Dance and the Blockchain. Commodification and ownership of embodied creativity in the crypto space


Target Group

PhD students of the Doctoral School of AHL. PhD students from the Flemish Area. MA and PhD students from other institutions. Researchers and artists interested in the topic.

Organizing & Scientific Committee

    Jorge P. Yánez
    Faculty: Arts and Philosophy
    Department: Studies in Performing Arts and Media

    Other members of the organising & scientific committee

    Prof. Dr. Christel Stalpaert [Studies in Performing Arts and Media]
    Prof. Dr. Pieter-Jan Maes [Institute for Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music]
    Dr. Annelies Van Assche [Studies in Performing Arts and Media]


    This course aims to unveil the intertwined dynamics of creativity, ownership, agency and commoditization/assetization of the performing arts on the blockchain through artistic, legal and technological considerations. Theoretical and practical sessions will offer complementary insights about tokenizing intangible culture in the advent of the web 3.0 as the body, its movements and likeness make their entrance into the crypto-space.

    Topic and Objectives

    The central topic is the role of new crypto-tech and the metaverse, to (1) destabilize ownership dynamics for the performing arts industry, (2) allow new forms of organization among performing artists (3) problematize the notion of their corporeality as it expands towards/inside/across the digital space(s). There is extensive media coverage on the solidity of crypto-currencies and the current art markets’ craze on digital creativity and NFTs, but little or no academic discussion is being held to provoke real insight on how these technologies impact the performing arts sector. This issue will be tackled not as a monolithic incident but as a multi-layered phenomenon involving legal, cultural and financial aspects for the circulation of creativity. Such heightened degree of digitization of cultural expressions, with the commodification that it entails, needs to be reckoned for obtaining a nuanced perspective not only about the future of the blockchain but also its present decentralizing applications for artists.

    The multidisciplinary angle of this course implies a great range of specialization of the invited speakers as well as for the fields that relate to the learning outcomes expected from participants. In this sense, regarding the technical/technological angle around the topic, insight on how to ‘mint’ and NFT, either based on an ‘emote’ or a small sequence of movement is expected. A variation of this outcome is the base-knowledge on minting an NFT connected to a still or moving image. Regarding the legal aspect of the course, participants should learn to identify the overlapping layers of ownership/authorship over digital assets on the blockchain, including but not limited to IP-related rights. Complementarily, and within the cultural ramifications of the topic, participants are expected to gain understanding on both, the possibilities as well as the risks of commodifying cultural practices in the crypto-space. This learning outcome involves familiarity with the most prominent discourses and stances around the financialization/assetization processes afforded by blockchain technologies. On the artistic front, the content and activities facilitated are aimed to offer points of entry to articulate reflections around the expansion of the notion of corporeality within the digital space and its entailing resonances with concepts such as ‘embodied archive’ and ‘knowledge-in-action’, thus bridging the kinetic repositories performed both by physical bodies and avatars, respectively.

    Dates and Venue

      24th, 25th, and 26th of August 2022

      ASIL Laboratory at IPEM -Institute for Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music, located at De Krook Library (Gent – 9000)

      Program and Time schedule

        • Wednesday, August 24

        09:30-10:00: Registration

        10:00-10:30: Introduction by Christel Stalpaert and Jorge Poveda Yánez – S:PAM Research Centre, Faculty of Arts and Letters at Ghent University.

        The current processes of digitization of the dancing bodies in the digital space, archive-fever, power dynamics and new generation technologies.

        10:30-12:00: “Blockchain for the arts, music and artistic research” with Adam Łukawski - Orpheus Institute

        During this session, participants will learn about the current state-of-the-art of blockchain technologies for the arts, including topics such as NFTs, Decentralised Autonomous Organisations, and examples of creative uses of this technology in the artistic world. Additionally, new horizons of thought for the development of blockchain technologies will be presented in the context of artistic research on the novel concepts of hypermusic and geomusic as well as on algorithmic composition conducted by the research cluster MetamusicX at Orpheus Institute, Ghent.

        12:00-14:00: Lunch Break

        14:00-16:00: “Embodiment + Computational Creativity + Blockchain” with Marlon Barrios Solano and Lenara Verle - MotionDAO

        This workshop introduces the MotionDAO vision, mission and Web3 onboarding strategies as a way to map the complex and fast paced blockchain ecosystem in order to inquire about its affordances as an art medium, as a financial innovation framework and as a sociotechnical/organizational redesign. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the embodied ‘tech stack’ of MotionDAO, the importance of generativity, complexity and choreographic thinking. They will be offered the opportunity to create a crypto wallet that will allow them to mint NFTs, interact with a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) and speculate about possible futures.

        COMPLEMENTARY ACTIVITY* 16h30-17h30: Practical session at IPEM – ASIL. Demonstration of VR settings for engaging with revived cultural heritage objects in electronic music in the context of the IPEM XRhive Project. Guided by Pieter Jan-Maes, Professor at the Department of Art, Music and Theatre Sciences – IPEM (Institute for Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music).

