The blockchain idealizes decentralized and distributed knowledge, presenting ties to intersectional feminist theories and historical craft practices. Unfortunately, media attention around blockchain-based art reproduces certain biases in art discourse, focusing on North American and European production—predominantly male artists—and an economic rationality. In this talk, Charlotte Kent presents the problems and possibilities inherent in this emergent technology and suggests a material culture approach to the study of blockchain-based contemporary art. Bard Graduate Center (BGC) PhD candidate Michael Assis introduces Kent, explains how blockchain technologies have been utilized in artistic production, and places blockchain-based artistic practices in the greater history of art and material culture.
Charlotte Kent, PhD, is associate professor of visual culture at Montclair State University. She is an arts writer whose research contextualizes contemporary art, digital culture, and the absurd while addressing the theoretical implications of their current productions. Contributing to numerous arts and culture magazines and academic journals, she is also an editor at large for the Brooklyn Rail and co-editor with Katherine Guinness of Contemporary Absurdities, Existential Crises, and Visual Art (forthcoming, Intellect Books). She is a graduate of the CUNY Graduate Center, St. John’s College, Phillips Academy Andover, and the Writer’s Institute.

Michael Assis is a doctoral candidate at BGC. He specializes in the philosophy and theory of digital art and (new) media and is currently writing a dissertation on blockchain-based art. His research lies at the intersection of digital art history and material culture, science and technology studies, and media studies. Before entering the metaverse, Michael specialized in European medieval and Renaissance art, and holds a BA and MA in art history and philosophy from Tel Aviv University. Beyond academia, Michael is also the co-founder of Artfora, a Web3 platform that pairs physical objects with non-fungible tokens.

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