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382181_Every Path in Vain

  • Smart Contract NFT and Lightbox
  • Found Archival Images, Found Texts, Custom GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks), Blender, Custom
  • TIFF
  • 35433 x 19929 px / 300 x 168.7 cm
  • Minted 2023 // 0xc8DfA79fE6818CE3dBe2221179e1FBA728B4Cf2b // 141


The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings. From any of the hexagons one can see, interminably, the upper and lower floors. The distribution of the galleries is invariable. Twenty shelves, five long shelves per side, cover all the sides except two; their height, which is the distance from floor to ceiling, scarcely exceeds that of a normal bookcase

Jorge Luis Borges, Library of Babel, 1944

A new body of work made in direct response to the French national collection of the Monnaie de Paris, the Blueprints hijack original blueprints and architectural drawing from the museum’s collections and rework them into large scale abstractions.             


Taking these drawings as a starting point, they have been interwoven with diagrams, patents, network maps, literature and digital aesthetics taken from the history of blockchains to present imagined structures that present the collision of these two at time competing systems of thought - the centralised and the decentralised.

The resultant works speak to the cultural and philosophical rewiring of value systems in the age of blockchain while also forging aesthetic and conceptual links with the past. The works reference art history as diverse as seminal neuron drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934) to early ASCII graffiti on the blockchain such as Len Sassaman’s ASCII Bernanke.

Each work commences with an AI ASCII background trained on a database as blueprints assembled by Robert Alice. Using this as the basis for a compositional structure, the original blueprints from the Monnaie de Paris are fragmented and fractured into decentralised rewirings or territories before being layered again with a further ASCII encoding based on the final image.

Using the letters ‘MCV’ as the encoding for the ASCII encryption, Alice refers to a key text for their practice and thinking about the philosophy of blockchains, Jorge Luis Borges’ short story ‘The Library of Babel’ (1944). Centering around the concept of an yet ultimately finite library made of infinite interconnected hexagon rooms each with the same set of shelves and books that number those shelves, Borges’ short story recounts a book within this infinite library that holds only variations of the letters MCV. The encryption ‘MCV’ in all the mutations of both Borges’ short story and now in Alice’s digital paintings stand as a link to conceptual ideas around the blockchain as a decentralised and encrypted public arch

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