THE POSSIBILITY OF THE IMPOSSIBLE. NFTS, BLOCKCHAINS & IDIOCRACY
Why does it make sense to be stupid? Because life is about happiness, about responsibility, and about epic suffering. And what are the chances to create, to find things, to develop methods, or to learn and communicate without excitement and the curiosity of an idiot. Being stupid combined with an infinite capacity for enthusiasm. Understanding that without ignorance, we would all die, these suppression routines and the act and process of forgetting emerge as the greatest luxuries and necessities of our existence. Imagine remembering everything! But how can you maintain being ignorant and act stupid while being intelligent. We are ignorant, and if we think we are intelligent, we do so because we are stupid. Geniuses of ignorance have large capacities for processing real-time data. Nobody is stupid. It is not possible to be stupid.1
Imagine your visual sense, we constantly ignore almost everything we see, our vision is designed to focus on a tiny area alone. If we needed to process the whole frame in high-resolution our system would overload and shut down. But we do have the capacity to add memory, experience, and context to our vision.
We are beautiful, wonderful, loving, kind, intelligent, caring, respectful, soft, creative, while being brutal, aggressive, greedy, evil, nasty, and fucking stupid and idiotic. This condition can be seen as a quantum state, as if we existed in parallel universes, not necessarily at the same time but on competing instances. So applying the term idiotic is justified because of our collective stupidity resulting in binary actions: operating with the polarity of stupid and intelligent, which in itself can not be false or true, but possible more. Probability as a principle could apply here, feelings of vagueness and models of relativity as well. Even to understand the basics of Cybernetics or Thermodynamics requires education and discipline. Why? Maybe because this leads to the concept of collective, temporary & ad hoc synthetic organisms. We learn early on that non-human animals or dehumanized human animals are supposedly less intelligent because of the claim of primacy of the Homo Sapiens. We admire and worship perpetrators and are disgusted by victims, we feel superior out of fear, out of embarrassment. I refuse to go along with that, but I can't resist it either. As soon as I am opposed to something concrete, I acknowledge it and crash into dialectic or binary opposition, hence defining and reducing my position to the relation of the opposing position. This is a dilemma. I cut myself off from the world and become lonely and stupid.
So fuck this and let’s crab-walk over to NFTs, Blockchain, Crypto, and Network Aesthetics.2 How can it be, that a completely simple, seemingly idiotic technology - in our case we use Bitcoin and the slightly further evolved Etherium Blockchain - burn electricity to maintain a slow, expensive and difficult to handle decentralized encrypted ledger. There are better Blockchains available, but it is still unclear how scalability, interoperability and security can be standardized. The Blockchain technology is just one more layer on top of more basic technologies of communication. It is so idiotic and simple, that you could easily call it brilliant. But we do not inhabit binary worlds. Blockchains use simple concepts with the capacity to transform into very complex forms if released within current techno-eco-systems (TCP/IP based Internet). Beyond this architecture, we can run any imaginable kind of contract and transaction. Simple, right? But here it dawns on us, how complex and interesting the whole thing is, in its idiotic simplicity. These life-forms have the capacity to form intelligence and grow into something revolutionary. NFTs, DAOs, Cryptocurrencies running on and through mentioned TCP/IP networks using contemporary machine learning (AI) and every other existing technology, adding various new forms of existences and beings, will create strong dynamics that fluctuate on a spectrum between extremely dangerous to extraordinarily beautiful and helpful. My colleague Professor Fatima Kastner writes extensively about such rule-based systems, algorithms, and how they constitute highly developed and complex legal-social systems (i.e. transitional justice, law and robots, etc).
The most intelligent contract doesn't function if the people involved do not cooperate. Cryptobro ideology states, that everything is solvable through technology. These supremacist male technologists truly believe in their own supreme intelligence. Their lazy disconnected thinking results in stupidity and arrogance. We will have to wait and see, how these human factors combine with radical concepts in our automated networked environments. We know by now, that even the most radical autonomous technical systems are overwhelmingly human and organic by default and are strongly biased. Apparently we also believe that humans produce more errors (mutations) than machines, which is a fine assumption, since errors are what constitutes the basis for a collective thing called evolution. Nature is just a model of the world.
The emerging form of Binary Primitivism and Tribalism is
dangerously exciting and fluctuates ultra-rapidly. At this very moment a
wide spectrum of ideologies and systems meet and collide. Sometimes it
seems, as if the whole world were structured binary. But we know that
binary form barely exists and does not run consistently through all
levels of reality. It's just a practical idea that we use in a tiny
fraction of the existing segments in the sediment of the universe. We
try to make the impossible possible by overcoming seemingly static rules
and ideologies. We have inherited and learned way too much, hence we
criticize and overthink everything.
Art represents one of the few possibilities of intelligence to actively ignore and create possible impossibilities without the determination of media. NFTs are just ideas and they are to be used, experimented with and developed further. There is no argument against the use of NFTs. These seemingly complex but actually open, simple and flexible contracts allow practically anything by almost anybody. There will be unpredictable and uncontrollable ruptures and changes, similar to natural disasters, epidemics/pandemics and wars.
Movies are exactly like life, just a little bit different, but not really. We are kind of embedded but not fully, but still movies (and life) are happening in front of our eyes, we are not fully involved sometimes but can be totally immersed at other times. We agency over the interpretation, context, and perception of movies as well as over our lives. Life is undeniably beautiful and cruel, and boring and sad, but it's just life, it is just like a movie, it is just a movie, and that can not be enough!
