DAOWO Global Initiative

DAOWO © Goethe-Institut | Studio Hyte

The DAOWO Global Initiative forges a transnational network of arts and blockchain cooperation with leading international arts and technology institutions and communities in cities around the world.

Together with Furtherfield and the Serpentine Galleries, the Goethe-Institut initiated a global collaboration examing blockchain technolgies' potential for the arts and civil society by convening transnational networks of of leading international arts and technology institutions and communities. Our ambition is to seed a new decentralised ecology of open source cultural organisations, built by artists embedded in distributed global communities. Designed to activate collaboration across communities, disciplines and sectors, DAOWO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation With Others) events enable participants to interrogate the benefits and pitfalls of blockchain developments for arts, culture and wider society from local perspectives. Events connect visionary artists, cultural workers and blockchain entrepreneurs, together with local initiatives, communities, institutions and businesses to seek new transnational systems and approaches.

Podcast: Talking Culture, Episode 5 Images: © private; Skye Bougsty-Marshall (Laura Lotti)

Talking Culture - Podcast
Podcast-Episode: "Why Artists work with Blockchain Technologies (to Reinvent the Arts)“

In this Talking Culture episode, we exchange about the potential of blockchain and Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) for the arts, culture and civil society.

Now, as the world is facing a new economic crisis, how could the arts and civil society benefit from blockchain technologies? Hear from artists, curators, technologists and researchers who are using blockchain to revolutionise their way of working. This episode features Ruth Catlow, artistic director of Furtherfield, Ben Vickers, CTO at the Serpentine Galleries, and collectives from Berlin to Moscow (Laura Lotti, Calum Bowden, Dzina Zhuk and Nicolay Spesivtsev) and who are part of the DAOWO Global Initiative.

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The DAOWO Global Initiative Network

In February 2020, we invited cultural practitioners and representatives of non-profit arts and technology organisations from around the world to participate in the Artworld DAO – A 52hr** Gathering. Together we discussed, analysed and mapped the obstacles, opportunities, and implications for progressive, decentralised artworld automation.

This intense learning session and retreat in an English countryside estate allowed cultural community activists to host their own events in their localities and organisations and prototype a DAO. Participants dissected the “old artworld” and drew on the emerging blockchain artsspace to prototype DAOs as art and for art, to increase solidarity, strangeness, and freedom to take collective action – to create new arts ecologies. A jury of experts awarded funding to prototype progressive art DAOs and artworld DAOs to four successful teams. The teams will soon present their projects in a series of events (more information to follow).

In addition, a publication will accompany the series: 'Open sourcing the Philosopher's Stone - An Artworld DAO Reader' is the culmination of four years of cross-disciplinary practice focusing on the phenomenon of Artworld DAOs (Decentralised Autonomous Organisations) as apparatus and stimulus for experimentation between artists, engineers, and mystics who are rebuilding global artworld imaginaries in a cooperative vein to shape new cultural value systems. The book contains contributors by leading thinkers and practitioners in the field, and is a collection of essays and artworks, along with interviews, conversations, blueprints, exercises and practices. It is intended as an informed archive and a toolkit for further use. 

Past DAOWO Activations

The DAOWO blockchain laboratory and debate series for reinventing the arts has been running since 2017. Following the 2017-18 DAOWO series, the 2019 DAOWO UK Summits brought together the worlds of art and blockchain, and laid the foundations for a global transnational network.

Focused on establishing greater cooperation between the arts and blockchain industry, leading researchers and key artworld actors convened in a series of events. Discussions focus on potential cultural and social impacts, technical affordances and opportunities for developing new blockchain technologies for fairer, more dynamic and connected cultural ecologies and economies.

Curatorial Team

The DAOWO blockchain laboratory and debate series and the DAOWO UK Summits were developed by Ruth Catlow and Ben Vickers in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut. Penny Rafferty joined the curatorial team to co-develop the Artworld DAO – A 52hr** Gathering and DAOWO Global Initiative together with the Goethe-Institut.

DAOWO GIF © DAOWO | Studio Hyte

Ruth Catlow © Ruth Catlow
Ruth Catlow is an artist, curator and researcher of emancipatory network cultures, practices and poetics that embrace more than human interests. She is artistic director of Furtherfield, a hub for critical explorations in art and technology, a community of radical friends who carry out fieldwork in human and machine imagination, founded with Marc Garrett in London, in 1996. She co-edited Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain(2017). Ruth 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.

Penny Rafferty © Hannah Rumstedt
Penny Rafferty
 a writer and visual theorist based in Berlin, is one of the co-founders of the blockchain-based micro-economy-in-the-arts platforms Ishtar Gate and The Black Swan DAO. Her theoretical essays and creative texts have been commissioned for Cura, Kaleidoscope Magazine, Keen on, Taz.de, NRW Düsseldorf, Flash Art and Elephant Magazine amongst others. She co-developed the think tank series Artworld DAO’s with Ruth Catlow in coordination with The Serpentine and Futherfield and continues to work as both an auditor and researcher in the tech cultural field.



Ben Vickers © Ben Vickers

Ben Vickersis a curator, writer, publisher, technologist and luddite. He is CTO at the Serpentine Galleries in London, co-founder of Ignota Books and an initiator of the open-source monastic order unMonastery.


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