Consensus algorithms: The social and political scope of blockchains is a workshop run by Jaya Klara Brekke curated by Francesca Baglietto with Banner Repeater.
This event is part of the exhibition What Happens to Us curated by Marsha Bradfield and Amy McDonnell.
Participants are very welcome to join the exhibition closing event starting just after the workshop from 5-8 pm.
The blockchain is a protocol that coordinates decentralised consensus across a network. It allows the global cryptocurrency Bitcoin to operate without the need of state authorities or banks to mediate trust, validate transactions or enforce terms of engagement. Beyond currencies, blockchain applications are currently being developed for many other areas of economic, political and social life that currently rely on official authorities for validation: identity, voting, land-registry and much more - with the claim to radically transform existing institutions and politics as we know it. But does a decentralised computational network guarantee decentralised power? How does computational consensus relate to social and political consensus? What about dissensus?
This workshop will take place in two parts: 1. Introduction to the blockchain for beginners - how it relates to governance, and an outline of the different consensus protocols currently in use; 2. A round table discussion and working session to further explore questions raised.
This workshop is organised with Banner Repeater, whose most recent exhibition A throw of the dice will never abolish chance, is named after Stephane Mallarmé’s poem “Un coup de dès jamais n’abolira le hasard”. The exhibition acted as a site to consider new ways of thinking through the centuries old puzzle of code, numbers and language. Banner Repeater held several workshops: Thinking through the Block, with invited speakers, Tom Clark, Paul Purgas, Alessandro Ludovico, Karen Di Franco, Ruth Catlow, Ben Vickers, Tom Pearson, Malavika Rajnarayan, Prayas Abhinav and Satya Gummuluri. The exhibition acted as a moving configuration that would continue to materialise in several forms throughout the exhibition period, with an online work hovering as a ‘holding page’ projected into the project space as a site of speculation for further works to develop. The workshops aimed to discuss the several, and possibly contradictory claims made regarding the blockchain, whilst developing a digital puzzle of our findings, that were inscribed, ascribed, and described through the block.
Consensus algorithms: The social and political scope of blockchains is organised as a part of the exhibition What Happens to Us curated by Marsha Bradfield and Amy McDonnell at Wimbledon Space, Wimbledon College of Arts from November 15th to December 9th 2016.
What Happens to Us
Wimbledon Space - Wimbledon College of Arts
Merton Hall Rd
15 November - 9 December 2016
Tuesday to Friday, 10am–5pm
Thursday 8 December, 5 - 8pm
Jaya Klara Brekke has been working at the intersections of research, design, technology and art for the past ten years with a recurring focus on the politics of infrastructure and design. She is currently in the process of writing a PhD on blockchain and governance at Durham University, Department of Geography in which the consensus protocols of three different applications and associated consensus protocols are compared and analysed in terms of power and governance. Previous to this she was the designer for the the FP7 European project D-CENT (Decentralised Citizen Engagement Technologies), co-designing digital participation tools with new citizen movements across Europe. Other projects include Flesh & Concrete in Mexico City, curating a series of installations and actions on the construction of a new megaproject highway; and City at a Time of Crisis an ESRC funded research project about the impact of the financial crisis on urban space in Athens, for which she amongst other things implemented an award-winning crowd-sourced map of racist violence in the city, and co-directed the documentary film Future Suspended.