Rhea Myers

Agoric Aesthetics & Philosophy

Agorizing aesthetics and philosophy means producing them using market pricing mechanisms. The model for this is the market-based software of agoric computing. The advantage of such a system is that it incentivises both production and efficiency. By internalizing market forces, the perverse incentives of gamified systems such as academic research points can be avoided.

An agoric system needs a currency, for efficiency’s sake we will use a cryptocurrency. There are several ways of implementing a currency for an agoric system using cryptocurrency systems. We can use coloured coins, nxt or Counterparty assets, or Ethereum contracts similar to the Token System example in the Ethereum White Paper to create coins, tokens, or other quantifiable valences. For simplicity’s sake I will call all of these “tokens”. Different implementations allow different capabilities: fungibility, revocation, transferrability.

An artist group or artistic movement can use a store of tokens allocated by vote or other mechanism to artists or artworks that they deem part of the movement and its output. The Cypherfunks project is an existing example of such a system. Such a system combines the nominative practices of Dadaist, Conceptual and some Pop/Post-Pop art with the social and aesthetic function of materially identifying in and out groups. A single-artist token could be used to create an oeuvre in the style of Duchamp or Kostabi.

Art critics can use tokens to embody critique. A single-value token can be used to embody critical approval, a pair of oppositely valanced tokens to represent approval/opprobrium (and to revise critical opinion should it later change), a family of tokens with different star rankings can be used to implement a star system at the cost of fungibility. The critic sends tokens either to the artist’s address in the cryptocurrency system or to an address representing the hash or proxy hash of the artwork. The artist or artwork’s standing can be found by counting the number and kind of critical tokens associated with it.

Philosophical treatises can be constructed agorically. Axioms and citations, logical and rhetorical moves can be assigned point costs either as classes (premise, objection, rebuttal) or individually (Derrida, Arendt, Meillassoux). Each usage increases the price of the essay. Point costs and budgets can be assigned per hundred words or for a given form (short essay, review, thesis, journal article etc.) or context (particular journals, web sites, or educational institutions). Essays are then written to the budget. Or price essays according to the system and then let publishers (and readers) choose which to consume on that basis. For a more dynamic system prices can be set using a PageRank-style system as a product of the cost of cited works.

Pricing this essay is left as an exercise for the reader…