Accelerationism Aesthetics Art Crypto Politics

The Entropy Man


D16 Hex Dice by Saharasav licensed Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

The Dice Man” by Luke Rhinehart is a 1971 novel about the moral consequences of making life-altering decisions using the roll of a die. The use of chance operations in art was common in mid-20th-Century avant-gardes but, reacting against his background in psychiatry, Rhinehart applied them to more consequential decision making.

We can use cryptographic hashes rather than dice as the source of entropy for aleatory, chance operations in art and decision making. The last hexadecimal digit (or digits, for wider ranges of values) can be quantized to the range of values we need: e.g. for a coin flip 0-7 is tails and 8-F is heads.

Private hashes can be the sha256 of a question, statement, or range of options. Or of entropy pulled from /dev/random or a hardware source. Combine these two approaches or use a timestamp to make answers specific to the occasion or time at which they are asked.

Public hashes can be Bitcoin’s block hashes, or the hash of a Bitcoin transaction. The transaction can be time locked or contain the question (etc.) encoded as a has to delay and/or allow proof or disclosure of its content.

Or we can use any of these methods as the decision making basis for computer based or handmade generative art, replacing software pseudo-random number generators with entropy deterministically derived from the existing content of the work or from external sources of “inspiration”.

It’s much more contemporary than a dice, although dice do make good sources of artisanal entropy.


Entity Hash IDs

Some schemes for encoding non-monetary information using Bitcoin (or other cryptocurrency systems) require identifiers to be encoded as addresses.

By encoding ontologies and vocabularies en masse in this way and publishing the source for each stage of the encoding we can produce a public registry and dictionary to be used in encoding messages.

(This also works for OP_RETURN in Bitcoin and for contract data in Ethereum, but we start with the lowest common denominator that also entails the widest range of representations.)

First, create a source identifier. For example we can represent Andy Warhol by Getty ULAN number:


Or the act of painting using a WordNet synset:


Or the relationship of being the maker of something expressed as an RDF url:

Then we follow the standard scheme for creating a Bitcoin address, starting at step 2 here:

This is so we have both a sha256 and RIPEMD-160 representation of the identifier that we can publish along with a Bitcoin public address version, making the source identifier quicker and easier to locate.

Once we’ve published these representations, we can use them to refer to entities using cryptocurrency transactions (for example sending sequential transactions from a vanity address) and anyone can recover the subject. They become public, common identifiers that can be used on the blockchain.

If instead we wish the representations to be secret or we wish to establish a namespace, we can salt the encodings by prepending a Bitcoin address or public key (that can sign transactions), a cryptographically sound piece of entropy (that we need not disclose), or a . Hierarchical deterministic wallet key addresses can be used either for additional security or as a clock to establish message order.

As with Git hashes, we can use just the last few characters of the hash to refer to it. This allows a single hash worth of storage space to refer to (for example) four different other hashes, either by concatenating the hashes directly (with or without a checksum or the last few characters of a signature attached) or by hashing them to produce a value that is recoverable but secret to the extent that it is salted (with entropy or an HD wallet key as above).

Any of these representations can be used in Bitcoin addresses or as OP_RETURN values, as the equivalent in other cryptocurrencies, or in Ethereum storage cells. They provide a flexible means of naming and refering to entities in a variety of cryptographic systems.

Art Crypto

Ethereum Standardized Art Contract API

(Sketch from September 2015, unpublished until now.)

The Ethereum project allows you to create arbitrary smart contracts to run on its blockchain). To ensure that those arbitrary contracts can communicate where they need to, they have published a list of standard contract interfaces:

These standards allow different coins, registries, data feeds and other common contracts to communicate with and use each other in a well understood way.

Let’s extend this to art contracts, starting with a smart artwork. Next we’ll cover exhibitions and reviews.

These interfaces are applicable to contracts other than for art. Feedback and suggestions on how to generalize them gratefully received.

Purchaseable Artwork

A smart contract artwork either embodies an artwork in itself, represents or controls some aspect of an artwork, or contains or is a proxy for it in some way.

The contract’s owner is expected to be the artist, and not to change. “Ownership” of the artwork is recorded within the contract.



offer(address _purchaser, uint _price, uint _until)

Only callable by the artwork owner. This is separate from the contract owner.

Offer the work for sale. The _purchaser address can be zero, in which case anyone can buy the artwork. The _price can be zero, in which case the _purchaser need not send any funds. And _until can be a UNIX timestamp in the past, in which case the artwork is not actually for sale. Zero works well for this.


purchase() returns (bool _success)

If the caller matches the _purchaser (or it is set to zero), sends enough ether to match _price (or price is zero), and the offer has not expired, the caller becomes the new owner of the artwork.


purchaseFee() return (uint8 _percentage)

The percentage of the purchase price that goes to the contract owner (the artist) rather than the purchaser. A functional equivalent to the ‘Artist Resale Right’.


setPurchaseFee(uint8 _percentage)

Callable only by the contract owner.

