Bitcoin busking, printing elastic in 3d and how they relate

2013-06-29 17.26.01I thought I was going to have to write 2 separate posts; one about Bitcoin and one about my elastic 3d printed experiments, but luckily I found a convienient way to tie the two together, over the weekend.  I will begin with Bitcoin.

For the last couple of years, I have watched with great interest, the rise and fall and rise and fall and...(you get the picture) of a new form of currency called Bitcoin.  Legend has it that a mysterious developer/s named Satoshi Nakamoto invented an unbreakable, (by current computing means), un-gameable, global digital currency, untied to any government, nation state or bank, which would herald a new era of financial independence throughout all of humanity and not one ewok had to be harmed to do it.  so, of course, I was intrigued and wanted to know more.  I watched to see what was happening in the space.  and long story short, although there seemed to be a whole lotta hacking going on, no one was “cracking” bitcoin, ie, hackers were exploiting backdoors in the systems built “around” bitcoin and mistakes made by users and online exchanges (where bitcoins are exchanged for cash), but no one had cracked bitcoins encryption.  this was very interesting. 

Bitcoin has been all over the news lately.  with banks completely shitting the bed and whole countries going bankrupt, many people have been investigating the new currency for the reasons noted above.  I personally have had an interest in it because I HATE dumb shit that banks do in regards to MY money, like 30 days to clear a payment…IN THE 21ST CENTURY!!  or creeping, ridiculous fees when doing mundane stuff.  or simple things like how my bank, who shall remain nameless, removed a coin counting machine-the only reason I opened an account with them in the first place-because…wait for it…too many people were using it.  yes…too many people found their service useful, so they stopped.  it boggles the mind. 

so saturday morning, I woke up with bitcoin on my mind.  I wanted to start experimenting with the currency.  luckily, not only does berlin have the alleged largest bitcoin local economy in the world, but said economy is located in kruezberg, my neighborhood!  yaaaay!!  I figured I would go to the hub of all things bitcoin in berlin, a bar called Room 77, so I posted on facebook to see if anyone wanted to tag along.  while researching the array of bitcoin businesses in the area, I discovered that berlins first bitcoin exchange event was happening that afternoon!  YAAAAAY!!!


Aaron Koenig, stated at the beginning of the Berlin Bitcoin Exchange event, held at Platoon Kunsthalle, that he had been inspired by similar events held in new york and decided to do one here in Berlin.  there were about 50 people, including myself, all excited about the paradigm shift this currency presented.  for my part, I, wearing my “buyer” sticker on my shirt, acquired 1 bitcoin from a local seller who, along with the bitcoin, also provided a wealth of information of all aspects of the currency; political, social, personal and humanity scale.  everyone, buyers and sellers, were extremely passionate and optimistic about what it could all mean.

the exchange itself was surpringly shcoking in its frictionlessness.  I paid for the coin, opened my tablet, on which I had already installed a bitcoin wallet (a piece of software that holds the bitcoins) and before I could check to see how this type of transaction would work, “ching, ching!” I am told I have one bitcoin!  completely frictionless!  no email, no click-thru, no sign up or questionaire.  just peer to peer transfer of wealth.  this is mind blowing!!  it doesn’t even matter at this point if bitcoin fails later.  the paradigm is so seductive that it will be evolved into something that builds on this simple elegance (remember how napster “failed”?  but the idea lived, mutated and evolved into entire ecosystems).

2013-06-29 18.14.33afterward the transaction, I began to think about busking for bitcoins.  its frictionless.  no hats or other pyhsical  containers.  no making change.  just a qr code.  the tip is on the interweb, safe and secure, as long as you follow proper precautions like encrypting your wallet and backing up your “keys”.  (buskers know the feeling of having a great day after making lots of cash and being a bit paranoid on the way home that someone might try and rob you).  so I decided to do a little experiment and “busk for bitcoins” there at the exchange.

