachers and students) will explore this new construction of time, with art and design (experimentation, prototype, installation…), and define the contours of what could be a design of time, at the age of digital networks and cryptography.
Lines of Research
1. Exploration of the blockchain materialities (P2P, cryptography) through sonification and displaying of its own design, architecture and its temporalities. Making the Blockchain “speak”, “publishing” and “representing” its architecture will be one of our goals.
2. Exploration of its own logic of invention. For lack of knowing who “invented” it (which is perhaps not a coincidence), it remains to know how the blockchain emerged. Our hypothesis is that the true aim of the blockchain is hidden in its own design and own writing.
3. Taking account of the principle of tokenization, is it simply possible to design a chain of blocks which can deploy in an egalitarian way. Indeed, blockchains make the archiving of transactions rest on participants paid by the process of archiving itself (the token compensates their participation). This means a blockchain rests only on itself and auto-archives. In that case, its sturdiness depends on the competition between individual interests. Can it be otherwise? To answer this question, we propose to create an experimental cryptocurrency between art schools.
4. While in the age of technical reproductibility, the world of art thought the notion of original was finished, doesn’t the blockchain revive this notion we thought was lost? But, if the blockchain allows to assert that there can be, once again, an original to the media-technical and digital artwork (today, blockchain creates digital rarity), how do we keep blockchains? It is a matter of knowing what keeping a digital oeuvre means in the age of the blockchain
ECOLAB Research Professors : Lionel Broye (direction), Florent Deloison, Emmanuel Guez, Victor Guégan, Marie Lechner
Associate Students Researchers of the Advanced Research Degree (French DSRD) : Basile Jesset, Morgan Stricot
Research team: Lionel Broye (artist, teacher at Orleans School of Art and Design), Benjamin Cadon (La Labomedia, Orleans), Florent Deloison (artist, teacher at Orléans School of Art and Design), Baruch Gottlieb (Brandenburg University of Technology, Cottbus), Victor Guégan (graphic historian, teacher at Orléans School of Art and Design), Emmanuel Guez (artist, media theorist, director of the Orléans School of Art and Design), Lucile Haute (artist, lecturer, doctor of Fine Arts, ENSAD Lab and University of Nîmes), Serge Hoffman (artist, head of the digital department, ENSAV La Cambre, Brussels), Aude Launay (curator), Anthony Masure (head of the research department, HEAD-Geneva), Vincent Rioux (sound artist, head of the digital department, École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris), RYBN (artistic collective), Morgane Stricot (chief curator of the digital arts department, ZKM Karlsruhe).
Collège international de philosophie (Paris, France)
École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie (Arles, France)
École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels de La Cambre (Brussels, Belgium)
École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris
Haute École d’Art et de Design (Geneva, Switzerland)
La Labomedia (Orleans, France)
Brandenburg University of Technology (Cottbus, Germany)
ZKM (Karlsruhe, Germany)