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Our world dematerializes into digital data. Distributed ledger technologies, such as the blockchain, enable consensus-dependent applications in digital environments, Bitcoin being the earliest example. These digital apps however have very physical effects – Bitcoin alone consumes ~50TWh of elecricity annually. ON BRINK relates our digital to our physical environment by visualizing its human-related data points of time, location and participation.

ON BRINK is a physical data visualisation of the Bitcoin blockchain: Adapting the mining metaphor, it encodes data on blocks appended to the chain in real-time.

It produces piles of soil that relate in size to the number of transactions within a block, and displays six of them at a time on a continuous conveyor system, reflecting the human attention span given to a transaction on the blockchain: A transaction counts as confirmed only after five blocks have been appended to its containing block. As the passed blocks accumulate to a growing pile at the end of the conveyor system, the initial pile of soil keeps decreasing: our digital tools strongly depend on natural resources.