Simon Denny, Artist Champion of the Bitcoin Age, Shows Real-World Works at Hammer Museum

Go ahead – read all you want about blockchain technology, the transaction records of virtual currencies such as bitcoins. And when it seems like it makes sense, try this: Explain it someone else. Good luck with that. But now comes Simon Denny, who wants to use his creations to validate the technology, or at least herald its arrival. Denny, a Berlin artist originally from New Zealand, brings his sculptures and stamp-sheet prints for an eponymous showing at Westwood’s Hammer Museum in late January.

While bitcoin may feel like yesterday’s news, there remain pioneers of the technology now developing and popularizing virtual currencies and even adapting blockchain technology for other financial transactions, such as insurance. And Denny is their artist, their Toulouse-Lautrec if you will, but not of Belle Epoque Paris but of the new order in an international wired world. (Please don’t think this is a dig at the potential for virtual currencies: They will likely soon be popularized in value-for-value propositions such as payment to avoid online advertising or other premium Internet services. It’s just funny to find them to be an inspiration for artistic agitprop.)

Props to Denny, whose show is part of the Hammer Project series, for creating a series of stamp designs that look like works of art – raising the question of whether international postal services will pick up and real-life packages paid for with virtual currency. The designs, co-signed by Linda Kantchev, are striking, contemporary and appear absolutely authentic. And the perforations suggest the concept of blockchains.

“I think that work that is being done by blockchain visionary companies right now has the potential to change some of the most fundamental societal building blocks from which our world is built – money, sovereignty, trust,” Denny told Bitcoin Magazine. “These are the things that are potentially at stake here, and are being reimagined by very smart, very active people.”

An earlier version of the Hammer show, “Blockchain Future States” was at the Petzel Gallery in New York, and featured life-size images of the leaders of the three leading blockchain companies – Digital Asset Holdings, 21 Inc. and Ethereum. He places them next to objects such as a board game of Risk, a Phoenix rising from a globe and a Pokemon character, to illustrate the opportunities and challenges in blockchain’s future.

“Hammer Projects: Simon Denny” is Jan. 21 – April 29 at the Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood.