Solarpunk: Is it time we dared to believe?

 

An endless stream of disaster stories keeps us busy. Eternally. And it’s robbed us of faith in any good shared futures. But could we yet light a candle for something better than a new Utopia?

 

I know. We can’t afford to dream. It’s not what you have time for on the front line. Which I think we’re all on, mentally, in a networked society like ours. Which means we’re all feeling a. lot.

Hearing from a friend in Delhi these past two days brought home the realism of the images from India across our news feeds. He works in a hospital there and simply confirmed how fiercely the Covid emergency is overwhelming care capacity. He thinks infection and death rates are way higher than the official terrible figures. But it was his tone, in simple text, that brought us up short, feeling it from him. He sounded hopeless. Not out. But soul-drained.

Do you feel soul-drained? Whether you’re practical front line or not. As a nurse, doctor, teacher, police officer, how could you not be? But as an events organiser, a performer, an artist? You’ve had your own kind of helpless for 14 months. And if you work in local government, trying to administer local life at all possible scales with dwindling public investment in what you do? I can’t imagine the grind, hidden away. Now talk to me as a social message board moderator. How is your faith in humanity?

And this is all before you or loved ones have actually experienced Covid.

And all this is just Covid. You know enough about the climate crisis to not want to look at it.
 

But can we live like this? And are we supposed to? What do you imagine a better world actually looking like?

If you feel you daren’t even talk this way, I feel the same. Especially because I am no decent activist. I’m no rebel. I’m too reasonable and to easily part of the sleeping problem.

But is there a habitual reason you and I find it impossible to squarely, boldly picture a more hopeful human tomorrow? One that’s got little to do with realism after all?

And is there a practical alternative to the cyberpunk dystopia we’re all just accepting as inevitable? Is corporate techno-global non-democratic misery all that lies ahead? Deeper addictions, deeper sleeps, deeper fears, worse abuses?

Or dare we believe another world IS possible?

If we can picture it?

In my special new episode of Unsee The Future, I look at a topic that I’ve been ruminating on for a couple of years. And I wonder if it’s a way of seeing the future that could change everything.

Is it an art movement, an environmental movement, a political movement? All of them and something beyond. The reason I think it could be the beginnings of a whole new story of us is that it isn’t a new Utopia at long last – it’s something better.

I think it’s time we all introduced ourselves to Solarpunk.

It could change the way you put faith in the human future. By realising that – duh! – faith, like confidence, is built by doing.

Unsee The Future EP31: Solarpunk. This is very definitely just a beginning.

 

UTF31: SOLARPUNK – FIND THE COMPLETE BLOGPOST AND PODCAST HERE >

Beats working – can future tech learn a lot from how music is wired?

 

Is there a corner of the technology sector that has been taking everyone else to school without sounding off about it?

 

PARTs 1–3 COMBINED.

 

This Easter weekend don’t feel bad about sugar. It’s been nature’s honey trap for millions of years – it’s exactly how the bees do it, tempted in with sweet sweet nectar to fill their boots and spread the flower love. You’re wired to want it.

Just like you’re wired to want what tech is seducing you with. If only it was to help life bloom.

There is a view of technology as one of the very roots of our age of crisis. It’s my view. Of a dominant culture of tech as we mostly have to work with it. Only, musicians have been working with it rather differently, and for a long time.

Which it’s taken me, a synth nerd, a long time to realise could teach the world to sing very differently, as we try to picture human tech futures.

 

Uncosmic Highs

You might have camped outside the Applestore in your time, but I think what we’re all judging you on there, as we join you in the queue, is that you’re hooked on the eternal promise of “better” and the dirty addictive hit of shiny and new. Which you know. I’d argue, as I trample you through the doors, that we’re a globalised culture of addicts to a very unhealthy view of the world – a robot world view, built by a kind of cult of engineering. Not of flower power.

But while our shared economics might have been driven significantly by the push to make and improve and throw away products with no instincts to biological, social or emotional contexts, music technology developers have quietly made some remarkable examples of how we COULD do it.

Matt Ballentine asked me to appear on the WB40 Podcast this week, and tempted me with this idea. One I’d not thought about at all before: “How did the big music technology companies get everyone to sign on to the development of MIDI? And why has it lasted so well?

Musical Instrument Digital Interface sounded like the 1980s were going to finally kill music. Many classically trained musicians and a lot of guitarists thought so at the time and had car stickers to prove it. Even I, as a teenager discovering I that I felt oddly drawn to those already creepy sounding 70s synth hero records that were saturated with the arpeggios of ancient-seeming modular systems and the woody tape glitch of echo boxes and Melotrons – even I thought the new sixteen-channel five-pin sync system seemed just too reductive and plastic and soulless to do much for wild musical creativity.

But MIDI is now essentially forty year old technology. And still connects products by all the world’s manufacturers so that gear heads can run hugely complex live set ups and all finish on the same streamer cannon pop.

This is not how Apple does it. How Microsoft does it. TV manufacturers might share HDMI leads but they certainly don’t share app platforms for watching the shows made by different content studios. But all the soft and hard music technology names expect you to mix up everyone’s products and get creative.

How did they do it? 

I’d say forget thinking like tech or business. Look at the wider human context the work is being developed in.

 

Part 2

Are you selling a product or creating an experience? As the history of music tech often shows, good design thinking can’t help but foster collaboration, because it taps into the same thing as any storytelling – shared emotional context.

 

It’s hard to see much difference between the nerdy, open-minded enthusiasm of some computer giant founders in the late 60s and that of music pioneers at the time. There are always big corporations setting standards and scrappy young upstarts blindsiding them by spotting a passionate opportunity, and passions were running high in the summers of late modernism, dreaming of new social, environmental and technological freedoms. But maybe there is one key difference in the experiences these two market groups created. A musical instrument is made to make music. Computing tech is made to do a million other practical things as well.

Music is a transportive, emotional, ineffable encounter with your feelings. Whatever the theory, practice, coding or soldering that enables your fingers to make sound, the point of all of that is to lift the soul or jump start the imagination. It’s not project management software.

After Covid, millions of us are longing for the experience of sharing music in a big crowd again, because it can – when it works – make group experience memories that shape part of your identity. When you’re using music tech to actually make that music with other people, it can help you feel born to do it. It adds up to a flow that can’t be measured by the sum of its parts. At least up until Steve’s solo.

Now, at this point you might rightly be deeply cynical about the music business, most passionately if you’ve ever been part of it probably – “one big ponzy scheme” as Matt reported a 70s music person saying to him once, off air on last week’s WB40 podcast that sparked all this. But as I heard Factory Records legend Tony Wilson say directly: “People think industry execs go to work for the money and musicians go to work to live near the art. Let me tell you, in my experience it’s more often the other way around.”

I wonder if this was much of the energy driving Ikutaro Kakehashi – founder of Roland, and perhaps the key instigator of the development of resiliently effective universal synchronisation system MIDI.

He was not musically trained, and like me had a passion for music anyway. But I also can’t help wondering about his even deeper emotional context, as to why he pushed to make musical instruments that would enable millions of people to take part in creation – and an open source technical interface to power it.

 

Making connections.

Young Ikutaro’s parents both died of disease when he was young. Tuberculosis. Raised by grandparents, exploring an interest in electrical engineering during much of his childhood, his home was destroyed by allied bombing during the war. He failed to get into university on health grounds and moved to a new city to open a clock repair shop. Moving back to Osaka to try for university again he experienced the city’s mass food shortage and caught TB himself, finding himself in a sanitarium for years and eventually feeling improved health thanks to clinical tests of a new drug effectively donated to him for trial. Loving radio, that evocative combination of music and engineering and far off places, and fixing home organs on the side, at 28, so the story goes, he opened a new store, determined to develop the ideal electronic musical instrument.

If you want to know why, in 1980, Kakehashi approached various instrument makers to help him work up a new interface for electronic instruments – thankfully including Dave Smith of Sequential Circuits, based across the Pacific in San Francisco – and how he convinced the bosses of Kawai, Yamaha and Korg to join in, I think it seems a bit clearer in his personal context: The lack of shared standards was not only holding back business technically but keeping out a lot of potential new music makers. Untrained, technically excluded, passionate artists in waiting. Who just might find common creative language in future facing music, no matter where in the world they were from.

After co-launching MIDI by hooking up a Roland JP-6 with a supposed rival Sequential Prophet 600, with Smith, to gasps at NAMM 1983, his products under Roland and Boss went on to define a new era of inclusive music making and, with MIDI, essentially unlocked epic worlds of creativity to my generation of unschooled dreamers.

Big business finds it eternally hard to stay collegiate, of course. Yamaha bought Dave Smith’s iconic Sequential company in 1989 and shut it down. But twenty five years later, it was an elderly Ikutaro Kakehashi who convinced the technology giant to simply give the name back to Smith to bring back the legendary brand of the Prophet V. Allegedly saying: “I feel that it’s important to get rid of unnecessary conflict among electronic musical instrument companies. That is exactly the spirit of MIDI.”

Imagine if Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Google… name them all, acted like this from the centre.

 

Part 3

Right to repair isn’t even a thing in most tech on Earth in 2021, yet music tech seems to go way beyond it – to cherishing technical heritage as a generationally relevant relationship. And, oh yeah, most music tech still just works.

 

 

Music has often been at the cultural forefront. Giving expression to social and technical advances alike. Music artists might suffer under streaming valuations today but the internet has also freed them from the need for a traditional record label for reach. And in doing so, plenty of them have demonstrated better marketing knowledge than most businesses – find your niche and love them back. Enough to make real community, listening to each other.

Relationships are about truth, just like storytelling – which music is. Bedroom sessions too now make the musical world go round and micro businesses thrive. Blockchain relationships are already re-evaluating the way artists define their work, with more of them turning pieces into NFTs as objects of value more like exhibits in a gallery. As well as amazing festival experiences and soundtracks to our formative years.

All this may be fundamentally tech enabled, and it might make good business. But it’s driven by more richly connected human rhythms than a less emotionally nutritious lust for shiny.

And there’s one other decidedly Not Typical Tech expression of the music tech scene I find interesting. The right to repair, and beyond that – passion for old kit as living icons.

It’s interesting as I reflect that the synth scene, of which I am instinctively a part, absolutely adores “vintage” gear. And not as some fashion fad, but as a timeless love of particular instrumentation. The only weird fashion blip towards synths in the past nearly sixty years of their existence was the last few years of the 1980s when the technology of making noises took a conspicuous digital shift and had musos selling analogue beasts with huge sounds and playful physical interfaces for peanuts in exchange for fiddly little black rack-mounts with a tiny LCDs and a line of thin black buttons. It’s when I could afford to buy my first ever synthesiser – the blessed Moog Liberation. Such junkstore prices didn’t last long.

Today, though all music production can be done on the drive of a laptop, synth nerds half my age love connecting keyboards with big knobs to A-frames of beat boxes and physical sequencers so they can play easily and expressively. And they’ll retrofit old machines with MIDI to be able to use the originals as well as the beautiful new machines made in their image.

As deliberately artificial as electronic music delights in sounding, there is something fundamentally human to be learned by other tech developers from this.

Of course, as a last point I’d add one thing. If you’re paying attention here, you’ll realise. I’m talking about all this in the context of centuries of western music making. A technological codification of tone developed over a thousand years that robot thinking today can easily appreciate – 12 notes in a scale, fixed tuning, recognised time signatures. What about all the musical traditions OUTSIDE this, going back thousands of years before Pope Gregory’s music school, Guido D’Arezzo’s notation, or the orchestrations of the European Enlightenment?

