Theorem, Proof and Value: Art as artifact, art as process, art as currency and art as value.
Name of Project:
Theorem, Proof and Value: Art as artifact, art as process and art as value.
Proposal for call for art: https://unframed.lacma.org/2018/12/12/2019-art-technology-lab-call-artist-proposals
List three words that describe your proposal:
Fundamental, Surprising, Proof
One-sentence description of the work for which you are seeking support:
Interactive art installation and distributed system converting audience mark making/gesturing into solutions for computationally hard “proof of work” problems that mine new blocks on blockchains and cryptocurrency.
Full description of the proposed project (500 word maximum):
“Theorem, Proof and Value (TPV)” is a multi-modal apparatus and system where artistic production by audience and artist provides “proof of work” solutions necessary to produce new blocks on blockchains and cryptocurrencies. Proof of Work (or proof of stake) problems are the “mining” functions of all distributed ledger systems (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof-of-work_system ). These problems are mathematically hard in that it they are designed such that trial and error is the only reliable way to solve them while checking the solutions is trivial. These problems provide the key part of blockchain allowing a decentralized trust network to operate without any central coordinator.
The artist hypothesizes that these problems can actually be solved faster by humans making art than by computers computing. Every piece of art is a proof of a theorem — the solution to a computational problem — and usually the most efficient. Being able to solve these proof of work problems faster and with less thermodynamic energy than a bank of mining computers allows TPV to mine cryptocurrencies and create value in various blockchain marketplaces. TPV thus becomes a system for art experience, art production, and monetary value creation — TPV empowers art to produce its own agency in every facet.
It is further hypothesized that TPV can become a sustainable vehicle of funding, patronage and creativity for artists and art institutions. It also will make the case for more people to practice art knowing that they can immediately convert artistic production/mark making in into understanding and value in other systems (blockchain and so forth).
TPV main hypothesis about art being a faster, better solve for computational problems is based on research and experiments demonstrating art’s ability to explore large search spaces for novel solutions. Humans have unique abilities through their sensory and symbolic aspects of their embodied brains/bodies to pattern recognize and process huge amounts of multi-dimensional data at a scale no computational system yet invented can duplicate. The more researchers develop advanced machine learning/AI/deep learning systems the more researchers rely on these systems to produce advanced multi-modal (animated visuals, songs etc) human inspectable representations of their models. This indicates that human abilities to produce and interpret art are very general and very likely indicative that all “intelligent” systems will form a process of “art making” to make sense and to help others make sense of complex internal and external worlds. It is further asserted that the hidden mechanical processes of art making are likely to correspond highly to the mechanical processes of cryptographic hashing functions that form the basis of proof of work algorithms.
TPV would be a significant milestone in AI and human-computer evolution.
TPV’s system is comprised of:
- Surfaces, materials and mediums for audiences to make marks/art
- Multi-Sensory signal analyzers for observing and synthesizing marks/art
- Machine Learning / AI software code to convert art synthesize into proof of work block submissions
- APIs and middleware software code to connect to various blockchains and cryptocurrency platforms
- Website/Mobile app for LACMA staff, patrons, internet users to track the value of the art, review produced art works, and track the flow of TPV generated blocks
Please include a bio of the principal artist or collective who will be responsible for this project (this may be in the form of a CV):
[see www.worksonbecoming.com ]
Please describe the artist or creative merit of the proposed project (250 word maximum):
Art has often pushed technologies along. Art has been a universal and primary activity of human sense making and human community building. Though as the computer age moves along it is more and more assumed that technology and technology alone can fulfill all the promises of society. We have created a world of near ubiquitous computing and yet almost all the hard problems of science and understanding our reality and interacting peacefully and with growing awareness remains nearly unchanged in the last 30 years. We have made almost no progress on moral questions and issues of personhood all the while we’ve crafted and installed potentially alienating and dis-personal computing everywhere.
TPV has the potential to demonstrate the essential nature of art in humanity AND advanced technology. TPV has the potential to show artists, institutions, and technologist how art is and will continue to be the best and, frankly, only way to sense make, ask and answer hard and important questions. Additionally TPV will open up new research areas in artistic expression, art history and the future of high tech systems.
Why do you consider this project to be a meaningful exploration of emerging technology? (250 word maximum):
Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, distributed ledgers, AI, machine learning and model interpretations are racing ahead in commercial, experimental and artistic arenas. However, the technology is racing way out in front of our collective ability to make sense of it and/or make sure it makes sense. Additionally much of what these various aspects of technologies physically do is opaque and not inspectable. There are various claims of democratizing and emancipation from this tech but without some deep and fundamental integration with human sense making these claims can’t possibly be true. Furthermore there are huge unproven assumptions about how safe and secure these systems are based on how hard it is for a classical computer to compute. We have a history of assumed safe technologies becoming unsafe long after they have been widely adopted. TPVs implementation would explore these issues and much more pointing a way forward for further serious technical research.
In what ways does your project inspire dialogue about the issues at hand, including the relationship between technology and culture? (250 word maximum):
TPV directly asks questions about whether high technology/software can ever fulfill its promises of progress and justice and human thriving. TPV offers of a vision and a system based on that vision to help more people produce art, ask questions through art and directly benefit from that art. Additionally LACMA could power funding efforts from an ongoing deployment of TPV and likely use the system in wider ways to turn existing and new collections into new sources of funding.
Even if all its aims are not achieved TPV will still pose significant and compelling questions to the artist and technical communities about what art does, what tech does and how we value each independently and together.
Please describe your proposed plan for public engagement. What opportunities do you foresee to share prototypes, demonstrations, and process with the public? (100 word maximum):
The public will be invited to submit to and create art with the TPV system. All code, data, and art will live within the public domain. Demonstrations and talks of the TPV system will be staged regularly to artist and technical communities to stir interest and criticism. Well-known artists will also be featured to further engage the public in TPVs capability.
What data will your project produce that may be of interest to other artists, technologists, or arts organizations? (250 word maximum):
- Algorithm code for converting analog mark making/art work into Proof of Work solutions
- Meta-data for all processing
- Computational metrics of all system operations
- What marks and art artifacts solve Proof of Work problems best
- All work, code and data would be gifted to LACMA
Please list any other sources of funding for this project, including in-kind support, and, if applicable, any conditions related to that funding or support:
- Studio X — $5,000 in funding + coding support
- AI Company Y — coding and platform support ($6000 value)
- Tech Giant Z — software and platform support ($3000 value)
Others will be brought on as needed.
All funding contingent on LACMA proposal acceptance.
Total amount requested:
$37,000 from LACMA Art+Tech
Detailed project budget (please include direct costs, including materials, software licenses, etc., and any artist fees as well as fees for any other contributors to the
- Software licenses: $5,000
- Artist Fee (for Russell and collaborators): $5000
- Machine Learning Cloud: $10,000
- Software Development Labor: $20,000
- Art making surfaces and supplies: $3,000
- Sensors, Cameras and micro computers: $5,000
- Analytics Display: $3,000