The Mining Museum (Miami), 2018, steel plate and mesh, wood, computer server rack, Ethereum mining rig (motherboard, three graphics processing units (GPUs), battery, hard drive, Windows OS), smart contract, 60 x 27 x 17 inches (152 cm x 69 x 43 cm)
How agreeable it must be to recall that December in Miami when you first fell in love with contemporary art? And for how many years since have you returned, unfailingly, to attend to this obsession? Such immoderate pleasures can often place demands on one’s time and wallet. This might bring a degree of struggle that can, at times, be leveraged to advance the goals of a collection: to propel connections with challenging recent art that both speaks to and augments the coherence of previous acquisitions.
Over the past several years there has been much ado about art and blockchain. Buzz in the industry press has spilled over into conversations and salons with HUO and the CTOs of London galleries. They say that blockchain, like art, isn’t simply a bubble economy. Both are here to stay. As with most meaningful innovation it will be up to artists, we are told, to invent blockchain tools of uncompromising beauty and critical import.
Consider yourself fortunate to be back in New York encountering an object that can form a meaningful partnership with artists working with blockchain. At the center of this gallery is the Mining Museum (Miami), hereinafter referred to as “MMM”, a faceted steel enclosure that discloses the signature profile of a private museum that might be sited somewhere in the eclectic Art Deco District of Miami Beach, the Design District across the causeway, or Wynwood. The MMM eliminates the burdensome task of museum entrepreneurialism for the democracy of domestically-scaled sculpture. Once installed in your home’s great room or gallery the enchanting pink powder-coated surface becomes a container for a computational core that mines Ethereum, which is the code to enable smart contracts.
Now, let us turn to contracts. We can certainly agree that the asymmetric and extractive market between artists, collectors, and institutions is unsustainable, yet it persists through opacity and a lack of systemic regulation. To ensure transparency and accountability, let us consider this document as the first step toward mediating a set of mutually beneficial terms. Such conditions will connect the producers of artworks more closely to its custodians. We are not creating a market where there was none before – we are simply upgrading the market we have.
As the custodian and/or consignee of the MMM you will be required to provide a 120V electrical current to keep the sculpture powered at all times. Inside the MMM is a steel beam rack that supports computer hardware optimized to mine the Ethereum cryptocurrency. As one node in a decentralized network of computers working to cryptographically verify, or hash, activity on the Ethereum distributed public ledger, the MMM requires that a strong and steady internet connection be provided, either LAN or Wifi. The MMM carries out a proof of work through a computationally intensive process that yields a cryptographic string. Ethereum is tokenized (Ether) as an incentive to participate in the network’s work protocols and is currently transferrable to other currencies on digital exchange platforms. All Ether generated by the MMM will be transferred to the digital wallet of the consignors João Enxuto and Erica Love:
This mining process not only produces Ether but also a thermal surplus that transforms a living space into a heat sink for an accursed share. With cryptocurrency mining, energy that would otherwise dissipate can now be captured as derivative value. As engines of market capitalization, artists rarely profit from what comes after an artwork is sold. Long-term mutuality is our goal.
As an early investor in our venture you will take part in the exciting and unpredictable journey toward the blockchain horizon. Undoubtedly you’ve heard that mining cryptocurrencies comes with undesirable environmental consequences, but with continued technical refinements this impact will surely be overcome. Mining Ether with the MMM is only an intermediate step in a longer process which will see the entire art market eventually move to the blockchain. Once there, we can transition to agents in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), organically enforcing contracts that are specified in terms of networked regulations and networked currencies. Join us is in building the automated system that will finally yield a fair, trusted, and equitable market.