Articles, Video

Beyond the “Blokechain”: the Cryptofeminist Agenda

DisCO.coop, December 16, 2019

MoneyLab#7 Session 4 BEYOND THE “BLOKECHAIN from Institute of Network Cultures on Vimeo.

Right now: imagine a self-sustaining currency. What would its payment system look like? What values define its sustainability? What kinds of ways of relating to people, things and the environment does it promote? Is it possible to be ‘rich’ or ‘poor’ within this system?

And now, imagine a cooperative, feminist and commons-oriented Distributed Cooperative Organization (DisCO). What does an organization which prioritizes mutual support, cooperativism and care work among people and the environment do? What does another day in such a DisCO look like? How could our modes of expression within such communities dismantle phallocentric systems? And what about putting feminist economics to practice by starting a people’s bank that works with (fin)tech to encode feminist values into its currency network. Yay or yay?

This session aims to open your mind. Andy Morales Coto tickles your imaginative bones by offering visual prompts to help us redesign the world’s economic future. Ruth Catlow explores the spaces of convergence between the Commons and P2P movements along with the world of cooperatives and the Social and Solidarity Economy. Denise Thwaites offers a feminist analysis of DAO cultures and the emergent affective economies they instate. And Ailie Rutherford shows how feminist economics can be put into practice on a daily basis by presenting her real and existing The People’s Bank of Govanhill.

Speakers: Andy Morales Coto, Ruth Catlow, Denise Thwaites, Ailie Rutherford.

Moderator: Rachel Falconer

A Crypto-diverse World

A narrative experiment will be presented to the audience: what if the world of currency was a biomimicry-infused melange of crypto-economic communities, freely exchanging value in ever-more-flexible, and self-sustaining ways? Andy Morales will explore this concept through the lens of design, offering visual prompts to entice all of us to think about diversity and the world’s economic future.

Andy Morales designs innovative products, services, and experiences, through the lens of play. For 9 years, she has used traditional storytelling and game design thinking to create new strategic opportunities for businesses and social movements. She was the first transmedia storyteller in Central America, co-founded the first Interaction Design program in the region, and her independent game design work has been featured in the New York Times. She currently works in decentralized technology, imagining and building equitable futures for our planet.

If I Can’t Dance: The DisCO Manifesto

Ruth Catlow presents the DisCO Manifesto by Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel. They discribe Distributed Cooperative Organizations (or DisCOs) as “a cooperative, feminist and commons-oriented reaction to the individualistic and techno-deterministic Decentralised Autonomous Organizations (or DAOs). DAOs are blockchain-based entities that execute payments, levy penalties, and enforce terms and contracts without human interaction. By contrast, a Distributed Cooperative Organization prioritizes mutual support, cooperativism and care work among people and is a practical framework for Open Value Cooperativism. These are locally grounded, transnationally networked cooperatives focused on social and environmental work. Open Value Cooperatives can be viewed as the experimental edge of the work of our allies in Platform Cooperativism movement, exploring convergences between the Commons and P2P movements along with the world of cooperatives and the Social and Solidarity Economy” (DisCO Manifesto).

Ruth asks ‘Why cooperatives now? Why Open Value Cooperativism? Why DAOs? Why Distributed?’ and looks at DisCO’s attention to local conditions and the corporeal bodies of those involved in the new joint ventures as an antidote to the otherwise abstract and dangerously necrotic mechanisms for interacting with ledgers that pervade the current DAOsphere.

Ruth Catlow is an artist, curator and researcher of emancipatory network cultures, practices and poetics. Artistic director of Furtherfield, a not-for-profit international community hub for arts, technology and social change co-founded with Marc Garrett in London, in 1996. She is co-editor of Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain (2017); curator of the touring exhibition New World Order (2017-18); with Ben Vickers she runs the award winning DAOWO arts and blockchain lab series. She is director of DECAL Decentralised Arts Lab, a Furtherfield initiative which mobilises research and development by artists, using blockchain and web 3.0 technologies for fairer, more dynamic and connected cultural ecologies and economies.

Dao Cultures’ Affective Economies Meet The Laugh Of Medusa

Decentralizing authority and power is an underpinning value for many involved in the DAO movement. Yet to what extent is the realisation of such intentions dependent upon cultural shifts that resist the formalism of these technical frameworks? In this presentation, Denise Thwaites will look to the work of feminist writers Sara Ahmed and Hélène Cixous to examine the affective economies emerging through DAO discourse. Through a particular DAO case study, she will explore how phallocentric systems that privilege particular expressions of accountability and transparency through practices of reputation requesting, DAO proposals, feedback and voting, may unintentionally marginalise diverse participation in these communities. Contrasting this to the affective economies that emerged through the clandestine phenomenon of Women’s Gifting Mandalas, Denise will present some of the challenges and opportunities identified by a particular group of crypto-feminists seeking to establish a She/HerDAO. In doing so, Denise will invite us to explore how the transparency and opacity inherent to DAO technologies, may be embraced to re-imagine new cultures of organisation.

Denise Thwaites is an Australian curator, researcher and educator working primarily on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country. Her curatorial practice interlaces digital and community engaged processes to examine and re-configure contemporary cultural economies and hold space for marginalised voices. She is an aesthetic theorist and daydreamer who publishes at the intersection of feminist technoscience, art and political theory. She is a member of the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research at the University of Canberra.

Encoding Feminist Values

Artist Ailie Rutherford will talk about her work on The People’s Bank of Govanhill, a feminist community currency project and long-term collaborative social artwork in Glasgow, Scotland. From the project’s beginnings as a series of currency experiments, charting of local exchange networks, employing artistic means to construct a feminist understanding of our local economy, Ailie will discuss how the work has grown into a collective endeavour with the setting up of Swap Market exchange space.

The People’s Bank of Govanhill is looking at incorporating new digital technologies into their work, and how we can encode feminist values into a community currency network. Bringing together academics, activists and artists to investigate the issues and potentials in crossing feminist economics with technologies such as blockchain, asking how we might work with new tech to the ensure bias and prejudices of today are not coded into the tech of the future.

Ailie Rutherford is a pioneering visual artist and agitator. For over twenty years she has been collaborating and inviting people to become co-producers of work, activate public space and collectively imagine productive alternatives to the way we live. Her work explores the relationship between community activism and creative practice, deliberately provoking and asking difficult questions in order to propose new models for living and working together. Initiated by Ailie in 2015, and now collectively run, The People’s Bank of Govanhill is a long-term social artwork and feminist community currency project in Glasgow, looking at how feminist economics can be put into practice on a daily basis.


Originally published by the Institute of Network Cultures.

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