This sets the percentage of the purchase price that will go to the contract owner rather than to the purchaser. It can be set to zero.



Offered(address seller, address purchaser, uint price, uint duration)

The artwork was offered for sale by the current owner of the artwork, recorded as seller.


Sold(address seller, address buyer, uint price)

The artwork was sold by seller to buyer for the price given in Ethers.

Exhibitable Artwork

An exhibitable smart contract artwork separates out the capability to exhibit the artwork from simple ownership and places it under the contract’s control.



exhibit(address _at, uint _duration) returns (bool _success)

Mark the work as exhibited at (address) for _duration seconds from success of the transaction, if the caller sends sufficient Ether to cover the exhibition fee.

The address the work is exhibited _at can be privileged by the specific implementation of the contract (for example, a web server can allow access only from an address that can sign requests with the _at address key).


exhibitFee() returns (uint _fee)

The number of Ether per second payable as an exhibition fee. Zero means that exhibition is free.


setExhibitFee(uint _fee)

Callable only by the contract owner.

This sets the number of Ether per second payable as an exhibition fee. It can be set to zero.



Exhibited(address indexed at, uint duration)

The artwork was exhibited at the given address for duration seconds.

Art Crypto Projects

Facecoin at Moneylab2


Facecoin by Rob Myers” by Paul Ros, licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Hot on the heels of its appearance at “The Human Face of Cryptoeconomies“, Facecoin is featuring in the “Trading Floor” exhibition at Moneylab2 on Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th December 2015 at Pakhuis De Zwijger in Amsterdam.

Lots of great people are speaking at the event, and I’m very proud that Facecoin is part of it. You can find out more in Femke Herregraven’s awesome programme booklet.

Crypto Projects


Parahash is a command line tool that titles paragraphs with their hashes (and the entire document with the hash of those hashes). It handles a subset of Markdown and tries to ignore formatting that shouldn’t effect the identity of the text (extra whitespace, emphasis, hyperlinks).

You can control the represention and length of the hash, so:

Paragraph one.

Second paragraph.

Final paragraph.

can become anything from:

# f104ee138a2cf14e5af642647c7f28111240c66ebee50e00c222a9a435c12e40

## dbcba560ab93aa79c7e358a69848177ed0b52365f631c40ca4db070a2e319e96

Paragraph one.

## 3fc3deaa2b3609eb7d096478e4e522fc071348be1b8e116ce204cff63c08af80

Second paragraph.

## 5b8a59d072daef094e33b457e9638b8dd46de361db618e1baac29ce7b31259b5

Final paragraph.


# hahaz-gimuv-somom-vajaz-kuroj-honah-zudul-dibof

## razot-bojip-givop-nunop

Paragraph one.

## gazug-poput-kusof-rolob

Second paragraph.

## pavoj-biloj-piral-nasuv

Final paragraph.

Why would you want to do this? Well, it’s more useful than numbering them. 😉

Art Crypto Projects

Blockchain Aesthetics – Meshes



I’ve added some three.js renderings to Blockchain Aesthetics. You can show live or arbitrary hashes, in a variety of forms, and save them in 3D printable forms.

See here for blocks.

And here for transactions.

Source code here.

Art Crypto Projects

A DAOWO Reading List

Cover image by Martin Grandjean, 2014, Licensed Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike.

Here’s some suggested reading around the concepts involved with DAOWO.


DIWO – Do It With Others: Resource – Furtherfield.

DIWO: Do It With Others – No Ecology without Social Ecology – Ruth Catlow & Marc Garrett.


11 Best Reads For Learning About Decentralized Applications – Tom Kysar.

What Does it Take to Succeed as a Decentralized Autonomous Organization? – William Mougayar.

Blockchain – Melanie Swan.

From Bitcoin To Burning Man And Beyond – Ed. John H. Clippinger & David Bollier.

Bitcoin And Philosophy (Book coming soon.) – Nick Land.

Money Lab Reader – Ed. Geert Lovink, Nathaniel Tkacz &Patricia de Vries.

Decentralized Applications (Coming soon.) – Siraj Raval.

Much soul, very emotion: Why I buy into the cult of Dogecoin – Brett Scott.

Conceptual Art, Cryptocurrency And Beyond – Me.

The ABC of Accelerationist Blockchain Critique – Me.

My Little Penny – Bitcoin Is Magic – Me.

Art Crypto Projects


Cover image by Martin Grandjean, 2014, Licensed Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike.

Furtherfield have created a beautifully designed pamphlet of a whitepaper that I wrote for them about combining cryptoculture with participatory art shows.

DAOWO – DAO it With Others

DIWO (Do It With Others) is a distributed campaign for emancipatory, networked art practices instigated by Furtherfield in 2006.

A DAO is a Decentralised Autonomous Organization, effectively a corporation or a charitable trust implemented in networked computer code.

Both are decentralised. A DAO has no single point of failure on the network, existing on the blockchain. A DIWO event is organised online and open to participants worldwide.

