The history of RIAT can be traced back to the Austrian artist collective 5uper.net that was established in 2003 by Matthias Tarasiewicz, Ile Cvetkoski, Karina Lackner and Michal Wlodkowski. The collective focused on artistic research at the intersection of media, arts, technology and society and was responsible for developing the Coded Cultures platform. Coded Cultures’ goal was to bring hacker culture and technology-based arts closer together through a series of international festivals and events that ran from 2004 until 2016.
In 2010 after the dissolution of 5uper.net, Tarasiewicz formed the Artistic Bokeh group with the aim to qualitatively explore, map and extend the electrosphere within the parameters of artistic research and development. During this time the group developed the first bitcoin-based artwork, the BitcoinCloud. The work was first shown in 2011 at the exhibition ‘Art and Capital’ at the Vienna Künstlerhaus. BitcoinCloud was perhaps the most inefficient bitcoin mining rig, as it only mined when visitors were viewing the artwork while it was exhibited, all for the purpose of thematizing the “attention economy”.
In 2012, Tarasiewicz established the Artistic Technology Lab at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, where his team continued research on art and value, and experimental open technologies. The research inevitably led to further investigation of bitcoin and the emerging altcoin ecosystem. The outcomes of some of this research were published in the paper “Cryptocurrencies as distributed community experiments” (Newman & Tarasiewicz, 2014). During this time it became clear that to participate in a future cryptoeconomic society it would be necessary to ‘fork the institution’, so in 2015 the Artistic Technology Lab left the university and merged with the Artistic Bokeh group to form the independent Research Institute for Arts and Technology (RIAT). RIAT welcomed and embraced the ephemeral nature of a meatspace consisting of collectively held and performed visions of desirable futures.
In 2017 RIAT was honored by the STARTS Prize jury for providing “an umbrella for unconventional and even revolutionary thinking” and tackling the “most difficult and disturbing problems of our contemporary society”.
RIAT continued its investigations into the intersections of art, design and technology – centered on blockchain technologies, open (source) hardware, experimental publishing, and epistemic cultures – however it became evident that the core of the research was on the speculative design of a decentralised future. RIAT thus became an Institute for Future Cryptoeconomics.