Learn about Lans King, the artist who surgically embedded his art into his body and registered it onto the blockchain on the Codex Registry.
Lans King is a self-taught artist who came from a background in cognitive sciences. He also worked in digital communication agencies while developing his artwork in parallel. For a long time, King has been interested in the relationship between the real and the digital and creates art around the concept of “The New Real”. We live in a time of unparalleled technological advancement, to the point where reality and simulation can become indistinguishable. King’s work focuses on the idea of hyperreality and our inability to separate the two in modern society.
For years King has included code into his artistic creations, continuing to blur the boundaries between technology and physical reality. His background in computer sciences and the arts naturally lead him to an interest in the blockchain and art space and he is now exploring the idea of putting art on to the blockchain. His latest work, launched April 5th 2019, called “This is my body (of work)” pushes his concepts to the extreme as he plans to put his entire artist self on the blockchain.
On March 22, 2019, King flew to Sweden and had an NFD chip surgically inserted into his hand that was encoded with a specific blockchain address. This code is registered onto a single Codex Record as the conceptual artwork This is my body (of work), 2019 on to the Codex Registry and will include it in all of his future works.
View the work on Codex in King’s gallery here.
The blurred lines of reality and technology
This conceptual work is furthering to blur the line between reality and simulation of reality. The work itself is a conceptual work, but the key to the work is the NFD microchip. The encoded chip was implanted by Jowan Österlund, CEO of BioHax. The company has already implanted them into a number of people for use as keys and even bank cards. The work is conceptual (represented by a code on a chip) yet physically connected to the artist. But why take such a radical direction with the chip and use it as art? What is King conveying in this work and statement? The artist says:
This artwork opens a dialogue regarding humanity and technology… In this case, I’m using a radical and controversial piece of technology which is a biochip — it’s a microchip that I’ve implanted inside my body. So that raises other questions about its effects on our humanity: We’re at a point where we carry devices in our pockets every day; do we want to push the boundaries and put them inside our bodies? What are the implications of inserting digital technology into our bodies? What are the effects on our daily lives?
The rapid evolution of technology is changing the way we live, love, communicate and create. I’ve always used algorithms and code to create my paintings and sculptures in order to show that. This is a seminal work which will be linked to all of my artwork going forward because they will all carry the code that is stored on the implanted microchip.
Then I learned about the blockchain which uses secret codes (cryptographic codes) to track activities in daily life such as financial transactions.
In fact, much of our lives are captured and encoded as data. We’re becoming more conscious of how these data are used by algorithms that can be helpful or harmful. So now we’re more concerned about finding the right balance between privacy & transparency, security & freedom.
Art and blockchain as a disruptor
King’s segue to blockchain and art came from his lifelong connection to mathematics and university study of cognitive sciences and human/machine interaction. That, paired with a career in digital agencies while building an art career kept him at the cusp of the latest in technology. The beginning of his interest in blockchain came from a fascination in decentralized technologies and the technology’s disruptive nature. Furthermore, King says:
Blockchain technology has a revolutionary aspect in the way that it’s decentralised; it’s not owned or controlled by anyone. It’s almost creating a kind of movement in itself in the way it distributes power and access. I like its disruptive nature so I wanted to see how it could be applied to make art. In a way, the blockchain itself is like a conceptual artwork in that it has no physical existence. I saw some early blockchain works and I want to see how interested to see how far I could push this further for my own work.
What’s next for the work?
“For now, the work is inside me as code, embedded in a microchip and the chip is implanted in my hand. Perhaps it the smallest physical “artefact” that has ever existed…it’s a kind of “digital readymade”. I’m currently in discussion with potential collectors….and maybe one day it will be donated to a museum.”
Upon purchase of the work, King will remove the chip from his hand and the collector will receive both the chip and the Codex Record containing the code and image associated with the chip. This revolutionary piece leverages the immutability of the blockchain ledger system to create an everlasting record of the artist and his work, and the irony of modern society’s blurred connection of reality and technology.
Follow along King’s journey and “This is my body (of work)” on his website here.
View the work on the blockchain in King’s Codex gallery here.
Apply for a public collection on Codex here.
Written by: Corinne Moshy
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