NOW you might be asking a good future technology question. A question asked, incidentally, by some music technology artists 90 years ago.

How can we design technology that reflects the human art instinct for connection, community, testimony, continuity? And go to all the effort of manufacturing tech products that tempt us with the sugar-rush of being real pollinators, not consumers?

 

LISTEN TO THE WB40 PODCAST EP188: IF PRINTERS SPOKE MIDI >

Matt, Chris and I ride through a stone/beats-skipping history of music from Pythagoras and tetrachords to the TR808 and multi-timbral polyphony, before wondering why music tech might be a bit different to the rest of the the gear sector.

 

If storytelling is how we change the world, why aren’t you plotting?

 

I may have been wanging on about needing “new stories of us” for years, but even I haven’t been practicing what I preach and doodling secret scifi in a Black & Red. So it’s interesting how many projects have been launched this year that are literally calling contributors to articulate different worlds. What IS really in your furtive fiction drawer?

Photo Ryan Jacobson on Unsplash

 

Vaporwave is dead, apparently. Learning about artist Ramona Xavier for a #NewBlueMonday post, I discovered that the oeuvre she was initially seen as part of is already over. A retro synth sort of sonic collage of story fragments, Vaporwave seemed to be playing with failed visions of the future. Maybe it turned into Conceptronica – which you should also look up and drop into your social stream nonchalantly – but I’ve long said that every music album should be some sort of concept.

If you’re going to bother writing a bunch of musical ideas together, why not create a unifying theme for them and trade up your offer to a bigger experience? After all, that’s what artists are offering us – an experience, to take us out of normal life and change the way we feel.

Call it pain management, or maybe hope management, or just helpful distraction or simply good old fashioned sensuality but art is, apart from anything else, about human wellness. We psychologically depend on the emotional re-tunes it offers us. And the way it grabs our attention is usually some sort of story hook.

“Story is a gateway” said Diana Williams, Producer and Co-Founder of Kinetic Energy Entertainment on a UK House livestream this week. She described it as an invitation to access ideas and entertainment.

She was talking on a panel of makers connected to a new production by the much respected immersive theatre group Punchdrunk, Dream. A rich collaboration of skilled storytellers, writers, performers, artists, pushing technical and personal boundaries for this latest impressive online experience.

Which is all as inspiring and spectacle making as it is a bit distancing for less wizardy mortals.

Yet the real power of storytelling isn’t in grand technical scope, which theatre companies like Punchdrunk know well. It’s about enabling participants to inhabit a different way of seeing and feeling something.

Pretty essentially ruddy handy for dumb ol’ you and me in a time of slightly terrifying planet crises, huh.

So what alternative futures are you trying to picture?

 
 

Getting over the awks of a drama workshop.

Business may be starting to cotton on to this question. After a decade of everyone talking about storytelling, is the way to develop a more sustainable human planet to actually try writing some new stories of what the world could look like instead?

Just three of the invitations I’ve come across this week I’ve included below. They illustrate an interesting trend in trying to move into ACTUAL stories of us.

Collectively workshopping creative is always, I think, a bit awks to begin with. A bit clunky to loosen into. But this is the business of drama teachers and storytellers, to free us up from some inhibitions of self expression that are very culturally ingrained – that art isn’t for us.

While I do love a worthy manifesto, and feel like I’ve written a few, I can’t help feeling that frameworks and principles aren’t really engines of real change. Writing one can feel splendidly like you’ve done something, worked something out, and it can even fuel a good preach or book tour. But unless we move our bodies into testing those principles, that manifesto will stay academic on a shelf. Like most town vision documents.

If we’re going to make futures that inspires us to take some agency, we’re going to have to get stuck in. Feel our way in to them. Write our way in. Start staking out the shape of the worlds we we’d rather inhabit. Try them on. Dress up in them. Walk about in them and see where they chafe.

