Simon Denny

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The blockchain is Janus-faced. On one side its traits of transparency and decentralization promise much in terms of fairness and accountability, but on the other its monetary roots born as a financial payment system, albeit grounded in open-source software, mean its implementations are often stridently capitalistic. Furthermore, those involved in its development seem to oscillate between radical ethical standpoints and reductionist technological determinism. The blockchain engenders what has been called a “digital metalism” with the ability, like a modern philosopher’s stone, to transmutate life through a distributed ledger. That such a pecuniary minded technology is being touted as a new ...
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How did the internet go from the utopian free-for-all, open source heaven, libertarian last frontier to the current state of permanent surveillance, exhibitionism and paranoia? This duplicity is the underlying thread that links the artists, activists, and researchers in The Black Chamber, an exhibition, a symposium, an urban intervention and a publication. The Black Chamber aims at discussing the delicate and often awkward role of art and imagination in the age of mass surveillance, stressing the multiple connections between post-studio art and independent research, grassroots reverse engineering, and new forms of political activism in the age of networks. Not just an exhibition ...
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PublisherThe New Institute2022
How could we bring decolonial methodologies to blockchain? What is a “community-activating art practice”? And how, as we navigate the ascent of new technologies – which frequently fail to deliver on their ambitious aims – might we begin to distinguish pessimism from grief? In an open and vulnerable dialogue, Simon Denny talks with Alice Yuan Zhang about her work, which “weaves the bitsphere with the biosphere”. Alice in a media artist examining the relation between ecology and technology through feminist and decolonial lens – “exorcism” is her word of choice to describe leaving behind the dominant Western view on technology. In ...
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We never dreamt we would create the biennial as it occurred. Nor did we imagine we would be publishing this book two years later. The 6th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, as an exhibition, was never fully ours, just as this book is not fully ours either. We are merely a node in a network that feels the urgency for proper public reflection. A similar kind of urgency led us to devote our best efforts to an almost defunct biennial, which resulted in an exhibition of remarkable vitality created under exceptional circumstances. This publication is the outcome of a shared feeling ...
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PublisherThe New Institute2022
Between false hopes and facile critique, there is an emancipatory view of emerging technologies like blockchain. Jaya Klara Brekke reclaims this space for building the world that she wants to see. Her critical engagement with blockchain coincided with its rise to mainstream prominence, and she has remained a vital voice of critique ever since. From her perspective as a researcher, strategist and artist, she talks about the token economy, the impact of crypto on the wider monetary system, and the frequent futility of “good intentions” in the face of powerful social forces. Jaya’s research has focused on the political relevance of ...
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Morality is an invitation to reflect and debate situations in contemporary life that refuse clear distinctions between right and wrong, what is and what ought to be. As a whole, this project has been defined by a desire – inherent to contemporary art – to open spaces for active, engaged forms of spectatorship that are not predetermined by either moral or ideological imperatives. Morality is a provocative theme, especially in a world that is now determined by the experiences of war, displacement, political and economic crises, the rise of religious stereotypes, and the radicalization of seemingly old doctrines and ideologies. ...
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PublisherNew Models2020
We speak with Berlin-based New Zealand artist SIMON DENNY about mining of all kinds—mineral, digital, and social—as well as the extractive mechanisms that facilitate it and the power of those who conduct it. Denny’s “Mine” exhibition is currently on view at K21 in Düsseldorf (through 17 Jan 2021) and on the institution’s Minecraft server until… the internet comes to an end? This item is publicly available as part of the Library Stack Public Branch at NN Contemporary Art.
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PublisherSchinkel Pavillon2018
The explosion of interest in cryptocurrencies and distributed computing since Bitcoin’s emergence in 2009 has led to experiments in alternative governance structures, financing, and peer-to-peer networking. This shift has seeded a cultural conversation that has inspired great creative production on both sides of the traditional ars/techne divide. Staged in the Schinkel Klause – the Schinkel Pavillon’s labyrinthine lower floor and a former GDR restaurant – this exhibition brings together works engaged with the culture around Bitcoin and blockchain, entertaining crypto as a possible new infrastructure for money, computing, and organizing. This includes artwork made by crypto builders, crypto experiments built by ...
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“Seed Phrase” is a podcast about how technology, art, politics, money and power intersect – and how, through their convergence, the much-discussed Web3 could frame new spaces of possibility. The podcast is hosted by artist and THE NEW INSTITUTE fellow Simon Denny and recorded on site in Hamburg. The podcast delves into a wide breadth of topics: how we can use technology better; how art is reflecting the challenges of the digital world; how blockchain is both a problem and a promise; how decentralization actually works; how the commons provide the framework for a different economy; and how NFTs might figure ...
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PublisherThe New Institute2022
How can we reclaim what was and is the promise of Web3 – a decentralized form of organization, granting autonomy to actors outside the control of established power structures? How can we look critically at Web2, characterized by platforms like Facebook and giants like Google, corporate and commodified, and attempt to build in new directions, using technologies like blockchain outside the logic of digital capitalism? How can we use cryptocurrencies to create different market structures and possibly even deliver on the (as-yet unfulfilled) ideals of Web1? Seed Phrase is a series of conversations about Web3, hosted by the artist Simon Denny ...
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PublisherDroste Effect2017
Is our society busy with technological determinism? And how is contemporary art building social and cultural alternatives? In this perspective, technological innovation is observed in its social consequences and shaped by society itself. This paper tries to address these questions through the artistic practice of New Zealand artist Simon Denny, who we have followed and interviewed during the Political Populism exhibition at Vienna’s Kunsthalle.
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PublisherKunsthalle Wien2015
The exhibition The Future of Memory is accompanied by an e-book, available as a free download here. The publication introduces essays by Clint Burnham, Michael Connor, and Nicolaus Schafhausen, alongside a detailed presentation of the works exhibited in the show, written by co-authors Marie Egger, Emilie Lauriola and Vanessa Joan Müller. Digital communication and virtual interlacing shape our world today and influence our collective memory. Remembering the past, experiencing the present and imagining the future all meld to become part of a seemingly equivalent imagery in digital space. The Future of Memory critically challenges constructions of reality and investigates the conditions ...

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