How do you make tangible art out of the intangible? That’s the sort of questions that either: A) gives you intro to philosophy flashbacks or B) comes from your nemesis as they challenge you to solve their dastardly crimes. But, artist Andy Bauch not only asked himself that question, he answered it, and put the answer into action. After several years successfully creating large images using Legos, he moved from representational pieces to a series that explores bitcoin and transforms it into visual art.
“I make art that that tries to sort of shine a spotlight on the connection between humans and technology,” Bauch says.
You’ve probably heard of bitcoin, the cryptocurrency created in 2009 by an unknown person under the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. But odds are you don’t actually know much about what it is or how it functions (unless you read Uproxx).
Purchased through online marketplaces or earned by “mining” (which involves solving complex math puzzles), bitcoins are purely digital and maintained and tracked via a decentralized system. This is perfect for users, because it allows them to make purchases anonymously and never requires them to use a traditional bank. And, the recent surges in the value of the currency, as well as some upcoming changes in the platform make this an ideal time for Bauch to provide commentary via art.
Lego bricks have proven the perfect medium for this pursuit — Bauch has been working with the colorful bricks since 2010 (you may remember him from his viral Breaking Bad inspired piece in 2013), and he has proprietary computer software that helps him to design and produce each piece. Now that he has moved into the realm of both technology and art, Legos are ideal because they function as little pixels, creating compositions with a digitized appearance.
The images in Bauch’s BITCOIN series are visual designs that are created using the secret keys of bitcoin wallets, meaning a savvy purchaser could reverse engineer his process, and use the codes to access those funds. This means the intrinsic value of the pieces is fragile, hinging in some ways on the currency. This speaks to the freedom and volatility of digital currency.
In this episode of Uproxx Reports, Bauch gives viewers insight into bitcoin, his art, the potential value of the pieces, and his belief that we are approaching the singularity, the point at which artificial superintelligence swiftly leads to unstoppable technological growth, altering humanity in ways that can’t be predicted.
“I don’t think there’s anything really about art that artificial intelligence can’t eventually do as well as humans can,” Bauch asserts. It’s a claim he hopes to prove, through the ultimate human pursuit: art.