So what is your vision of the future? Who’s in it? How did they arrive there? How do they navigate it? What sustains them? Why aren’t you already writing it?

What are you still doing reading this?

——
 

Stories From 2050

What is a protopian future? Or Women World? What if AI made lying impossible, even in real time? What if we discovered a planet that had a radically different emphasis in environment – how would we communicate what we’d experience there compared with home as we know it?

It’s an exercise in participatory creativity from the stuffy old European Commission. But the Foresight On Demand Consortium – which is definitely my next Conceptronica project – is really trying to build a scrapbook of dreams and what-ifs. Stories, visions, messages to future selves – emotional projections, to help envision the worlds we really want to see built.

I sat in on a launch session and found myself immediately scoping alien worlds with strangers from around my home planet and trying to see life from a a fundamentally different perspective.

Stories for life.

An initiative born out of collaboration from the Green Economy Coalition, Wellbeing Economy Alliance, The SpaceShip Earth and Friday Future Love, Stories For Life aims: “To bring forth new and ancient stories into our culture, which weave a narrative of interconnection and help us design a new type of economy.”

It quotes Rebecca Solnitt: “We think we tell stories, but stories often tell us, tell us to love or hate, to see or be seen. Often, too often, stories saddle us, ride us, whip us onward, tell us what to do, and we do it without questioning.”

It’s a collection of ideas weaved together exploring the need to re-frame transformation in firmly storytelling terms, that sees the root of all our converging crises as a destructive economic narrative of disconnection and consumption. I attended a workshop for this the autumn before lockdown and it was a rich mix perspective on re-thinking the components of the story we all think we’re in.

It’s a call to get stuck in and write, with some frameworks for thinking to dip your pen into.

This must be the place

This project powered by Nesta entreats “Shared visions of Scotland’s future.” It’s presented in a little interactive site of poetry and concepts of different aspects of what the country could look like, feel like, function like in a healthier future of a more healthy kind of community economics. It also appears to include a hover wheel chair which is also the sort of thing I’m looking for in visions of tomorrow.

Artists may push the boundaries, but it’s rarely a big leap into the void – and that’s how anyone can make change.

 

Why think like an artist during times of crisis? One fundamental good habit you could copy is to embody your practice – one daily, testing nudge at a time.

 

Lastnight’s Global Goals Music Roadshow had, as ever, many nuggets of wisdom from our guests, all of who have some interest in or idea they’re testing to encourage more sustainable futures. And one perspective I’d not quite considered before came from the wonderful thinker Zach Carlsen, who’s Insta channel Strength Is Life has thousands of followers.

He shared something of his personal story, of feeling powerless, lost, rock bottom at one point in his life, but then having the revelation of not waiting to act. In fact, doing something right where you are to make some tiny impact of change. It ultimately added up for him enough to change his own life, learning to manage addiction and turn his example into help for others. Finding a whole new level of personal strength in both purpose and practice.

The principle that chimes with artists’ work here, I think, is that this is what practice means. Doing more than thinking things out but trying them out – testing as you go. Embodying the work. Putting it out there. Seeing what works and how it feels as you try to get it to work. Not hiding from yourself or the public testimony of it, long before it’s more “respectably” ready.

In every sense, showing up.

The method he laid out, though, chimed something new for me. Something super-practical, super-do-able.

“Don’t think that sustainable growth happens when we’re a mile outside of our comfort zone” Zach said, “but instead, when we find the edge of our comfort zone and we push against that continuously, day after day, it expands our comfort zone until at some point what was once a mile outside of our comfort zone is now the edge.

From there, he said: “We can build the architecture and the muscle to sustain it – instead of taking a leap! ..And being way out of our depth.”

My co-host AY Young has been running a sustainably-powered music tour, The Battery Tour – embodying change as an artist. So much, it brought him to the attention of the United Nations and he is now the USA’s only Young Leader to the UN. He responded to Zach by simply saying: “You’re literally putting into words how I’ve operated to even get here.”

