Alex Estorick and Ana María Caballero release digital collectible project, artifacts, which is an attempt to leverage generative AI to produce an alternative token economy based on real and imagined historical artifacts. 

Crypto Mermaids


Crypto Mermaids


Oct 11, 2023


This project challenges problematic histories while delving into human-machine cultures. It involves creating digital artifacts through multiple iterations of image and text prompts based on real art history and archaeology. The initial release is available at, along with an essay by Charlotte Kent. Inspired by early token economies like Byzantium, this project prompts reflection on the commodification of value and the embedding of history and ideology in the process. By blending real and imagined artifacts in AI training, it offers an intriguing approach for museums looking to engage audiences in fresh ways.

About the drop

Artifacts mean many things.  They are the products of humanity and of machine learning. They are also errors of perception and representation. At the end, they are traces of what has been and what might be — evidence of our majesty and fallibility.  These artifacts are an attempt to imagine a new token economy where both image and coinage can challenge tired histories. By harnessing the emergent potential of generative AI, they unearth the unexpected while hinting at human-machine cultures not yet discovered.  Through a process of devoted iteration, we have inserted alternative histories into the complex of ancient and medieval money, thereby posing the question: what might images of pregnancy, of family, and of domesticity mean when minted onto currency?  These tokens tell simple stories of private lives but the identities of their subjects remain unknown. artifacts exist in a space of contested histories, displacing value from established, patriarchal power and situating it in our homes. In doing so, they ask the collector to join in the creation of new meanings.

Opening Date: September 26, 2023

Editions: 100

by Ana Maria Caballero & Alex Estorick

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