Google is launching a broad new effort to support the arts, in a way particularly appropriate to its role and business, with a project called DevArt that highlights modern artists using technology in general, and code in particular, to create their work.
The project will kick-off as an exhibit in The Barbican performing arts center in London, complete with four separate art installations. To prepare for that, Google is calling for developers to fill one of those spots to exhibit alongside three featured artists who’ve already been chosen to show their stuff, and who are featured in the videos below.
Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet
Google commissioned the artists to create brand new interactive installations for the inaugural show, using Google APIs, as well as its web products and services. Some of the technologies involve include Kinect, Unity, WebGl, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Google+, Maps, Twitter and YouTube to name just a few. Those chosen by Google to participate are going to be maintaining an ongoing log of their progress with the exhibits, via Project Pages run by each artist.
If you think you’ve got the coding skills to be the next Hacktisse (that’s terrible but it’s the best I can do) then you can enter to be the fourth exhibitor at this summer’s exhibition via Google’s DevArt website. Submissions are tracked via GitHub, and entries must be submitted by March 28 to be considered, with the winner revealed April 15, 2014.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Last Friday, 40 people gathered at an apartment in lower Manhattan to take a look at a series of works by the artist Alexandra Posen. The pieces — colored wax on paper worked into abstract forms — sat informally against the window, and the group tossed out questions as Posen talked the group through her process.
This isn’t what you think of when someone says “tech startup.”
But a young company called Gertrude is hoping to change that, by turning art experiences into a commodity and becoming a worldwide meetup platform for art salons. It’s named for Gertrude Stein, whose salons drove art discussion in the 1920s.
Founded by ex-Googler Kenneth Schlenker, Gertrude has been hosting private meetups for the last year with curators ranging from the head curator of the Whitney Museum to well-known Chelsea gallerists, and today it opens its event listings to the public.
The site allows curators to post salon listings, which anyone can then peruse and join. The salons are meant to be an open atmosphere for discussion, and the curators might range from major gallerists to the art afficionado next door, although there is an application process to host.
There are a few rules: the salon lasts one hour, only 40 people may attend, and it is led by a curator who has hand-selected a range of ten pieces to discuss.
While other art-oriented startups like Art.sy, Artspace, and Paddle8 deal with the high-end commercial side of the industry, Gertrude is built on the idea that the experience of art is not only more scalable but also holds a wider appeal. Part social, part educational, Gertrude is a meetup platform for people to enjoy visual art at a low cost. And it’s monetizing on that experience.
Referencing the Rain Room that had visitors flocking to MoMA this summer and Jay-Z’s “Picasso Baby” performance at the Pace Gallery in New York, Schlenker posits that art, like music, is increasingly becoming a live, interactive experience.
“A lot of people wanted to create startups in the art world but missed out on the fact that it’s an experience, not a product,” Schlenker said.
Curators have the option to invite select guests before the event opens to the public, but the site requires that at least five slots be left open to prevent it from becoming too exclusive. The host sets the ticket price, which might range from $0 to $175 or $10,000.
Gertrude then takes cut of the sales, which varies based on the ticket price but on average sits at about 25%. If a work of art is sold through the salon, Gertrude takes a cut there as well, although it’s less than the 50% that most galleries take.
Because Schlenker’s strong point is technology, not art, Astrid de Maismont heads up curation for Gertrude, bringing on board curators and art advisors.
In the coming months, Gertrude may add other event formats, including performances, private viewings, studio visits, and dinners with artists.
If the proposition comes off as simultaneously highbrow and plebian, that’s kind of the point. Down the line, the goal is to have the head curator of the Whitney showing well-established artists on the same day that someone in Bushwick shows works from their favorite local artists. While the art world has in many ways been built on opacity and exclusivity, major galleries and auction houses are beginning to realize that that model isn’t sustainable, Schlenker said. Whether big-name curators continue to gravitate to it in an effort to reach a broader audience remains to be seen — not that it’s inherently a good or bad thing.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Originally dubbed ‘the single currency,’ the euro has been around for a decade and was in the works for another decade before it entered circulation in 2002. At the time, it was something revolutionary, a bold initiative that could have failed multiple times along the way.
Yet, it hasn’t become the universal currency and the European Central Bank is now testing the boundaries of the euro. Bitcoin could be the surprising and beautifully designed world cryptocurrency that will take the euro’s dreams to the next level. We will discuss this at Disrupt Europe later this month.
There are a few reasons why the euro will always stay limited in scope. As one can read in 1992′s Maastricht Treaty (the Treaty on the European Union), the euro is “a single and stable currency,” nothing fancier than that. In other words, its creation mechanisms are similar to those of any other modern currency. There is a central bank, there are interest rates.
Moreover, stating that the euro is a “stable currency” is already very political. It refers to Germany’s old traumatism of hyperinflation — at all times, the euro has to avoid inflation. This is probably the most important way the European Central Bank differs from the U.S. Federal Reserve — price stability comes first in Europe. Even though politics and monetary policies are supposed to be separate, this rule proves that it’s not the case.
These days, as everyone can see with Greece’s economic troubles, the only adjustment variable is jobs. When a eurozone country is no longer as competitive as its neighbors, prices stay the same. Consumption falls and the unemployment rate rises. To fight unemployment, many have to accept pay cuts. European governments would rather create a giant help fund than endanger the euro’s stability.