Both are an application of network technology to social organization. A DAO implements a corporation, charity, club or co­operative. A DIWO event organizes artists, curators and writers to produce and exhibit work together.

Both are rule driven and participatory. A DAO consists of trustless, incorruptible code that serves the interests of its members or clients. A DIWO event is a themed open call for artworks.

Both are ways of managing scarce resources. A DAO manages resources such as a cryptocurrency token or the lock on a door. A DIWO event allocates the productive efforts and attention of an audience and the display space of a gallery.

A DAOWO would be a combination of the two ­ Decentralised Autonomous Organization With Others.

For the full download, see the link that says “Download the full paper here“.

Art Crypto Culture Projects

Art Data Money

title: Art Data Money


Art Data Money is Furtherfield‘s new programme of art shows, lab events and debates.

“Art Data Money aims to build a commons for arts in the network age, and invites people to join us and discover new ways for cryptocurrencies and big data to benefit us all.”

I’ve art and writing in the programme, which brings together some of the themes I’ve been working on for the last few years. Take a look, download a manifesto, join the conversation and buy some re-de-enclosed 3D printed readymade art for Bitcoin.

Crypto Magick

My Little Penny – Bitcoin Is Magic

“Change for the machines.” – Synners, Pat Cadigan

Theodor Adorno regarded the occult as a politically quiescent denial of alienation through a regression to animism.

“Occultism is a reflex-action to the subjectification of all meaning, the complement of reification. If; to the living, objective reality seems deaf as never before, they try to elicit meaning from it by saying abracadabra. Meaning is attributed indiscriminately to the next worst thing: the rationality of the real, no longer quite convincing, is replaced by hopping tables and rays from heaps of earth.”
– Theses Against Occultism, Theodor Adorno

And this is true, although as always it would be wrong to attribute a more general feature of human psychology uniquely to a single religion.

The Baudrillardian Disneyland of religion is the cargo cult, in which Melanesian islanders re-enact the long-ago observed activities of departed American troops in order to cause the vehicles that delivered wartime supplies to return. To the outside observer it is obvious that both the occult and cargo cults fall foul of the distinction between correlation and causation.

The occult, like philosophy, suffers from the semantic fallacy. This is the equivalent of the pathetic fallacy for meaning, the projection of cognitive structures of logical rather than emotional significance onto the external environment. Magick extends this with the adolescent male power fantasy of imposing one’s will directly on reality, of reducing the amount of work one has to do to get what one deserves. In this it resembles economics.

Modern economics uses statistics to model reality. Samples are drawn from populations, and various tests are used to ensure that conclusions about these samples accurately represent the wider population. Policy based on these conclusions can then be applied to the general population safe in the knowledge that they will almost certainly only be wrong a specified percentage of the time. Statistics is the state religion of economics, bringing revelation and absolution back from the numeric plane.

In “Qabbala 101”, Nick Land describes the assumptions of Kabbalic gematria. It is possible to detect a signal from outside the system from traces within the system. And this can be done using mathematics to find the contingent numeric properties of words, by counting their length or by mappings of their consonants to numeric values. In this way the text can refer outside the text. Get the numbers right and you get your cargo or impose your will. To an outside observer the obvious problem with gematria is that there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

The popularity of cryptocurrencies represents in no small part a reaction to the financial crisis and austerity. That reaction takes the form of a retreat from conventional economic and political action, and represents at least an economic occult. A de-supernaturalised magic (like a de-supernaturalised economics…) has a cognitive remainder. It is a means of modulating human experience and affecting human behaviour. Belief in imaginary entities, whether thoughtforms or money, is not necessary for them to have effect.

Without the coercive power of the state backing them, cryptocurrencies’ re-enactment of the rituals of fiat currency amount to cargo cults. In their attempt to circumvent the work of economics and banking they resemble magick. But in their use of mathematics they resemble the Kabbalah. Accounts and transactions in Bitcoin are represented and protected using cryptographic hashes, a way of using mathematics to both conceal the content of and prove the identity of a piece of information. This takes place in the blockchain, a data structure built and validated by machines across the Bitcoin network. The blockchain is a fiat currency hors-texte, a monetary outside.

The Bitcoin protocol that constructs the blockchain is a set of meaningful actions that are the embodiment and amplification of human intent. It is a ritual. As with copyright in AI, the benefit of intent accrues to its human initiator. This isn’t the first time a massively distributed electronic ritual has taken place, the Dalai Lama pointed out in the 1990s that having Avalokitesvara’s mantra on your hard disk is like having a prayer wheel on your computer. In the case of Bitcoin this ritual consists of the endless mathematical and network operations that build the blockchain.

This is why Bitcoin is magic. Get the numbers right and you can signal outside the system. Get the numbers right and you can map the results back onto society from the numeric plane. Get the numbers right and you will receive the cargo you ordered. It’s a ritual to transform society.

Via Netbehaviour, last year.