Carin Ism

I work on governance innovation, on updating the tools available to distribute power and make/enforce decisions. I am the Director of Research at Bitnation, where I direct the Bitnation Future Governance Expedition, I am faculty in the future of governance at the Nordic branch of Singularity U. Before that I was Executive Director of the Global Challenges Foundation, I give talks on power and governance-related issues and offer advisory services to governments and IGOs. I am the chairman of Effective Altruism Sweden and run a live-in hackerspace in Stockholm and one in Amsterdam, both heavily informed by effective altruism. My current work emphasises applications of emerging tools for governance, ranging from algorithmic regulation to the power of escrow/multisignatories, reputation systems and what needs to be in place to get distributed autonomous organisations to actually work. If you do anything in the space of reimagining governance and power, do reach out. I am always interested in learning about new projects and perspectives.

Beyond this, my brain tends to ideate far outside of these specific domains. Apparently, it is yet to receive the memo stating that people should act like siloed entities and simplistic brands. Sometimes I indulge in these impulses and create art, lamps and literature. I publish some of the results here.


I execute the same action in my art as in every other aspect of my work: It is all about deconstructing reality as it is presented, taking inventory of which of pieces align with one’s convictions, and go about reconstructing the desired pieces into a world reflecting one’s ideas. In my art this process is literal: I take pictures of things that represent oppression to me, break them down, and then go on to assembling the smithereens to patterns that align with my aesthetic ideals.

It is to me a testament to the human capacity to take what we don’t like, deconstruct/dismantle it and make the horror disappear. The final step of the process is transferring the images to materials that make it possible to dominate large surfaces - thus turning the space into an intellectually challenging environment. I have grown increasingly interested in the lobbies of skyscrapers as the final destination in the process. Each piece is named after a cognitive bias or fallacy, as a homage to the tools we can use to make the de- and reconstruction of what was arbitrarily assigned to us more stringent and effective.

The most rewarding part of creating is to see how much imagination is triggered in viewers who watch the images: I love hearing about all the wonderfully imaginative things people project and manage to see when looking at the images of complex structures, all results of the re-construction of quite horrible things.

Depicted above is one repetition (50×50 cm) of each images core pattern. Depending on the type (wall, carpet, etc.) and size of the surface they are multiplied from a few, to thousands of times.