Some are born idiots,
others learn to become them,
others pretend to be idiots
and try to convince us.
You can think whatever you want.
Arithmetic can't save you today,
the whole world has
a percentage of idiocy
in their genetics.
To separate us with the arrogance
that in this world we are the center,
we'd better unite with the idiot
that we all carry inside.
Christopher Columbus discovered America
by mere chance,
that's why, to be an idiot
Calle 13, Los Idiotas
The film ‘Idiocracy’ by Mike Judge is entertaining, it is
life reflected on our retina and sent into our brain for Radical
Customization. But the movie also takes a stand. It comes across as
stupid, sexist, politically incorrect, binary, and US American in
perspective & culture. There are parallels to what happens with
coders, creators, investors of the contemporary Blockchain world. Both
phenomena come across as incredibly stupid, primitive, brutal, sexist,
dangerous, libertarian, and supremacist. But we are arrogant &
educated people inhabiting the cosmos of established Art & Culture.
We think, we know better and forget that sometimes there is a time and
place to stand up and position ourselves, to expose ourselves as stupid
and enthusiastic, to be affirmative and willing. But we are scared and
can only accept provocation and confrontation within a defined &
familiar frame-work. Our turf is the only turf we are willing to exist.
The crypto crowd is experimenting with NFTs, Metaverses, and DeFi. Meanwhile the most influential and powerful companies the world has ever seen (Meta, Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Tencent, TSMC) are defining our everyday life. But Cryptopunks and Nouns.wtf and more threatening entities are already (de)constructing the next generation of decentralized entities (Blockchains). This is addictive and empowering and potentially much more powerful than all above listed companies together. And Fantasy/Sci-Fi films such as 'Eternals' and other Marvel Universe products mould ideologies, cultures and aesthetics. So my rethorical question: why the fuck would you not embedd yourself and experiment within these realms.
The film ‘Idiocracy’ renounces itself from being propaganda. The narrative takes a position, it hurts us, plays with us, and we have a tendency to dislike that. Mike Judge has also created ‘Beavis & Butt-Head‘ and a TV show called ‘Silicon Valley’, a comedy about a start-up in Silicon Valley. It is a historical documentary, a psychogram of different prototypes of humans, their ideologies, and the destructive influence of venture capital. It is a brilliant piece of subversive art using the still broadly effective medium of Television. The show reminded me of ‘Microserfs’, the 1995 novel by ‘Generation X’ author Douglas Coupland, describing the feeling of loneliness, purposelessness, stress & exhaustion of a group of new proletarian coders in Silicon Valley during the early 1990s. A brilliant book describing how our worlds have transformed into Huxleyian dystopias.
To finish up I need to make a very strong case for artistic practices that predetermine and limit themselves within a given medium. Insecurity, experimentation, free and critical thinking, and intuitive embracing of absurd models and directions create (particle) collisions. The medium is the means to an end and not the end in and of itself. This is of course difficult, because media are defined as genres and are economically structuring careers (rewards and attention), but the average genre artist easily can become an above average artist by simply shifting media. This is exactly what is happening within the NTF universe. Transposing Blockchain models and NFT methods into filmmaking, performance, artist run spaces or artistic research projects and vice versa.
If intuition, imagination or risk-taking are not prerequisites, everything just becomes life, sometimes exciting but usually boring routine, sometimes tragic and sometimes beautiful. I agree, life should be enough. But then, I ask myself why? Why study art, why make art, why call yourself an artist? It does not make sense to me. So listen! Because to listen is to know where things are! But you have to be able to make decisions based on incomplete information.
Cocaine turns you into a complete overconfident idiot. And taking risks tends to be positioned on the opposing sides of the spectrum: the privilege of the privileged or the only chance of the very poor & lost. The center of the bell curve takes calculated risks. Everybody likes risks, but rather designed risks, simulated risks, controlled risks.
Humans sometimes act like machines, following rules, recipes, default configurations, expirations, and algorithms. Depending on the quality and intelligence of these principles the action and its output can be ‘judged’. This might be stupid behaviour from the perspective of the individual, but intelligent, productive and important from the perspective of the collective. Similar logic applies to machines or other entities. The ‘actor' doesn't need to be intelligent if the algorithms are intelligent, but an intelligent actor who follows dumb rules becomes an idiot. For example in film making, if you follow the cultural techniques developed over the last 150 years, discipline but not intelligence is the main requirement to create a culturally valuable or commercially successful product.
Collectivism seems to be the basic condition of human beings, but we have also included other species and machines and technologies into our networks. Today super fast interactions of rules, technologies and organic life form new ecosystems and create uncontrollable chaotic conditions from which new rules, conditions, cultures, languages, identities, knowledge and memories emerge. New things appear everyday.
- The possibility of the impossible.
The impossibility of the possible.
This is our Unicorn.
- 1 I recently watched ‘Eternals’ (Marvel Universe) with my daughter Lola.
- 2 ‘Wallet Art. Der perfekte Loop’ von Anika Meier
- ___ Picture Credits/ Captions ___
- Portrait UBERMORGEN: Hans and Liz live in peace, Contribution to UBERMORGEN’s monograph by Olia Lialina / Dragan Espenschied
- Headline Image: NFT Triptych (2021)UNINVITED Stills: Fight/Flight 2, Creator: UBERMORGENxNYETHOMPSON