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Making Money Research Workshop: Symposium, “Matters of Currency”

April 27, 2018 - April 28, 2018

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Matters of Currency
Buffalo, New York
27–28 April 2018

Click here to register.

We are excited to announce a 2-day symposium MATTERS OF CURRENCY we are organizing in conjunction with the Institute of Network Cultures MoneyLab project in Amsterdam ( around money and its relationship to power, resistance and alternative strategies. The symposium will touch on ideas we’ve addressed in our meetings over the academic year along with new theories and practices.

It is no longer clear how the axiom “money is power” still holds—if it ever did—in an era of cryptocurrencies, local currencies, free trade zones as financial instruments, “cheap nature” and resource extraction, offshore tax havens, and their leaks in things like the paradise papers. The terms “making” and “money” both mutate with their globally distributed technological, financial and legal frameworks now independent of national regulations.

Common to and between all these mutations, a new relationship to the physicality of money appears: what is the matter and materiality of money? What is the current physicality of value? Currency and matter both resonate with multiple significations today, and invoke the need to examine the “making of money” from multiple disciplinary perspectives. This symposium brings together a range of voices contributing to possible answers for these questions, from fields including Philosophy, Art, Architecture, Computer Science, Community Activism and more. Participants will variously examine different forms of money—objects, life and spaces—for their physicalities, or matters.

Through workshops, talks and panel discussions, “Matters of Currency” will shed new light on money- power relations as mirrored in changing relations to technological and material transformations in the world today.

The event is the first North American instance of the international MoneyLab event series, in conjunction with the Humanities Institute Research Workshop “Making Money: Critical Research into Cultures of Exchange.”
Event funded by the Techne Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies

Chris Lee (Art), Stephanie Rothenberg (Art), Jordan Geiger (Architecture)


(please check back for any updates)

Friday, April 27

Locations: Squeaky Wheel (617 Main Street) and Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center (341 Delaware Avenue)

  • 9:00–9:30 am | Coffee/Check-in at Squeaky Wheel
  • 9:30–9:45 am | Welcome
  • 9:45–11:15 am | Workshop 1: Cassie Thornton | Feminist Crypto: Mining for a bit of life
    • The hype around cryptocurrencies reveals the necessity for us to rethink our priorities around value and trust. The Feminist Economics Department (the FED) wants to use this opportunity to ask: what would it look like to construct an economy where no one profited off of the abuse of others? Any good feminism, at its core, wants to abolish money.
      In this workshop, Cassie Thornton of the FED presents womb coin, the very first mythical cryptocurrency, which works in opposition to distrust and alienation produced by the market. We know that our bodies, relationships and behaviours reproduce the market based reality we live in, and it makes it hard to dream of a way out while continuing to pay rent and work. Using this mythical cryptocurrency as an excuse to see through and beyond money, womb coin invites workshop attendees to participate in one example of an economic reality that leaves money behind to centre health and trust.
      In this workshop, Thornton will present a viral social health practice called the Hologram, that rebuilds social trust, interdependence and centres health in a way that should outlast capitalism. Participants will be invited to learn about and participate in this social form for radical peer support, which was developed collaboratively for itinerants escaping or stuck inside of social/financial crises in Greece and the US. If successful, womb coin will be the first project to steal the blockchain back from the banks to create a social form that completely reinvents the web of our lives as the centre of our economy.
  • 11:15–11:30 am | Break
  • 11:30 am – 12:30 pm | Workshop 2: Little Sis | Map the Power: A Power Research Primer
    • Who rules, and how, and to what end? Power structure research helps us get at some answers. This approach to research aims to uncover the powerful entities and elite networks that shape our economy, politics, and society to serve the interests of corporations and the billionaires and multi-millionaires who run them. In this session, LittleSis staffers will give a short overview of power research and conduct a real-time presentation – with the Buffalo power structure as an example – of how to map the power using the database at and the Oligrapher mapping tool.
  • 12:30–1:30 pm | Lunch
  • 1:30–2:30 pm | Workshop 3: Paul Kolling/Terra0 | Extrapolate Nature – (Nonhuman) Governance for Ecosystems
    • Given the dramatic and damaging influence of humanity’s industrial processes on the ecological balance of the world over the last several centuries, many within the field of academic ecology are attempting to redefine what an autonomous ecology actually is. Especially as at present, even fiercely protected areas of wilderness exist only via constant human interventions keeping them separate from the rest of the world.
      Remote sensing, machine learning, and distributed ledgers are three key technologies which give us the opportunity to think about new forms of governance without direct human influence. In combination with the rise of automated decision making and soft AI, this could lead to a new form of autonomous ecosystems able to act within a predetermined set of rules as agents in their own right.
      Proceeding from the concept of terra0, a self-owned augmented forest, which is able to accumulate capital by selling licences to log its own trees, this workshop discusses concepts of tokenisation of natural resources and new forms of (nonhuman) governance which enable hybrid ecosystems to act as users in the technosphere. Can these technological- augmented ecosystems become tools for creating sustainable, resilient and biodiverse ecologies? Or is the attempt to create these virtual ecologies not already condemned to failure by quantifying ‘nature’ to make it legible and therefore denying diversity, as its most important condition?
  • 2:30–3:00 pm | Change of Venues to Hallwalls + Coffee Break
  • 3:00–4:00 pm | Screening: Love & Labor, Stephanie Andreou & Sarah Keeling, 2017
  • 4:00–5:00 pm | UB Plenary: Jordan Geiger, Chris Lee, Stephanie Rothenberg and UB Faculty
  • 5:00–7:00 pm | Keynote: Jason Moore

