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152-Year Old Art Museum Adds Blockchain-Ascribed Digital Art to Its Collection

BY Trent McConaghy | 07-May-2015
MAK is the first museum in the world to buy through an online gallery, a digital artwork, with digital currency (Bitcoin), which is digitally authenticated (blockchain via ascribe.io)
MAK Vienna

CC BY-SA 3.0
File:MAK Vienna 4.JPG
Uploaded by Gryffindor
Created: July 31, 2010

Founded as the “Imperial Royal Austrian Museum of Art and Industry” 152 years ago, MAK Vienna (Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art) is known for its strong, daring and innovative Contemporary Art department.

MAK is now the first museum in the world to buy through an online gallery, a digital artwork, with digital currency (Bitcoin), which is digitally authenticated on the decentralised ledger that powers Bitcoin. Here's the museum's press release: http://www.mak.at/jart/prj3/mak/data/uploads/downloads/presse/2015/Harm_van_Dorpel_e.pdf

Event Listeners, is a screensaver created by Berlin based Dutch artist Harm van den Dorpel. It was first presented at MAK NITE Lab Digital Superposition – The File as an Object that took place at MAK FORUM on March 31, 2015 where experts in the fields of contemporary art, crypto currency, artificial intelligence and art law discussed the subject on the panel. (http://blog.ascribe.io/the-file-as-an-object-at-mak-vienna/)

Van den Dorpel’s geometric doodle-like structural drawings that compose intricate shapes by endlessly twirling around the screen is a hypnotizing experience. The artist uses his deep knowledge of AI to program and design the screensaver that algorithmically generates the drawings and the poetry. Van den Dorpel questions the whole notion of screensavers that do not need to exist anymore, as we do not need to protect our screens from “burning in” the unchanged image. Therefore by being “useless” places them in the same space as art.

MAK Vienna may be the only museum in the world that has a bitcoin wallet. This is the only way it could purchase Event Listeners through the online gallery Cointemporary (www.cointemporary.com).

Founded by two Vienna based artists Valentin Ruhry and Andy Boot, Cointemporary is an online gallery / project space that is conceptually very distinctive. It displays one artwork every 10 days, during which people can purchase the work using bitcoin only. Cointemporary has partnered with ascribe to authenticate the digital artworks and limited editions that are shown and sold through the gallery.

This collaboration stems from the same MAK NITE Lab event as the one Event Listeners was created for. Buyers can collect the work knowing they have a cryptographic Certificate of Authenticity and secured ownership. According to MAK, this is the new form of collecting in the digital age.

Event Listeners will be then exhibited in the upcoming show 24/7 – The Human Condition as part of the first VIENNA BIENNALE 2015: FOR CHANGE (11 June-4 October 2015).