For all these reasons, the euro is just another traditional currency used in a few countries. It shares all the same weak points.
Bitcoin is nothing like that. It was born on the idea that nobody could regulate it. Instead of having a central bank, Bitcoins are just a chain of characters defined by algorithmic rules. Anybody can try to find new Bitcoins and anybody can verify if it is indeed a real Bitcoin or not. All of this is handled by open-source Bitcoin applications and a few proprietary variants.
By definition, Bitcoin is apolitical. It is its greatest strength and weakness. As long as you have access to the right technological tools (a computer, internet access…), you can make transactions in Bitcoins. When the economy thrives or stagnates, Bitcoin will have its own separate trend. As the great crash of April 2013 shows us, it is as volatile as it can get. While it is still early to see significant mainstream Bitcoin use cases, the story of this new currency is a fascinating one.
And we’re excited to reveal that we will hold a panel at Disrupt Europe in late October in Berlin with Shakil Khan (CoinDesk) Pamir Gelenbe (st-ART/Bitcoin London) and Nejc Kodric (Bitstamp). Khan is an expert when it comes to Bitcoin news, while Gelenbe has successfully organized the Bitcoin London conference. Finally, Kodric is the co-founder and CEO of the largest European Bitcoin exchange, and the second one in the world behind Mt. Gox. They will all have interesting thoughts to share on the future of Bitcoin, its caveats and more.
What happens when your Bitcoin wallet value in euros falls by 50 percent in a day? If your company pays you in Bitcoins, it sounds like bad news. The future of Bitcoin as a mainstream currency is unclear. Make no mistake, the euro will remain the dominant currency in eurozone for now.
To avoid disastrous news like that, many countries, including the U.S. and Germany, are trying to regulate Bitcoins. If you really want to use Bitcoins, you’ll have to prove that you’re ready to handle the financial risks.
Back in August, a federal judge in Texas has declared that Bitcoin was a currency and should be regulated just like euros or U.S. dollars. This decision threatened Bitcoin’s utopian concept.
“The only limitation of Bitcoin is that it is limited to those places that accept it as currency,” wrote Judge Amos Mazzant. “However, it can also be exchanged for conventional currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, Euro, Yen, and Yuan. Therefore, Bitcoin is a currency or form of money,” the judge continued.
Similarly, New York’s financial services stated that Bitcoin companies should respect the current financial regulatory guidelines. Making sure that these companies are all on the same page when they operate in the U.S. is necessary to protect customers. Moreover, New York’s top banking regulator wants to write a new set of rules to decrease illegal Bitcoin activities.
“We have also seen instances where the cloak of anonymity provided by virtual currencies has helped support dangerous criminal activity, such as drug smuggling, money laundering, gun running, and child pornography,” Financial Services superintendent Benjamin M. Lawsky said in a statement. ”Taking steps to root out illegal activity is both a legal and business imperative for virtual currency firms,” he added.
Finally, following a parliamentary inquiry, Germany stated that Bitcoin should be considered as “private money.” It has many implications, starting by paying sales tax (VAT). While the conclusions are simple, the execution is more complicated as Germany is a mere member of the eurozone. If Germany really wants to pursue this further, it will probably have to lobby European institutions to change the rules on a European level.
All these rulings prove one thing: Bitcoin won’t be able to remain an unregulated currency for long. It won’t work similarly in every country of the world. Soon, Bitcoin users and companies will have to find a way to avoid tax, and authorities have a say in what you are doing with your Bitcoins.
It is not necessarily a bad thing as using a totally unregulated currency is unsustainable for many industries and use cases. But Bitcoin’s true purpose is not what everyone originally expected.
The Bitcoin network is a peer-to-peer payment network, you don’t need any banking institution to make large transfers. Instead of replacing the euro, the cryptocurrency could become the first meta-currency, a new currency that sits on top of traditional currencies for very specific use cases.
With the euro, European Union member countries wanted to create a second world currency to compete with U.S. dollars. Having a dominant currency has many advantages. According to French historian Jacques Rueff, countries (such as the U.S.) who use a major currency can sustainably keep a negative balance of payments — he calls that the “deficit without tears.”
In many ways, the European Union was successful with the euro. While it hasn’t become the universal currency, no one can deny that the euro is a major world currency. But now that two different currencies matter on a global scale, economic agents need a tool that sits between U.S. dollars and euros. Currently, about 100 percent of foreign exchange transactions involve dollars (out of 200 percent because forex transactions involve two currencies) compared to 64 percent for euros.
Bitcoin can become the common language between USD and EUR. To use Bitcoins in Italy or Ecuador, you don’t have to pay any fees. Moreover, you can exchange some Bitcoins in dollars when you’re investing in Ecuador, or exchange some Bitcoins in euros when you’re investing in Italy. Bitcoin is a money transfer protocol as much as a currency. For now, this aspect is underused but could actually become Bitcoin’s most interesting future prospect.
Disrupt Europe will take over Arena Berlin October 26-29. Tickets are currently on sale here. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, opportunities can be found here. If you are interested in Startup Alley, information can be found here. Join the conversation by using #DisruptBerlin here.
(Image credit: Zach Copley)
Article courtesy of TechCrunch