If there’s one thing AY does, it’s embody his practice. And it’s infectious, wherever he goes. Things seem more possible when he’s around. And he makes things happen. Something Zach acknowledged to him, speaking as a life coach, as: “not always standard practice…”.

There’s a strange duality between strength and vulnerability in this. Between mapping your limits and seeing where you can push them. Nudge them. But it works. It changes your world, and so the worlds around you. And it weirdly dissipates fears in the doing.

Art thinking might be playful in its practice, but it’s a lot less about making big statements than leaving an ongoing body of work, working stuff out through your life. One curious, daily push at your boundaries at a time.

It’s how people see the boundaries getting moved – in you.

Discover Zach Carlsen’s Strength Is Life >

Meet UN Young Leader AY Young >

Crypto art awks: Is real sustainability a creative life of openly correcting your cock-ups?

 

Artistic gestures help us feel nice, but transforming the world will take inventive agility as a way of life, whoever we are. That and getting over your eco shames fast to share your workings out.

 

Images: Motif 999, Pointcloud (Venice), Pointcloud (Trang): recent CryptoArt releases by Joanie Lemercier.

It is, this week, 31 years since Tim Berners Lee proposed a little idea. One with a few creative possibilities. In a memo entitled: Information Management: A Proposal, he pictured The Grid – a data highway of light cycles and…

Wait. That was Tron.

>rummages<

..he pictured The Mesh – an information system linking individual creators and thinkers like never before.

As David Mattin puts it in New World, Same Humans #55: “This was internet of individual creators, blogs, and email: a space outside existing structures of power, in which we would be free to forge new ways of seeing, and new modes of life.”

The dream of the Open Web.

Yeah. That’s not quite how it worked out, is it.

As Mattin goes on: “Today, the topography of the web is nothing as Berners-Lee imagined. Instead of a boundless array of individual creators, a handful of advertising-funded megaplatforms dominate our experience of the internet. The megaplatforms don’t prioritise noble ideas about the free exchange of information. Rather, they build walled gardens intended to capture, retain, and monetise as much attention as possible.”

Many of the tech explorers of the early web sounded like they were thinking more like artists than engineers when they were starting out. Utopian, inclusive, playful. Obviously mostly white and male. Although the first PC virus by Pakistani brothers Amjad Farooq Alvi and Basit Farooq Alvi in 1986 did cause a global stir when it was discovered, and while it was purely a business venture to try to disrupt illegal copying of their software on floppies, it still has the ring of art stunt about it in the retelling today.

But in the badlands of the more 1980s Neuromancer-type view of the future, the one we’re all living in, thinking like an artist can still get you outside the box, looking for ways to punk systemic destruction.

Right up until you’re immediately back in the box making the problem worse. As artist Joanie Lemercier excruciatingly discovered.

From progressive creativity back to hidden costs.

 

The easy story to tell generally in sustainability is of faceless, evil robot entities eating all the good in the world. The harder story to tell is how vulnerable to unforeseen consequences are even our best intentions as individuals, everywhere within that system. Including disruptive artists.

Because no sooner had Crypto Art become a thing, it had become an almost instantly terrible thing.

As Joanie Lemercier explains with exacting dismay, her hopes to be part of a whole new way of navigating the art world – a much more sustainable and egalitarian one – ran aground fast.

“The CryptoArt market is a new way for artists to distribute digital works to collectors: often digital images and video files. The blockchain technology provides secure ownership, traceability, artist commission on second market sales and a thriving market place, with platforms emerging quickly: Nifty Gateway, SuperRare, MakersPlace.” she says.

“It’s a vibrant and welcoming community, a place to discuss the works with collectors, and it brings a lot of benefits that the Art market fails to provide.”

Lovely. I’m in. So are you, obviously. But.

“With no travel involved, and a mostly digital distribution, this new model looks like it has the potential to become a sustainable practice for artists. That’s until you understand the magnitude of the environmental impacts of the current blockchain: It is a DISASTER.”

