The Meaning of “VooGlue”

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When people first hear “VooGlue,” they often wonder aloud what the name means. “Sounds like a cross between Voodoo and glue,” is a common reaction.

VooGlue founder and CEO Brian Carew-Hopkins did in fact come up with the name as a combination of those two words. But since Voodoo has, like many ancient words, taken on a skewed meaning in popular culture (namely that of magical dolls with pins stuck in them to inflict pain on one’s enemies and the resurrection of the dead as zombies), it’s worth explaining Voodoo’s true meaning and how that fits together with VooGlue’s vision.

Voodoo is in fact a West African animist tradition that goes back at least a thousand years, with the current pop-culture component of it deriving much later from interaction with Haitian immigrants to the US. Benin is regarded as the birthplace of the Voodoo tradition, with the name itself simply meaning ‘spirit’ in the local Fon language.

What sets the real Voodoo apart in the modern context, however, is the way it survived in the face of the enslavement and cultural annihilation perpetrated in West Africa between the 16th and 19th centuries. At the time, Voodoo became a cultural “folkway”: a common understanding among local inhabitants that could not be destroyed by the European slave traders. Traditions and beliefs were passed down, often secretly, through the generations, surviving the invaders best efforts to obscure or eliminate them.

It is this reference to a truth that cannot be destroyed that makes Voodoo the perfect word to encapsulate what VooGlue accomplishes. Just as Voodoo was a way for a cultural truth to survive despite the efforts to destroy it, VooGlue enables the truth of an artwork’s origin, ownership, and meaning to survive no matter who possesses it and where it is located. This is accomplished with the use of a distributed public blockchain.

The “glue” in VooGlue refers to the permanent “gluing” of a multimedia counterpart to a physical artwork, again accomplished with mechanisms enabled by a distributed public blockchain. This multimedia counterpart could be anything from a time-lapse video of the art being produced, to a clip of the artist explaining the artwork. By permanently attaching this counterpart to an artwork, the artist’s true vision has a greater chance of surviving throughout the lifetime of the physical art, and even beyond.

Inspired by a culture that could not be destroyed, VooGlue’s mission is to ensure that art’s providence and meaning survive, and that the art world thrives for a new generation.

Stunning Pieces of Cryptocurrency-themed Art

Art has always been used as a way to describe and depict revolutions, so it’s no surprise that artists are choosing the themes associated with blockchain technology as inspiration for art that is relevant in the modern climate. Bitcoin of course has its origins in the disillusionment and anger caused by the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent bailout of the banking elite. It was created as a radically new (revolutionary?) alternative. Artists clearly sense the revolution that has been started by the decentralization movement. Themes that are being explored in the crypto-inspired art include the quest for freedom, trusting in math rather than people, globalized decentralization, regulation, new governance models, and balance of power.

Fine Art

These themes have first and foremost been expressed in fine art that is sold online and in galleries around the world. London-based Italian artist Valentina Picozzi is exploring them in her Satoshi Gallery, a collection started in 2015 with the idea to “make Bitcoin cooler from an iconographic point of view, in order to reach more people and help them embracing Bitcoin values.”:

A screaming George Washington, selling for ₿0.5

A famous quote from Bitcoin’s “founder” Satoshi Nakamoto, selling for ₿0.8

Another well-known visual artist working in this space is Vesa Kivinen, who started ArtForCrypto.com. Vesa produces mixed media works by taking photographs of his oil and body-paintings as well as images from nature. The digital collages are then printed onto high end diasec, canvas, re-painted canvas and poster prints:

“What Color Lamborghini Should I Get?”

Pop Art and T-shirts

The themes currently being explored are also increasingly expressed in pop-art form and on T-shirts and other accessories.

Julia Tourianski is one artist in this space. As a promoter of anti-state mentality, she makes videos, writes articles, and helps organize events such as Toronto’s Liberty Now. She also produces and sells pop-art through her website Bravetheworld.

Another active artist in this space goes by the name Cryptograffiti and creates art through the lens of “the blockchain challenging the status quo.”  Early in his career he was on the first artists to utilize a public-facing wallet to receive crypto donations for street art. This enabled passersby to send bitcoin in support of his art.

Cryptograffiti’s “U Pay” street art

In addition to the usual media that artists work in, crypto-inspired art has been evolving into a few unique platforms:

Cold Storage Artwork

This is a medium that is being notably explored by Texas-based CryptoArt, which helps people understand, enjoy, and collect digital currencies.

The crypto-themed artwork doubles as a public address (displayed in a QR code on the front) and a cold storage wallet (with the private key sealed under a security sticker on the back).

Physical Coins

Cyptocurrencies of course have no physical form, but a thriving niche of collectors and enthusiasts have created demand for artists to produce beautifully crafted coins inspired by them. These coins serve the double purpose of giving a physical representation when explaining cryptocurrencies to newcomers, and as a collector’s item for those who see them as a piece of the technology’s history.

Maxfield Mellenbruch, expanding on the ethos of cryptocurrencies through his stunning series of physicals, is behind Kialara a collection of intricately designed physical coins with high-quality craftsmanship. Some of the coins, like the cold storage artwork, can be loaded with actual crytpocurrency.

A different form of physical Bitcoins is being created by Los Angeles-based German artist Matthias Dörfelt, who uses the hashes from 64 random blocks combined with his unique software to make an eccentric pattern that in its way is a physical representation of a coin. Dörfelt says every bill is created entirely with code except for the signature. Dörfelt has created a series of 64 banknotes from the blockchain.

“Block Bills” by Matthias Dörfelt