Andy Bauch’s latest art installation, New Money, has a hidden interactive element. Each piece is made out of Lego, and contains a cryptocurrency wallet embedded in the design. And if you can crack the code in the cryptocurrency art, that money is yours. And we’re not just talking small amounts — he’s got $10,000 worth of different cryptocurrencies in there. (And don’t ask us to explain how — figuring out how the wallets are encrypted is part of the puzzle!)
Let’s start with a quick refresher on cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum or the LGBT Token are currencies that aren’t backed by a government. They’re based on the idea of “proof of work,” typically represented via “mining.” For example, Bitcoin mining involves using serious computer processing power to find large numbers that can be used as cryptographic keys; if you find a good number, you get a Bitcoin.
In addition to the $10,000 worth of cryptocurrency, the art project used 100,000 Lego bricks. According to Wired, the average Lego piece costs about 10.4 cents each. So, in addition to the $10,000 of crypto, that’s another $10,000 worth of Lego. (And that’s not counting the cost of the time it took to create the artworks.)
Bauch says the central questions New Money asks are “What is the value of art? And for that matter, what is the value of money?” Each piece is titled with its initial price and currency, though the current market value of each cryptocurrency will be displayed as well since these sometimes fluctuate from one moment to the next.
If you want to see New Money, you’d better hurry. It’s only on view for the weekend. The opening reception is tonight at 7 p.m., and New Money will only be on view until March 25 at 6 p.m. It’s at the Castelli Art Space, located at 5428 W. Washington Blvd. in Los Angeles.