Lecture Penn Event

Bitcoin and Energy in Iceland


Zane Cooper
Doctoral Student, Annenberg School of Communications


Annenberg Forum at the Annenberg School
3620 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

As cryptocurrency and blockchain technology rapidly enter mainstream discourse, the on-the-ground practices of the industry remain opaque and hard to grasp. Cryptocurrency mining occurs in specific places for specific reasons, and over the past few years, Iceland has seen rapid growth in the construction of blockchain data centers—largely due to its abundance of cheap, renewable energy. Join Annenberg doctoral candidate and filmmaker Zane Cooper as he presents his immersive virtual-reality documentary on Iceland’s blockchain industry. Explore the film with your own VR headset, meet the filmmaker, and see a working cryptocurrency mining machine up close.


About the Filmmaker

Zane Cooper is currently a doctoral candidate at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, where he researches the cultural and ecological politics of digital media infrastructures, and how they intersect with regimes of energy production and raw resource extraction. He is primarily focused on understanding the material and logistical spaces of blockchain and high-performance computing infrastructure, and how these spaces are influenced by resource politics—specifically rare earth mineral mining.

Cooper is also a filmmaker, currently exploring VR and 360-degree video as a method for analyzing and communicating complex infrastructural entanglements. His first VR short film, Alchemical Infrastructures: Making Blockchain in Iceland, is a multi-sited ethnographic study of the blockchain industry in Iceland, and the ecology of nuanced relationships that work to maintain it. It is currently part of a multimedia exhibit at the Annenberg School for Communication, where it will be on display through May of 2020.

Cooper has a B.F.A. in film studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder, an M.A. in history from California State University San Marcos, and an M.A. in communication from the University of Pennsylvania.

This event is part of Energy Week at Penn. View the full calendar of events.