Anyone who knows me knows at least 2 things;

1. I can talk quite a bit

2013-06-29 18.18.432. I never leave home without my exo-voice (that’s just how I roll)

Graciously, Platoon and the BXB Guys allowed me, unrehearsed, to busk for bitcoins.  I placed my tablet on a nearby table, displaying the QR code, then proceeded to hack my way thru a torrent of glitches and false starts.  but it was enough to get a feel for the concept.  I ended up making about .3BTC (a little over $35!), which I reinvested back into the bitcoin economy immediately, by way of buying a round of drinks and a burger later at Room 77, but I must take this moment to shift topics a bit…

3d printing with elastic

After said experimental performance, I looked at the pictures like the one above and was completely taken aback by the disharmony of aesthetics.  so much effort to refine the exo-voice appearance to convey function as an aesthetic, only to have it stomped on by my own lazy fashion sense.  Berlin is a relaxed place and I am relaxed in it but plaid shirts and cyborg prosthetics don’t work together at all.

IMG_20130620_141628IMG_20130623_150713IMG_20130624_145315For the last few weeks, I have been experimenting with a 3d printable rubber elastic material from 3dprintsystems.  I have had it for a while, but only recently realized that I could use it with my huxley reprap by calibrating the print speed and temperature (very slow and very hot).  now I can print things that are very strong and very flexible.  think shoe soles or bike tires.  I have been working the material into the design of the systems that will be sent to contributors of my last campaign when it occurred to me t1065116_10151521726852496_1019242990_oo investigate creation of a lattice of shapes that could be used to cover my body and provide a surface to attach things to.  This “exo-skin” trajectory is providing a wealth of info on creating small interlocking strtures capable of acting as a skin which I can modify and parameterize over time.  the idea is still new but after my BXB performance, I realized that function must be first, but, if the lack of aesthetic consideration distracts from said function, then it must be corrected.  over the coming weeks, the exo-skin will replace my curent performance wear and will have a space in my bag for those time when I need to inhabit the construct.  I mean, batman, without the batsuit is just an asshole who needs therapy, innit?

Back to the story…

after we left Platoon we went to Room 77, the deacto hub of the Bitcoin economy in berlin.  it is situated in area affectionately known as the “Bitcoinkiez” (pronounced bitcoin KEETS)  many of the buisnesses in this area on and around Graefestrasse, take bitcoin. 


(note, I got to chat extensively with all the guys in this video)

This place was where I had intended to go, all day.  its very local-vibey (another way of saying berlin-y which iam really tired of saying); couches, big burgers, chilled vibe, etc.  I and a couple of people for the exchange met up there, drank, ate and discussed all things future and monetary.  you really should try it!  it was so overwhelmingly cathartic to discuss the future and economics without a hint of doom and gloom.  this was new to me because I have always been…hmmm…not so much “poor” as “having just enough to not die or make too many people mad at me at once”.  using cash for everything, as I did in my early adulthood, compresses your scope of possiblity.  banks always seem to find a way of pissing in your morning coffee.  suddenly we were discussing things like possibilty and opportunity without a parallel discussion on how much of our souls we would have to sell off to entities with big pocketbooks. 

2013-06-29 22.25.18later we had a round of shots with the owner, Joerg Platzer, who exudes a charisma and personality that explains how and why this area is so invested in bitcoin.  he definitely puts his bitcoins where is mouth is, from his activism locally in hosting bitcoin meetups in his establishment to projects like Bitcointablet.org which aims to provide decentralized communication and currency technology for schóols in developing countries.  chatting with him gave us an insight into the the vibe going on in the bitcoin space;  pushing economic models in the direction of redistribution of wealth.  I’m not saying that I am a bitcoin zealot yet, but I find the whole concept interesting enough to at least pay attention to what is happening in the space and to begin inhabiting it a bit. 

I have added permanent bitcoin addresses to all of my blog posts and I will be integrating it into future crowdfunding models (online and the trusty offline [busking] version).  I think it will integrate well with some of the sonic presentation concepts I’m playing with.  the future is getting more and more interesting by the day.