Proof of Work
Blockchain Provocations 2011-2021

Rhea Myers

Published by Urbanomic, 2022
ISBN 9781915103048

NFT, BTC, DAO, ETH, WAGMI, HODL. It would have been hard to avoid these acronyms only a year ago. The hype around cryptocurrencies and blockchain art was almost as annoying as the glee with which crypto sceptics welcomed the sudden onset of the crypto winter.

But for all the popularity of Bored Apes and Ponzi scheme stories, there seems to have been little serious engagement with the philosophical, political, and aesthetic implications of the blockchain. The academy appears to have dismissed the crypto world out of hand, citing its financial unviability and the deeply ‘problematic’ philosophical foundations of its technology.

Rhea Myers is a crypto artist, writer, and hacker who searches for faces in cryptographic hashes, follows a day in the life of a young shibe in the year 2032, and patiently explains why all art should be destructively uploaded to the blockchain. Her engagement in the technical history and debates in blockchain technology is complemented by a broader sense of the crypto movement and the artistic and political sensibilities that accompanied its ascendancy.

Remodelling the tropes of conceptual art and net art to explore what blockchain technology reveals about our concepts of value, culture and currency, Myers’s work has become required viewing for anyone interested in the future of art, consensus, law, and collectivity.

Rhea Myers speaks to Pierre d’Alancaisez about art’s role in mapping and shaping the emergent properties of blockchain technologies, the crypto-libertarian, anarchy-capitalist nexus, and the enduring legacy of the conceptual art movement.

Proof of Work brings together annotated presentations of Myers’s blockchain artworks with essays, reviews, and fictions—a sustained critical encounter between the cultures and histories of the artworld and crypto-utopianism, technically accomplished but always generously demystifying and often mischievous.

Rhea Myers is an artist, writer, and blockchain developer and activist. Now an acknowledged pioneer whose work has graced the auction room at Sotheby’s, Myers focussed on blockchain tech in 2011, becoming one of the first artists to enter into creative, speculative, and conceptual engagement with ‘the new internet’.