Bitcoin Marriages

Ever wanted to join your partner in bitcoin matrimony? Or wanted to join another partnership for a short time only? As part of the Design Informatics pavilion „Living with Data“, visitors could record short-term bitcoin unions on the blockchain. Blessed with a small amount of bitcoin, each visitor could merge and share their wallet with co-visitors or strangers for the short duration of their nuptials only. By sealing a romantic agreement (and unromantic divorce) in the blockchain, each temporary wedding became immutably recorded in an ever growing ledger of encrypted marriages.

This speculative web app prototype was developed as extension of a collaboration with James Stewart, Max Dovey and Corina Angheloiu during the Blockchain City workshop at the Citylab conference in Amsterdam. The purpose of this installation was to bring concepts and critique on traditional forms of legal contracts and new opportunities in smart contracting technology or software to a broader, public audience. We aimed to highlight how we negotiate roles and values in possible new forms of short-term partnerships and how we could update traditionally fixed legal contracts into mobile, contemporary, digital agreements for a range of applications and communities. Thus raising general questions for audience members as well as ourselves when developing new technologies in the future, e. g. how can we negotiate new forms of contracts and transactions? What new forms of smart contracts will we be able to design in the future? Who will benefit from such contracts and how will these affect the relationships and partnerships we build?

Each short-term marriage is stored on the blockchain and a receipt or marriage certificate was printed. One print for the newly-weds to take with them as proof of their short-term contract and another print as a continuously printed ledger of marriage certificates collected in a clear container as a transparent record of all marriages that took place over the course of the exhibition. The project was also installed at Furtherfield (London) as part of their New World Order exhibition.

The web app can be found at https://geocoin.eca.ed.ac.uk/marriage/

This project is part of the ESRC-funded project After Money.