Saturday, April 28

Location: Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Avenue

  • 9:00–9:30 am | Coffee/Check-in at Hallwalls
  • 9:30–10:00 am | Welcome/Introduction
  • 10:00 am – 12:00 pm | Panel 1 | Money: Matters of Objects
    • Moderated by Leigh Claire La Berge with Fran Ilich & Gabriela Ceja, Max Haiven, and Brett Scott
    • Considering money and currency from the perspective of material prioritizes a series of formal and political concerns that have been neglected in the mania for cryptocurrencies. The techno-progressive premise that casts cryptocurrencies as a plausible antidote to the problems of conventional forms of money maintains the reactionary notion that money’s value is derived from its scarcity—its status as commodity, like gold—rather than, for instance, its possible status as public utility—a commons.
      Seeing money/currency/exchange as itself a site for creative contestation and critical speculation can help circumvent the neglect of such teleological presumptions and figure a praxis that centers questions of value creation, representation, circulation, and governance. This is not meant as an autonomous field of creativity, but rather as a framework for understanding and reinforcing options generated against capitalism’s relentless production of crisis. How might this praxis make available new languages for the critique of money, and condition the articulation of other possibilities? What are its capacities? What are its principles of form? How would these forms work? How might they fail? Is it like writing? Accounting? Art?
  • 12:00–1:30 pm | Lunch
  • 1:30–3:30 pm | Panel 2 | Money: Matters of Life
    • Moderated by Jason Moore with Jaume Franquesa, Yvette Granata, Paul Kolling/Terra0, and Cassie Thornton
    • Since the rise of modern markets, the struggle to protect existence from capitalist appropriation has determined all matters of life. The dualism between mind and body, culture and nature, is a specter of thought that continues to lead us down a road of biospheric crisis. The abstraction and extraction of life and its mechanization continues to serve capital’s endless need for accumulation. In this cheapening of life, livelihoods are transformed into things; species into machines; relationships into data. Through the biometric mapping of the living, value is determined by an algorithm, resulting in uneven and unequal systems and infrastructures.
      Life should not become a wasteland. Humanity and its non-human kin are not an enterprise. In what ways can new systems of value emerge that embrace equitable co-productions between the terrestrial and the virtual? How do we oppose the ill/logic of capital in the present moment to cultivate more just relationships between a multitude of ecosystems?
  • 3:30–4:00 pm | Coffee Break
  • 4:00–6:00 pm | Panel 3 | Money: Matters of Spaces
    • Moderated by Abigail Cooke with Patricia deVries, Adrian Blackwell, Caitlin Blanchfield, and Caroline Woolard
    • From proof of location to ownership to trade: how has the appearance of space and spatial practices as financial instruments been changing? Free-trade zones, underwater server farms but also collective organization for artists’ studio space all are forms by which space performs simultaneously as multiple forms of currency. This performance occurs thanks to our practices of jurisdiction, design, construction and use across different scales. What different physical properties to space, such as temperature, material or planetary computing infrastructure effect moments of value, and how do they do so differently from the old adage of the three most important things in real estate (location, location, location)? This panel will address several cases of contestation and transformation in which the matters of space grow immutably legal and financial as much as they are physical.

Participants include:

Jason W. Moore – author of several books including Capitalism and the Web of Life (
Cassie Thornton – artist and founder of Feminist Economics Department (
Max Haiven – author of several books including Cultures of Financialization (
Fran Illich and Gabriela Ceja – artists and founders of the digital material sunflower, alternative currency as well as coffee and film co-ops. Review on Aridoamérica project (
Patricia deVries – scholar and researcher at Institute of Network Cultures
Terra0 – blockchain developers for environmental management and tokenizing of natural resources (
Little Sis (Public Accountability Initiative) – Based in Buffalo, creators of free database that power maps influential social networks (
Caroline Woolard – artist and organizer who works collaboratively and collectively as a founding member of Trade School, OurGoods, and BFAMFAPhD. (
Leigh Claire La Berge – professes at the intersection of arts, literature, visual culture and political economy. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at BMCC CUNY. (
Caitlin Blanchfield – PhD in architectural history and comparative literature and society at Columbia University and a contributing editor to the Avery Review.
Adrian Blackwell – artist, designer and urban theorist whose work focuses on the relation between physical space and political economic forces. He is co-editor of the journal Scapegoat: Architecture / Landscape / Political Economy
Brett Scott – journalist,campaigner and the author of “The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money” and writes for publications such as The Guardian, New Scientist, Wired Magazine and CNN. (
Jaume Franquesa – assistant professor of anthropology at the University at Buffalo whose research agenda focuses on the relationship between the commodification of resources and the making of local livelihoods.
Yvette Granata – Phd Candidate at SUNY Buffalo in the Department of Media Study whose research focuses on new media art practice and non-philosophy, techno-social objects, and post cyberfeminist and feminist media art practice.


April 27, 2018
April 28, 2018
Event Category:


Making Money Research Workshop
Techne Institute


Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
341 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY United States
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