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Max Haiven & Wassim Alsindi in conversation for Outland

On Bitcoin, time, and power.

Published onJun 04, 2024
Max Haiven & Wassim Alsindi in conversation for Outland

three Bitcorn cards

Head on over to Outland to read the conversation. Thanks to Brian Droitcour!

What kind of critical language can be used for understanding crypto markets? What are the ideological foundations of these technologies and communities? Do the critiques developed by theorists to address dominant institutions apply to phenomena developing at the margins? These are some of the questions that the writers and thinkers Wassim Z. Alsindi and Max Haiven grappled with in a conversation convened by Outland to address Ordinals and how existing critiques of Bitcoin and tokenized art might be applied to them. Alsindi is the founder of 0xSalon, a nonprofit initiative that organizes events and residencies for scholars and artists working critically with digital culture. Haiven runs the Reimagining Value workshop, which develops interdisciplinary methods of thinking about social justice and decolonization.

Haiven kicked off the conversation by reflecting on his 2018 book Art after Money, Money after Art, about the various ways in which the value created through social activity is captured; in the book, he engages with the concept of encryption but avoids an in-depth analysis of cryptocurrencies. This led to a discussion of crypto’s promise of an exit from a global economic system that is hostile to all but the wealthiest people on earth, how crypto appeals to people on the right and left seeking such a way out, and the challenges and risks of building systems that are radically different from the ones we have. The conversation is illustrated with images from Bitcorns, a financialized game that uses the Bitcoin-based protocol Counterparty, and Ordinal Miners, a series of AI-generated fantasy portraits of crypto miners. These projects play with agricultural and industrial imagery in ways that resonate with Alsindi and Haiven’s discussion of the class politics of blockchains. The illustrations also include cards from FAU0X SALON, an RPG deck created by 0xSalon.

The ‘They Live’ theory of Ordinals

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