The Byzantine Generals Problem
4 July–end of the internet
Monday, 4 July 2022 at 1 PM CET
Featuring works by
Anna Ridler, Ben Grosser, Constant Dullaart, DIS, FaceOrFactory, Kyle McDonald, LaTurbo Avedon, Moxie Marlinspike, Nascent, Rhea Myers, Sarah Friend, Sarah Meyohas, Simon Denny, Guile Twardowski, Cosmographia, Sterling Crispin, The Miha Artnak
An alternative to capitalism, or capitalism at its worst? An emancipatory network economy where everyone has a stake, or a dystopian panopticon where only the best man wins? An opportunity for democracy, or a techno-libertarian wet dream? A new creative economy or a pyramid scheme? A planet saver or a planet burner? Rarely has the debate around a technology been so polarized as with blockchains, web3 and NFTs. We are facing a problem of consensus, trapped within a Byzantine Generals Problem.
Some generals are besieging Byzantium. In order to avoid catastrophic failure, they must agree on a concerted strategy, but some of them are unreliable. Used to illustrate how consensus is reached within distributed systems, this allegory can be applied to blockchains and to societies as well. Yet, in a peer-to-peer debate with no central authority, consensus is hard to reach for a reason; and the disagreeing general, the unreliable actor, may be our best resource against the common sense of the crypto-yuppies.
The Byzantine Generals Problem is an online exhibition focused on artworks which, while not avoiding to engage with blockchains and crypto culture, do it in a critically constructive way: questioning dominant narratives, raising problems, and sometimes proposing alternative solutions.
Domenico Quaranta is an art critic, curator and educator interested in the ways art reflects the current technological shift. His texts have appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, books and catalogues. He is the author, among other things, of Beyond New Media Art (2013) and Surfing with Satoshi. Art, Blockchain and NFTs (2022) and the editor of several books, including GameScenes. Art in the Age of Videogames (2006, with M. Bittanti). Since 2005 he has curated several exhibitions, including Collect the WWWorld. The Artist as Archivist in the Internet Age (Brescia 2011; Basel and New York 2012); Cyphoria (Quadriennale 2016, Rome) and Hyperemployment (MGLC, Ljubljana 2019–2020). He lectures in Interactive Systems and is a co-founder of the Link Art Center (2011–2019).
Surfing with Satoshi – Art, Blockchain and NFTs
Written amidst an explosion of technological hype and a speculative frenzy, the book sets the promise of the NFT market in a historical context, investigating the technologies it is based on, the role of certificates and contracts in contemporary art, and the evolution of the media art market over the last thirty years.
The Byzantine Generals Problem
Curator: Domenico Quaranta
Authors: Anna Ridler, Ben Grosser, Constant Dullaart, DIS, Face or Factory, Kyle McDonald, LaTurbo Avedon, Moxie Marlinspike, Nascent, Rhea Myers, Sarah Friend, Sarah Meyohas, Simon Denny, Guile Twardowski, Cosmographia, Sterling Crispin, The Miha Artnak
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2022
Realized in collaboration with and in the framework of:
the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana