Is this THING on?
net art
fall 2022

A livestream experiment on a custom-built network — through which artists and audiences perform the conversation around web3 development (community, collective-ownership, labor, decentralization, scarcity, the value of digital art, and the desire to stream beyond the control of Big Tech).



Livestreaming is a hundred billion dollar industry that has grown two-fold during the pandemic. Most of this streaming exists within centralized media networks owned by Big Tech and Telecom. These networks control the content of the stream, and create a restrictive box in which the artist has to live, limiting their expression and interaction with the audience. These networks and platforms also control the economics of streaming and every aspect of exchange.

It’s time to imagine and create streams that exist for us, ones modeled on community not capital. Web3 shows potential, but there are critical and technical barriers. With THING, we will be publicly working to create a new decentralized network for streaming and audience interactivity. This process will culminate not only in a new technical system, but also a body of art that evaluates our public experiment. What effects does THING produce in terms of sociality, equity, creativity…?

Over 3 seasons the network will be progressively decentralized, shaped by conversations with artists and audiences on-stream and in public programming. This process will explore aspects of web3: blockchain versus webring, dollars versus crypto, DAOs versus co-ops. Eventually the network could resolve to a web 1.0 inspired p2p webring, a single physical machine, a blockchain livestream platform, or something else entirely.

On THING, each season, artists will stream performances that provoke conversation about notions of stream and labor. These streams will not just be video players on a web page - but break out of the video box and allow audiences to interact with artists in new and engaging ways.

Layered onto the streams is a currency system called energy that is shared across streams and stored in a publicly viewable leger. As artists stream, the network will generate energy (aka energy tokens) and allot it to an artist’s account. Audiences watching and interacting with the artist's stream will earn and spend energy. This intentionally vague currency is a representation of mutual care and labor and further provokes questions of value and media. Over time, the community may decide how this currency matures — we may decide to list it as a token on the blockchain, to print physical assets for tokens, or to abandon it entirely.

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Founders
Bhavik Singh
Christopher Clary
Molly Soda

Sarah Rothberg

Support
Next Web Seed Grant from NEW INC and Meta Open Arts

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Looking for culture and tech partners to help with support, funding, and venues.

Mark

Thankful to be an Eyebeam fellow, NEW INC member, awarded by the New Jersey Council on the Arts, commissioned by Rhizome, supported by Meta Open Arts, exhibited at Les Rencontres d’Arles, sold at Art Book in China, collected by MoMA, reviewed in Art in America, and bested by Hyperallergic.