These bitcoin blockchain bank notes are beautiful

By Kitty Knowles 21 September 2017

Check out the worlds best digital artists at Lumen Prize 2017.

You probably know the blockchain as a way of sending financial tokens like bitcoin.

But today the digital ‘token’ system is transparently tracking everything from Walmart’s food produce, to Buddhist spending, even sunshine.

Considering the blockchain’s already caught the eye of celeb socialites (like Paris Hilton), we’re not surprised top artists are also reflecting on its power.

Most recently, Los Angeles-based artist Mathias Dorfelt has been recognised with an esteemed Lumen Prize award for his blockchain-themed artwork.

It’s called Block Bills & it’s a beautiful array of bank notes.

These bitcoin blockchain bank notes took home a Lumen Prize this year.

What’s the point?

Recognised in this year’s Lumen Prize’s ‘Still Image’ category, Block Bills is a series of 64 banknotes inspired by the bitcoin blockchain.

Each bill has been generated randomly and is based on the unique ‘SHA-256’ hash that identifies each ‘block’ on the blockchain database.

If you wonder how much each is worth, the printed numerical value represents the approximate transfer volume of bitcoins of the corresponding block.

“All the other elements are in a lot of ways a visual interpretation of the data that is stored in each block header such as previous hash, timestamp and merkle root,” says Dorfelt.

Digest that.

Lumen Prize 2018 winners

As ever, the Lumen Prize accolades celebrate a vast range of digital art.

Other winners include a smart beating heart sculpture, to augmented reality artworks that explore digital intimacy.

We’re always impressed by this celebration of digital art from around the world.

Check out the full list of Lumen Prize’s 12 prize winners below…

Plastic Reflectic

By Thijs Biersteker with Plastic Soup Foundation, Front404 and Better Future Factory (The Netherlands)

Plastic Reflectic is an interactive mirrored installation that brings the ‘plastic soup’ in our oceans alive.

Provoking a new perspective on a pressing issue, the work addresses the heavy pollution of our waters and through interaction shows the audience that their own behaviour directly impacts our oceans.

It won: 2017 Lumen Prize Gold Award

The Unfettered Language of Machines

By Zheng Da (China)

The Unfettered Language of Machines is a five metre squared hypercube that captures your heartbeat.

The participant’s heartbeat is visualised by the installation through 240m of customised LEDs, creating a fantastic light display that reflects the visitor’s vital signs.

It won: 2017 Lumen Prize Interactive Award

Slide to Expose

By Nicole Ruggiero, Molly Soda, and Refrakt (USA and Germany)

Slide To Expose is a collaborative augmented reality project.

It explores digital intimacy, privacy, the concepts of life and death and asks how our devices aid, form, and reshape our perceptions of these experiences.

It won: 2017 Lumen Prize Founders’ Prize

Reading Plan

By Lien-cheng Wang (Taiwan)

Reading Plan is an interactive artwork composed of 23 ‘book flipping’ machines.

When members of the audience enter, the machines start to turn pages automatically and read the book at the same time.

It won: 2017 Lumen Prize 3D/Sculpture Award

Heroic Makers vs Heroic Land

By Isabelle Arvers (France)

Heroic Makers vs Heroic Land is a machinima documentary set in the Calais Jungle, France.

Using a game engine, Arvers has captured interviews with residents as the camp was dismantled by the French government.

It won: 2017 Lumen Prize Moving Image Award

Nothing Happens

By Michelle & Uri Kranot (Denmark)

A film and virtual reality project by animation directors Michelle and Uri Kranot, Nothing Happens invites you inside a singular calming universe filled with snow, black birds and poetry.

It won: 2017 Lumen Prize VR/AR Award

The Desire to Stay in the Sun

By Fabio Dartizio (UK)

Mapping out our solar system, The Desire to Stay in the Sun allows connections to be made between two different planets.

As the planets orbit the sun, the maximum distance is maintained while their only connection is revealed through the spirographs.

It won: 2017 Lumen Prize Web Based Award


By Zarah Hussain (UK)

Numina gives traditional Islamic patterns a digital overhaul.

Bringing to life a usually static artform, Hussain maps animated geometric patterns onto a sculpture composed of tessellating pyramids arranged on a hexagonal grid.

It won: 2017 Lumen Prize People’s Choice Award


By Tadej Droljc (UK)

Capillaries Capillaries is an audiovisual work inspired by the creative and destructive forces of suppressed emotions.

In the piece the suppressed emotion is represented by the algorithm that can never be heard or seen.

It won: 2017 Lumen Prize Student Award

Ad infinitum

By David Glicksman and Moses Journey (USA)

Ad Infinitum is a kinetic sculpture that explores the relationship between discrete points.

Using a row of steel ball bearings, with no visible support system, the work attempts to express pure, abstracted animation using as few elements as possible.

It won: 2017 Placemaking Special Commendation Award

FRANK – ARTificial intelligence​​

By Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrøm (Denmark)

FRANK is a super intelligent post-human being – a contemporary oracle that gives personal guidance regarding existential dilemmas.

Using artificial intelligence the audience can have a direct dialogue with FRANK who answers with a humanised voice.

It won: 2017 BCS Artificial Intelligence Award

Read more:

Spectacular virtual city painting crashes forth at Lumen Prize