[-empyre-] Tactical Obfuscation: thinking bitcoin culturally

Timothy Conway Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Mon Feb 8 09:01:26 AEDT 2021

As we close out the first week of this discussion, I am prompted by Domenico to think about bitcoin, culture, and obfuscation.

I don't have that much to say, not being much involved in discussions around bitcoin but Dominico jogs my memory of incredible artistic interventions made about blockchain and bitcoin at the 2019 Asian Art Biennial, curated by Hsu Chia-Wei and Ho Tzu Nyen at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in Taichung. Making connections between rare earth mining and extensive power factories for blackchain mining, numerous artists in the exhibition drew historical connections between the metaphors of colonial mining and the contemporary analogies brought to bear by digital culture and blockchain economies across rural Asia and Southeast Asia.  Key to many multimedia installations was how the dazzle and seduction of contemporary mining obfuscates the multilayered cultures again being laid to siege.  While we began the week with thinking about 
Ben's fascinating concept of "tactical obfuscation," I'm now recalling how so many of these artists called forth the memories and specters of traditional ethnic cultures and performances to engage in a tactical obfuscation of the seductions of anything approximating the political euphorias around blockchain as described by Domenico.  Just thought it might be provocative to end this week by thinking about this paradox.



Timothy Murray
Director, Cornell Council for the Arts and Curator, Cornell Biennial
Curator, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art 
http://goldsen.library.cornell.edu <http://goldsen.library.cornell.edu/>
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
B-1 West Sibley Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York 14853

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