She decided to cancel her latest expo drop because of the sheer amount of energy that crypto uses.

You may well have heard of crypto mining – a process of hunting for new cryptocurrency tokens like Bitcoins through blocks of transaction ledgers that prove their authenticity. Using the blessed internet of truth that is the Blockchain. Built on a process that involves a lot more computer work checking all those blocks in the first place, cryptomining is a task so gamified and so complex, Bitcoin mining in particular: ‘“can now only be done with large scale processing ‘farms’ – multiple specialised GPUs working in tandem on a 24-hour basis” as IT Pro puts it.

The crypto art market hunts not for normal currencies but for Non Fungible Tokens. Which isn’t something you can find at the chemist but rather is unique or limited-run items – works in a gallery, if you like. But NFTs too have people using the same blockchain-hunting principles as any other mining. Built on an algorithm called Proof Of Work.

“Ingeniously idiotic, by design, the PoW algorithm is very compute intensive” says Memo Atken in an excellent deep dive into the whole issue. “The original cryptocurrency Bitcoin , is estimated to have annual energy consumption in the range 80–120 TWh which is about ~0.45% of the world’s entire electricity production”

O…kay.

Which left Joanie Lemercier with a stark realisation, after having moved so much of her practice into crypto art to try to save the planet.

“It turns out my release of six CryptoArt works consumed in ten seconds more electricity than the entire studio over the past two years.”

That, ah… yeah.

From glitzy exhibition back to honest sketchbook.

 

The problem is, as Joanie explains in her testimony to being part of this, the energy we use is still mostly created by fossil fuels. And this is badder than bad, because dumb ol’ you and I don’t think about that process.

“The energy production infrastructure is out of our sight, and we often have the feeling that electricity is abundant, limitless and we disregard its impact. This concept is best described by Rob Nixon as “Slow Violence“” she says.

As Robert Linthicum’s excellent animation put out through Fully Charged explains clearly, still powering everything fossil is fantastically wasteful, dirty, inefficient and destructive. But we’re all part of this in the real world, outside our better intentions.

Online, the blockchain may well be one practical way back to the more open web. But the techbro fanperson outlook that fawns over it may be much more uncomfortably akin than many creative thinkers would like to the perspective that engineered the whole modern world in crisis today – in packets of isolated concerns. Because no virtual endeavour exists without connection to soil, minerals, markets, cultures and energy. Duh.

Joanie thinks there are both automated and conscious ways for crypto art to reduce the problem – much better transparency and best human practice from its platforms, NFT scaling software introduced to take all the bits of transactions you don’t need ledgering out of the blockchain, and more deliberate choices to do the same at human speed.

She has, in short, refused to settle. For online success or for green shame. With such conviction, she sacrificed a heap of work put into an expo launch – an undoubtedly gutting decision. Instead, she has continued exploring – with passion, conviction and discomfort. Thinking rather like an artist. Boldly turning her cock-ups into new material, and a different story.

As with everything tech, the issue isn’t tech. The issue isn’t currently-esoteric concepts like crypto art. It’s us. Still thinking disconnectedly in separate moments, living in our own little worlds a little too much of our time.

Perhaps the more sustainable human value chain is mined much more richly by seeing everything as an ongoing creative exploration, not a series of sales or acquisitions.

After all, every artist knows – those glitzy expos or valuable NFTs certainly are significant nodes of achievement, reputation and revenue, as well as nice feeling bits of theatre. But they’re really just emergences from a never-ending sketchbook of working out your thinking, your feelings, your life – and trying to make honest sense of the world you find yourself in.

What other way is there to transform the world for the better?

 

Read Joanie Lemercier’s excellent testimony: The problem with crypto art >

Read Memo Atken’s thorough explaination of crypto and energy: The unreasonable ecological cost of crypto art >

And don’t be ashamed to do your basics homework:

Watch: The dirty truth about combustion engine vehicles on Fully Charged >

——