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Launch: Serpentine’s Future Art Ecosystems 3: Art x Decentralised Tech

Text by CLOT Magazine

Serpentine Arts Technologies are Launching today their third annual strategic briefing. Future Art Ecosystems 3 (FAE3): Art x Decentralized Tech provides new learnings around decentralised technologies and, in particular, what role Web3 will play in the future of Art. 

FAE’s annual strategic briefing series was born out of a need to inform organisational development in the arts, specifically around ecosystem design for art and advanced technologies. The Serpentine Arts Technologies team comments that while there is a rich dialogue around art’s critical interventions into contemporary technologies such as AI, blockchain and immersive technologies and their mainstream narratives, a dedicated focus on operational and infrastructural conditions for supporting and developing art and advanced technologies has been largely lacking.

The two previous issues explored the advent of the metaverse (an always-online ‘second’ world and emerging internet megastructure) and the new infrastructures being built around artistic practices engaging with advanced technologies for the inaugural FAE. 

FAE3 wants to address the possibilities for a more interoperable (i.e. cross-organisationally integrated) vision for 21st-century cultural infrastructure. The team behind Serpentine Arts technologies have been doing a lot of research on the topic in the last few years, in great part through their Blockchain Lab led by Ruth Catlow and Penny Rafferty. 

The report identifies new patterns for organisational and creative innovation within the broader space of decentralised technologies, variably dubbed as ‘web3’, ‘crypto’ and ‘dweb’. Through a series of interviews with specialists across art, web3, crypto, dweb, innovation policy and civic, the briefing articulates various horizons for reconfiguring how practitioners and the cultural sector at large can operationalise production, distribution and financial support systems. FAE3 formulates a series of prospective strategies for existing and new cultural organisations interested in Arts and advanced technologies and the latter’s role in supporting resilient, democratic societies.

Some of the insights and questions addressed in the report focus on what is beyond the NFT hype, with longer-term implications of the Web3 ecosystem for art and advanced technologies practitioners, including new business models and ways of interacting with audiences, building new coordination and operational tools and building bridges across and through institutional contexts in order to renegotiate how cultural production is organised, financed and distributed as a public good; and challenging the public view of web3, which has been biased towards an extremely branded, controlled platform, there’s more to the Metas and more creative-sterile visions alike. 

The briefing features conversations and writings from specialists and innovators, including blockchain specialist Primavera De Filippi, Ruth Catlow and Penny Rafferty, artists Harm van Dorpel and Sarah Friend, Director of NEW INC Salome Asega, Head of Programme at FACT Liverpool Maitreyi Mahesh.

Kay Watson, Serpentine Head of Arts Technologies, comments that as a sector convenor in Art and Technology, Serpentine is committed to developing and sharing know-how that is developed by the public sector for the public sector.

You can download the FAE3 briefing from this link. The launch event will be streamed publicly via Serpentine’s Twitch platform.

(Media courtesy of Serpentine Galleries)

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