CODE 2023 panel: Reclaiming Digital Agency


Can blockchain technologies like smart contracts and DAO’s (decentralised autonomous organisations) enhance the democracy process? On 2 February, we talk about the opportunities and limitations of these decentralised technologies in the panel Proof-of-Scale at the transmediale festival in Berlin. Speakers include: anthropologist Miriyam Aouragh, researcher Nick Houde, curator and researcher Paulien Dresscher, and political theorist at The New Institute and Humboldt-University of Berlin Rahel Süß. The panel is part of CODE 2023, a programme bringing together artists, non-artists, politicians and concerned citizens around the theme of our digital rights. You can visit the panel on-site with a valid transmediale festival ticket. Not in Berlin? Tune in for the livestream on the transmediale website (for free).

Modelled on rules of computation, experiments with DAO’s, blockchains, and smart contracts all point to new possibilities for solutions to politics. Often seen in tension or in conflict with state or legacy structures, these models of techno-political organising and their structures have reconfigured ideas of sovereignty and imagined communities, leading to the development of new models, practices and processes for political engagement, governance, and consensus. However, despite claims that these technologies are able to enhance the democracy process, records show that governance mediated solely by code creates blind spots that obscure political decision-making and require human intervention and oversight.

In this panel, Miriyam Aouragh, Nick Houde, Paulien Dresscher, and Rahel Süß discuss the affordances of decentralised technologies and strategies for circumventing their failures. Together they question what political structures should be made between legacy institutions and emerging forms of digital autonomy, asking not only how new techniques and mechanisms for collective life may be implemented, but critically, how to engage policymakers, politicians, and different communities in their implementation.

About CODE: Reclaiming Digital Agency
This panel is part of CODE 2023, a collaboration between IMPAKT, Werktank, Privacy Salon/Privacytopia and transmediale. CODE was initiated in 2021 as a response to growing concerns that we are losing agency over the digital tools and platforms we use on a daily basis. We believe in the need for better laws and legislation that will protect us as digital citizens and consumers. By creating creative and artistic interventions, our aim is to influence public policy on a national and international level and to create awareness for issues at hand. We want to inspire and facilitate cross-disciplinary collaborations, which have the potential to catalyse system change. CODE 2023 will be the third edition. In the past two editions we supported almost 50 artists and non-artists to work together and create projects. We also brought together national and European politicians and experts in interviews, panels and presentations, and we presented the participants’ projects at international events including Ars Electronica, Dutch Design Week, Dutch Media Week and the CPDP Conference. The results and all interviews and talks can also be seen at 

CODE 2023 is supported by the City of Utrecht, Creative Industries Fund NL and Cultural Participation Fund.


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