        • Thursday, August 25

        10:00-12:00: Theoretical/Practical Workshop with Patrick Tresset – Independent Artist

        In this session, participants will engage with the creative affordances of intertwining embodied practices, data, movement and blockchain architectures in the digital space. Patrick’s work and practice will help illustrate these topics. He is best known for his performative installations using robotic agents as stylized actors that make marks and for his exploration of the drawing practice using computational systems and robots.

        12:00-14:00: Lunch Break

        14:00-16:00: “Copyright, Choreography & the Blockchain” with Simon Geiregat – Ghent University

        Who "owns" choreographic and other artworks, and what does Blockchain have to do with it? Following an introduction to some general copyright concepts, this lecture focuses on the facts and fibs surrounding today's digital and artistic ownership debates. Particular attention is spent to the emerging phenomenon of art NFTs, pleading for extra caution.

        COMPLEMENTARY ACTIVITY*: 16h30 – 17h30. Practical session at IPEM-ASIL. Demonstration of computerised immersive environments for embodied creativity in the context of the project ‘Practicing Odin Teatret’s archive: training, transmission, interaction and creativity’. Guided by Adriana Parente La Selva and Ioulia Marouda, researchers at IPEM (Institute for Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music).

        •  Friday, August 26th

        10:00-10:30: “Redefining ownership in the digital realm - beyond copyright and access restrictions, towards supporting creators and the cultural commons” with Lenara Verle – MotionDAO

        In this talk, Lenara expands on the question of why buying art? A new form of ownership powered by the blockchain reaffirms many good reasons for doing it, plus one more: enriching the cultural commons. Rare Digital Art is a relatively new phenomenon and one of the new applications of blockchain technology. It allows the creation of a market for digital art, something that was not really possible until now.

        10:30-11:30: “Innovation in safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage through NFTs and the metaverse” with Gustavo Caicedo – Global Creativity

        Gustavo presents the case of Axolotl NFT's as a mechanism to increase public attention to an issue and as a strategy to raise funds for an environmentally responsible cause. From that experience an NFT is a block in the blockchain, it can be an image, but also a moving image and/or a sound, that opens the possibility of registering movements and sounds linked to elements and expressions of Cultural Heritage. Immaterial, allowing the bearers of these
        elements to register the intellectual property of an image, a movement and/or a sound in a digital format that will have a high value in the metaverse.

        11:30-12:30: “Expressing ourselves on the battlefield and stepping into machines” with Nina Davies – Goldsmiths University of London.

        As a part of "Dance and the Blockchain", Nina will be acting as resident artist. Since co-writing "Dancing Someone else's movements using someone else's body", with Jorge Poveda Yánez, Nina has been developing a fictional traditional dance to use as a tool to help think through the ethics of putting dance onto the blockchain. Through-out the three days, she will engage with the emerging discourses as if she were a traditional "Bionic Step" dancer and will produce a fictional report about the course as an artwork at the end. Nina will introduce participants to her work "Express Yourself on the Battlefield" - a video essay which lays out some of the key concerns with digitizing the dancing body.

        12:30-14:00: Lunch Break

        14:00-15:00: Interdisciplinary panel on the potentialities, challenges and future developments surrounding “Dance and the Blockchain” moderated by Jorge Poveda Yánez – Ghent University

        Participants and speakers of the course are invited to critically engage in a nuanced conversation about the potentials but also the risks and downfalls of encrypting performing arts expressions, while reviewing and expanding the content of the three days of the course.

        15:00-16:30: Collaborative artistic exhibition moderated by Nina Davies - Goldsmiths University of London.

        As the closure for the Doctoral Course, participants are expected to present their thoughts on an art work that has been done about/with/within any kind of blockchain architecture or using resources based on crypto-technologies.

        COMPLEMENTARY ACTIVITY*: 16h30 – 17h00. Ludic and participative demonstration of new digital environments for embodied creativity by Marlon Barrios and Lenara Verle – MotionDAO


        Please follow this link

        If the course is fully booked, you can ask to be added to the waiting list by sending an e-mail to . In case of cancellations, you can take the open place.

        Registration fee

        Free of charge for Doctoral School members of Arts, Humanities and Law.

        Teaching material

        Papers, articles, art-works and moving-image materials from the experts artists involved in the course and others. Every participant should study one of the 4 text provided in advance, as well as consult on one of the 4 works of art dealing with the blockchain, to elaborate upon, during the sessions scheduled. There will be allotted time for group discussion and feedback around the materials.

        Number of participants

        Maximum 30 participants.



        Evaluation methods and criteria (doctoral training programme)

        At least 75% of attendance is required from students enrolled and an active participation is expected during the sessions.

        Participants who require credits for undertaking a specialist course as part of their doctoral studies at Ghent University approve the course by completing a successful presentation during the ‘Collaborative artistic exhibition’, according to the guidelines included in the rubric provided beforehand for this activity.

        *Not compulsory activity